I have shared with you my desire for truth. I value the rare gem of integrity. So, when I tell someone I will pray for them... I want to mean it. I know, readers, you do too. And we can all do better. I offer you these following steps to help us send more effective prayers up to Heaven's gates.
1) Our church sends out prayer lists via email. For weeks, I save these emails in my inbox as prompters. I open them often, reminding myself what the prayer need was for a member of my church family. They also call me to action. Who needs a card, a meal, a phone call, a visit? Our prayer coordinator does a great job too of keeping us updated on how the prayer requests change (ie. when a person gets home from the hospital).
2) You've probably heard the networking tip to really focus on a person when they introduce themselves to you. Further, if you have trouble remembering names, try to think of an acronym or a characteristic to remember that person with their name (ie. smiling Sarah or looks like my cat and has same name - Tom). I practice a similar method with prayer. I lock in on the prayer requests and work to remember the person's name with their prayer. Sometimes I even repeat the name and need out loud to myself (ie. Karen - Ill mother). Really, whatever it takes to move from general to personal. It means so much to someone, even a casual acquaintance, if you tell them you've been praying and ask about what they have going on in their life.
3) Sometimes my Bible falls open in church and dozens of papers come flying out. Not because I am a pack rat but because I also use my Bible as a memory tool. Our Mom's group fills out prayer request cards each meeting so we can know specific ways to pray for each other. I have three in my Bible. A few years back, a guest speaker at church handed out prayer cards for people in Iran who are in jail for their beliefs. I have two of those in my Bible. When I am doing Bible study or looking up Scripture passages during a sermon, the reminders come flying out at me, literally.
4) We did a study on Spiritual gifts in Bible study a few years back. Prayer didn't make the list. It isn't a unique, special gifting from the Holy Spirit like teaching or administration or shepherding. Every Christian possesses the powerful tool of prayer. We just need to fine tune our ability to use it effectively. I keep prayer journals. I have prayer notes in my purse. I put physical reminders in my car (ie. a rock, a feather). Whatever works for you. Remind yourself to pray.
5) I am on social networks a wee bit. Now that I'm blogging, I frequent them even more. Again, a prayer tool awaits. As you're casually strolling through the names of friends on your wall, focus on how you can pray for them. I have friends and family who live out of town. Also friends I don't see everyday even though they live close. When I see their name and picture on Facebook, I pray. My friend experiencing healing after her divorce. My friend who has extended hospital stays due to a chronic illness. My friend getting ready to travel. Pray.
6) We all keep daily calendars. Some of you savvy readers keep yours electronically. Much like an actual reading book rather than my Kindle, I still need a physical calendar. I think writing it down myself helps lock appointments into memory and I find I can quickly jot notes to myself better. Some of those calendar notes are... you guessed it, prayer requests. Does a friend have a doctor's appointment next Monday at 11am? Write it down right there in your calendar. I think it's important to pray at the specific time something is happening. Putting it on my own calendar helps me to do that.
7) This last one seems simple but I think much of it comes from my intentional efforts to pray more effectively for my friends. I ask God to bring them to my mind when they need prayer. If I am awake suddenly at 2am, I pray for God to bring those people to mind who need prayer right then. Definitely when I think of someone out of the blue, maybe a person I haven't heard from in a long time, I lift them up in prayer. Perhaps that is the very reason I thought of them right then.
To me praying has become - please Lord let it be true - a habit.
Prayer remains a mystery to me. I don't know how a God who already knows everything responds to prayer. I do believe it changes us, it benefits the recipients and it can somehow move the mighty powers of Heaven into action. I read of Christians who get up at 4:30 each morning and pray for two hours. I find that so beautiful. I know people who give amazing public prayers. Prayer looks different to every person. For me, I just try to make it effective in my own life on behalf of others. Prayer matters. Amen.
Day 5 in Conversion Diary's 7 Posts, 7 Days Challenge.