Prayer is something I always struggle with, and I suppose I always will. It sometimes flows freely in praise and talking and pouring out my soul to my Father. But, to pray faithfully and specifically to intercede for others takes so much discipline. My flesh fights against it. My mind wanders. My to-do list beckons. My heart is unmoved. Far. Too. Often.
And, while the problem is sin overall, there is the real issue of just being overwhelmed by what to pray for. It's a long list - thinking of the prayer needs at church, home group, women's group, in your friends' lives, in your families and when you think of missionaries, nonbelievers, neighbors... not to mention your own kids, spouse and the biggest sinner you know - yourself!
Anyway, I recently went to visit a dear friend of mine. I was sitting on the couch one day, and saw her prayer calendar sticking out of her Bible. Without trying to be too nosy, I did glance at it, remembering awhile back when I made one. I admired the way hers seemed simpler than my former one. And usually when you shoot for some kind of daily routine (be it cleaning or something more like this) that is very complex, it eventually fizzles out.
So, I asked her for her categories. And, I'm slowly working on a new one today.
It's basically a table (Sunday-Saturday at the top, categories on the side, requests in the proper cells). She folds it up in her Bible and pulls it out each morning.
I have tweaked hers some, and may keep tweaking, but this is what I'm considering at this point, and there is a point forthcoming for me sharing this with you...
-Elders/Families and Deacons
-3ABC (our church)/Ministries
So, for example on Monday for family, I might be praying for my dad and mom, my friend Mindy and our friends the Riedls, the President, Children's Ministries at Third Avenue, etc.
Here's where I'm stuck. I also have lists of prayer requests from our church prayer meetings, home group and our women's book study group. I have prayer requests that I aim to lift up continuously like some friends who are adopting and we are longing for God to bring their boys home. Dustin's co-teacher's son has leukemia. The 8 or so friends I know who are having a baby soon.
Prayer should not be a burden, and I don't want to over-organize it. I know that many things I should just be praying about spontaneously, as people or situations come to mind.
But, my question remains... if you are a believer, how do you discipline your prayer life to consistently lift up so many various needs? Do you have a similar calendar? Do you have any suggestions? Do you have one main prayer time a day? Do you carve out one big time a week to pray in a more focused way? I don't know. I would like to learn what others do. I hate to say it in this way, but what works for you? What have you found helpful?
I'd love to hear from you on this one.