I love the red-letter editions of the many versions of the Bible I enjoy reading. There is just something about reading through the Gospels and seeing the words, that Jesus spoke, written in red.
Recently, I had an opportunity to read about a woman who used this same concept during her prayer time. In the book, the author shares a story about her friend taking a prayer journal with her when she goes to pray. She said, “I write in blue ink the words I want to say to the Lord in prayer. There’s something helpful about taking the time to write it out longhand. Then I wait in God’s presence for what I sense He is saying in response to what I’ve written. When I get a sense of His response, I write it in red. Back and forth we have a discussion, in blue ink and red ink.”1
A red ink pen is always handy for me, but I had never thought of using it this way. I am one of the people who mark up all the books I read. You can pull any book from my bookshelf including a Bible and know exactly my favorite parts and my thoughts about it because they will be circled, underlined, and comments added in red.
I also have a passion for spiritual journaling. For years, I have tried to document the insights I receive as I study the Word of God, as I pray, and frankly, as I just do life. I have found that if we are faithful with what the Lord gives us, He will give us more! Additionally, I realize my human inability to remember even the very important things as life goes by so quickly.
There have been many times that during my journaling I have chosen to write my prayers out longhand, and there have been times I have written things I feel the Lord is revealing or directing at the time, but I have never thought about changing ink color to write what I felt the Lord was speaking.
With this author’s story, I decided to do just that. I decided to write out my prayer that day. When I had finished, I picked up my red ink pen and I said, “OK Lord, I am listening” Immediately, I knew exactly what to write, the Lord began to impress on my heart the words He was speaking to me that I should document!
Since that time, I can thumb through my journal and quickly see sections written in red! There is just something about the expectation of picking up that pen and then waiting and listening for His voice. This practice has given me a fresh perspective on my communication with God.
In the book I referenced, the author asked her friend how she knew those impressions in her mind that she wrote in red were from God. “Without hesitation, she replied, “God’s response always lines up with the Word of God and the nature of God. Over the course of time, I’ve learned to hear His voice, to recognize the ideas He drops in my heart while I wait on Him. The enemy wouldn’t be telling me the type of things I write.”1
We learn as we practice. One of those red-letter passages found in the Word of God tells us, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27 NLT). As we spend dedicated time with the Lord, we can learn to hear His voice clearly.
I don’t choose to make writing out my prayers a ritualistic thing that I do every day, there will be times I choose to verbalize my prayer. I have however, quickly learned that it is a powerful practice to enter into my prayer time with the attitude that I am having a conversation with God and His part will be written down in red! It is a reminder that my discussions with Him are not supposed to be a one-way dialog!
There was something about picking up that red pen and saying, “I’m listening” that opened the door for the communication because I actively took on a new posture. I don’t think I will look at a red ink pen the same now, and I hope you won’t either!
- Barrett, Donna L. Leveling The Praying Field: Helping Every Person Talk To God And Hear from God. Gospel Publishing House. 2019. 82-83