Listening to God
An online prayer journal is always on, available everywhere, quick to edit, and easy to search. Here’s how to organise your journal using Evernote.
Starting a prophetic prayer journal is one of the best things you can do to kickstart your growth in the gift of prophecy.
But once your journal gets beyond a certain size (more than just a few entries) you’ll need a system to keep it in check.
Using Evernote as an online prayer journal enables quick entry and even quicker search – wherever you are.
Ideally, your system will:
- Make it easy to add new entries
- Allow you to find and review older entries quickly
One of the best ways to do that is to keep your prophetic prayer journal online in electronic form.
And one of the best ways to do that is to keep your online prayer journal in Evernote.
In this post, I’ll explain why I think Evernote is the very best way to keep an online prayer journal. Then I’ll take you through the exact steps you can take to organise yours.
Technology For My Online Prayer Journal
I’ve always had a thing for technology. I love working and playing with technology of all kinds. My other website, Ergonomic Toolbox is a testament to that.
Of course, I also love God and I love to spend time in his presence. I pray every day in one way or another, and I listen eagerly to anything he has to say.
Another thing I love to do is combine the different loves of my life in new and interesting ways.
So when I first started my prophetic prayer journal, I wanted it to be accessible from anywhere. Since this meant keeping an online prayer journal, I instinctively set it up inside Evernote.
Why Use Evernote For Your Online Prayer Journal?
Evernote is an electronic note taking app, which you can download on pretty much every platform you can think of. You can access it on:
PC and Mac
Directly on the web
I was one of the first people to sign up to the service and I’ve used it for years.
Keeping my online prayer journal in Evernote means that I can:
- add new entries wherever I am
organise my online prayer journal how I want
add tags (like special categories) and other data to my journal entries*
quickly search through my online prayer journal
synchronise my online prayer journal to all my devices
have an online backup of every journal entry
[box type=”info”] *Tags and metadata allow me to add another layer of organisation and context to my online prayer journal.
For example, I can add location information to remind me exactly where I was when God spoke to me. I can even view it on a map! [/box]
Most of these could be done in some way or another in a paper and pen system. But it’s the search facility in Evernote that is its “killer feature”:
Evernote search means that I can find and retrieve individual prayer journal entries quickly and easily (in seconds), no matter whether it was added last week or last year.
Reviewing my online prayer journal by reading back through previous journal entries is a big part of how I keep myself close to God.
But to do that effectively, I need a system to organise the details.
If you want to get organised with your online prayer journal, you’ll need a system too. The rest of this post will show you exactly how to do that right inside Evernote.
How To Organise Your Online Prayer Journal In Evernote
Evernote is a very powerful and flexible program, but sometimes that very flexibility can become daunting for a new user.
Whenever we adopt a new system, we need to make it as simple as possible. Otherwise, it becomes more trouble than it’s worth, and we soon end up abandoning it.
For our online prayer journal to be effective, we want to be able to:
- Enter new prayer journal entries at a moment’s notice
Organise those entries to help us keep them all together in a sensible order
Find any prayer journal entry we want, quickly and easily
All of this is easily achievable in Evernote, but how do you get started?
Organise Your Online Prayer Journal #1: Install Evernote
If you don’t already have it, the first thing to do is to download and install your copy of Evernote (affiliate referral link).
When you start Evernote for the first time, the app will guide you through the steps to set up an account using your email address.
You’ll use this same account to sign in to the app on whichever platforms you use (e.g. PC, iPhone and tablet). Evernote will then synchronise your information on each and every device, so you’ll have a complete copy of your online prayer journal everywhere you go.
And believe me, Evernote synch is blazingly fast. The whole system is painless to use.
Once the installation has completed and you’re all logged in, you’ll see that the application window has 3 “panes”:
- On the left hand side is a navigation pane. Here you’ll see headings for Shortcuts, Notebooks, Tags, and so on.
In the middle, you’ll see a second pane which lists the notes in the currently selected notebook (if you’ve just installed Evernote, there will just be the one note, to begin with).
On the right hand side is the note pane. Here you’ll see the contents of whichever note is currently selected (if you’ve just installed the app, then you’ll see a “welcome to Evernote” note).
You can change how these panes look, but don’t worry about that for now. The important thing to understand is that Evernote uses this 3 pane approach throughout:
Whatever you select in the left hand pane, will determine what notes you see listed in the middle pane. And whatever you select from the list in the middle pane, will determine which specific note is available for editing in the right hand pane.
If this is your first time using Evernote, take some time to familiarise yourself with this system. Add a couple of test notes and click on different options to get a feel for the navigation system, before moving on.
Organise Your Online Prayer Journal #2: Set Up Evernote Notebooks
Like many powerful applications, Evernote has multiple ways to organise things. The temptation for new users is to add lots and lots of what Evernote calls “notebooks”.
Notebooks are similar to folders in Windows and are easy to get a grip on.
