A Different Kind of Prayer Journal

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Prayer journals are great faith formation tools, but many students see writing as a chore. And those blank journal pages can overwhelm even your strongest writers. (What? No topic sentence? No supporting details? Help!) Here are some ways you can reach many different types of learners through journaling.


One year I showed my sixth-graders the cross that formed in the twisted wreckage of 9/11. Then we trekked the church grounds searching for hidden crosses. Students recorded their discoveries by drawing or writing on sheets of paper. Others created photo journals using their camera phones. Not surprisingly, they found crosses everywhere: in the crisscross pattern formed by a stack of bulletins, in the weave of the altar fabric, and even in the markings in the parking lot. We sent the journals home and invited students to seek the cross throughout the year. This makes a good Lenten and Holy Week project, too.


The popular Wreck This Journal series by artist Keri Smith inspired this class project in which students take home a clean sheet of paper and ruin it. That’s right—encourage them to fold, crumple, or tear it; cover it with dirty fingerprints; or send it through the wash. Gather all the returned pages together into a tattered class journal. Ask your class if any of the pages can be fixed. The answer will be probably not. Distribute clean sheets of paper as you explain that sin can destroy our relationship with God and others. We can’t fix things on our own, but God can help us start over in the sacrament of confession. Invite the students to draw something beautiful or something they enjoy on the clean sheets of paper and put them together into a class “Forgiven” journal.


Students spend so much time answering questions that sometimes we forget they learn best when they do the asking. So let them ask questions about their faith and the Church in private journals. Give them a chance to submit their questions anonymously, and be sure to answer them during two class meetings (in case the questioner is absent). As always, if you don’t know the answers, find someone who does—your DRE or parish priest, for example.


Jot down some open-ended questions for each week of Lent. Give students a few minutes to write down their thoughts.

Remember, most journals are personal, so make sure students feel free to share honestly. Happy journaling!


Connie Clark is the author of 50 Prayer Services for Middle Schoolers published by Twenty-Third Publications.

This article originally appeared in RTJ’s Creative Catechist February/March 2014.




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