This is fine in the beginning, but in my experience, I’ve found it can quickly become unwieldy once you have a large number of notes and notebooks.
With that in mind, we’re going to keep things really simple, with just 2 notebooks.
I’m also going to assume that you’ll end up keeping more than just your online prayer journal inside Evernote. – Once you see the power of the app, you’ll probably add in more stuff, and you won’t want to go back!
When you first sign up and install Evernote, the app will automatically setup a notebook named after your account name. Let’s change its name to something more meaningful and add a second notebook.
Follow these steps to set them up:
- Open Evernote and click on the Notebooks option in the left hand pane
Right-click on the notebook that now appears in the central pane
Select Rename Notebook and give it the name “Inbox”
Set the Inbox as your default notebook. On PC, go to Tools > Options > General, then click Select default notebook and choose Inbox in the list. Then click OK. (On Mac, the same option is found under Evernote > Preferences > General)
Click the File menu item and choose New Notebook
Name your new notebook “Cabinet”*
[box type=”info”] *What you call this notebook depends on what you are going to use Evernote for.
If you know you’re going to use Evernote only for your online prayer journal, then name your notebook “Prayer Journal”, and you’re done.
However, bear in mind that some of what you’ll read below may not apply to your situation.[/box]
Ok, we’ve got our basic setup in place. We now need to get it ready for use with the other notes you’re likely to add in later.
I’ve already touched on the limitations of notebooks. A much better method of organisation is to use tags, so that’s our next area of focus.
Organise Your Online Prayer Journal #3: Set Up Evernote Tags
The problem with notebooks in Evernote, is that a single note can only be placed in one notebook at a time.
I’ve got a load of old notebooks I set up in the past, still hanging around. I keep telling myself that I’ll reorganise them some day, but “some day” never really happens.
If I want to add anything to those notebooks, then for any given note, I have to decide which notebook to put it in. Let’s illustrate why this is a problem.
Say I got a prophetic word from the Lord which was for my local church, but it also applied to my personal spiritual life.
If I had a “Personal” notebook and a “Church” notebook, then I wouldn’t know which one to place my prophetic word in. I could put it into the Church notebook, but I’d risk forgetting about the personal application when I later look back at it.
Contrast that with tags and the great thing about them, is that the same note can have more than one tag.
By keeping a single “Cabinet” notebook, all my notes go in the one place (so I don’t procrastinate). I can then add both “church” and “personal” tags to my prophetic word.
That way, I can add the note in quickly, without having to think about it too much – and I never lose track of the context either.
If you’re feeling a bit lost at this moment, don’t worry! It will become clearer as you use the system.
For the moment, just trust me that I know what I’m doing. 🙂
How To Set Up Your Online Prayer Journal Tags
Tags are easiest to add at the time you write a note. The best way of learning is by doing, so let’s have a go:
- Add a new note.
Write your prayer journal entry (if you can’t think of anything right now, just add your new note as a placeholder – call it “test” or something).
Click on the information icon at the top of the note (it looks like an “i” in a circle).
You’ll see a line for tags: click where you see Add tag, type the words “prayer journal” and press Enter.
You’ll now see that the tag “prayer journal” has been added to the top of the note. You can add other tags in this same line, if you want, instead of clicking the information icon every time.
Go ahead and add a second tag to your note, called “key moment”. I use this tag to quickly categorise special times that mean a lot to me, or that are particularly profound (I’ll come back to this later).
Now you have your first couple of tags setup. Evernote will remember them.
The next time you add tags to a note, Evernote will show you your existing tags as soon as you start to type. You can then select the one you want from the list, rather than having to enter the whole thing.
How To Use Your Online Prayer Journal
Now we’ve got your online prayer journal set up, I’m now going to show you how to use it!
Adding Journal Entries To Your Online Prayer Journal
The reason I got you to create an “Inbox” notebook was to help with our first goal: to get new entries into your prayer journal as quickly as possible.
When you’re typing in a new revelation, it’s easy to get distracted by thoughts of how to categorise and tag it.
This is particularly true when you receive more than one prophetic word at a time. You can end up forgetting what you wanted to write down in the first place!
So we’re going to avoid that issue entirely, by ignoring tags and notebooks for any new entries.
Instead, all you do to add a new online prayer journal entry is this:
- Click the add note button
Write your prayer journal entry
Since we already set up the default notebook to be our Inbox, that’s where our new journal entry will end up.
You may find that the process of writing one prayer journal entry triggers thoughts of another. – Maybe you suddenly remember what God said to you yesterday, or in a dream you had last night.
If so, then add that in as a separate note, and so on, until you’ve written down everything you can:
The important thing is to get the thoughts out of your head and into your online prayer journal.
Good. Now we can review and organise the notes we’ve just added.
Process Your Online Prayer Journal Inbox
So you’ve got a list of notes in your Inbox notebook, but we don’t want to leave them there. If we do, then it’ll just get cluttered up over time, and we’ll lose track of it all.
For most prayer journal entries, you’ll simply add the prayer journal tag and move it into the Cabinet notebook. This way, you’ll know that you’ve processed it and you can find it again later, easily.
However, there may be times where it will be helpful to add some more detail. This is where processing your journal entries in this way comes into its own.
I’ve lost track of how often I’ve come to look at a particular note and realised I had forgotten some of the details. Or the Lord has begun speaking to me again as I read back through it.
A couple of weeks ago, we were praying together in our church team meeting and the Lord gave me a very clear picture of what was happening across the congregation.
Usually, I would share such a word straight away and “get it off my chest”. However, this time, the Lord told me to hold onto it.
The following day, I started to type it up in my online prayer journal.
As I wrote, the Lord gave me more and more detail for the picture itself. But he also gave me a detailed interpretation which I was then able to share with the rest of team.
If I hadn’t been obedient, then I might have shared this picture straight away. But without the interpretation, I may have left it open to misunderstandings of what the Lord was actually trying to tell us.
So feel free to add more to your journal entries at this point, because you never know what further revelations you might get!
Here’s a couple more ways you can enrich your prayer journal entries:
When it comes to dates, Evernote is very helpful already:
Whenever you add or update a note, Evernote automatically “stamps” it with today’s date and time.
Tap the information icon on any note. You’ll see that it has a created date and an updated date filled out for you.
You can use these dates to sort your list of notes, so you can see how your prayer journal – and your walk with God – has evolved with time.
I like to add another layer to this, by adding the date into the title of the note. This gives me a quick visual indication from my list of how frequently I have heard from the Lord in different periods of my life.
Another way of categorising things is to add tags for the month and year. For example, by adding a “2017” tag you can use this later to quickly see a list of all the prophetic words you got in that year.
Your mileage may vary: you need to decide how much information is going to be helpful to you.
If in doubt, keep it simple! The less work you have to do up front, the more likely you are to continue using your online prayer journal.
I also use a “key moment” tag to help me categorise my notes.
Over the past year, I have spent a lot of time in prayer as I was leaving one job and moving into another. As it turned out, I ended up with a complete change of lifestyle.
The Lord prepared me for this in a number of ways, one of which was some very special times in his presence. I won’t forget them in a hurry.
During these times, he gave me many encouragements and revelations, all of which I tagged in my online prayer journal with the words “key moment”.
This means when I come to looking back through my notes, I can search for the notes with this tag. I immediately get a list of these significant times, right in front of my eyes.
Review Your Online Prayer Journal
A prayer journal isn’t going to help you much if you don’t take the time to review it, every now and then. That’s true of offline prayer journals too.
I try to spend some time each week to go through at least the most recent entries in my prayer journal. The best way I’ve found to remember to do that, is to have a reminder on my phone.
As I read through, I sometimes add a comment to one of the notes. I could get a new thought or further revelation. Sometimes, this will be to say when and how a particular prophecy came true.
When I do this, I type in today’s date, so later on, I can quickly distinguish between the original prophecy and my update.
Finding Your Online Prayer Journal Notes
Using Evernote to review our online prayer journal is really easy, because we’ve already set it up with the prayer journal tag.
All you have to do is go to your Cabinet notebook (or the “All notes” view), then type the following into the search bar at the top:
(Note the use of quotes – without them, Evernote would try to find a tag called “prayer”, not “prayer journal”.)
Now you’ll see a list of all your prayer journal notes for you to read through.
If this is your first time reviewing your online prayer journal, the notes might be in a strange order, such as ordered by title.
We can remedy that by clicking the View menu and choosing Sort by and then Date created (or Date updated).
[box type=”info”]Tip: Make sure to also check the option “Most recent to least recent” in the same menu.[/box]
Evernote will remember the sort order from now on, until you change it. If you use the Windows version, you can also ask it to save the order for the current view, so it will always look the same, even if you change it elsewhere in the program.
Tip: To make things even easier, select the Tags option in the left hand pane, locate your “prayer journal” tag in the centre pane, and drag and drop it into the Shortcuts area back in the left pane.
From now on, all you have to do is click on this shortcut: et voilà, your online prayer journal is ready to read!
Bonus: Online Prayer Journal Evernote Template
If you read my previous article on getting started with your prophetic prayer journal, you’ll know that using a template can help you get down all the important details quickly.
You may also have downloaded the prayer journal template from that post.
Today, I’m going to go one better than that and give you exclusive access to a new version of that template, structured specifically for your online prayer journal in Evernote.
All you need to do is download the template and I’ll send you instructions on how to import it into Evernote.
Once your template is installed as a note, simply copy it to your Inbox whenever you want and you’ll have the headings already there for you. All you have to do is fill in the blanks!
You can get your Evernote template here.
How do you keep your prayer journal? Online or offline, and why?
Leave your answer in the comments area below.