I’m excited to welcome Melissa Spoelstra, author of several books, including her latest, Total Family Makeover, to the blog today to discuss the topic of consistent prayer. Take it away, Melissa.
Have you ever felt the sting of wanting to tell someone you prayed for them, but you know you really didn’t? How about when you open your notes at Bible study or small group and find where you wrote all the prayer requests from your last meeting, but you haven’t prayed about a single one? It’s tough to stay on top of our own families’ prayer needs, let alone lift up other requests to God! Not only that, but some needs are ongoing (such as our children’s spiritual growth or a specific health need) while other needs are short term (such as the sale of a house or the need for a job). How can we keep track of it all?
Since college I have kept some kind of journal or notebook where I write my thoughts, keep to-do lists, take sermon notes, and organize prayer needs. I use the last few pages in my journal for prayer needs so I don’t have to flip through the book to find them.
The first page in this section is for daily requests. I attempt to pray for my husband, my children, and my church every day. (I don’t always do it every single day, but this is my desire when I’m in my normal routine.) I write two or three key requests I have for each of them—such as time management for my husband, college concerns for my son, good friends for my daughters, and so forth.
The next page is a weekly list. I assign a day for different things. For example, I might pray for the families in my small group on Wednesday or my extended family on Friday. This way I don’t feel that I need to be praying for everyone, everywhere, every day. (That would be a surefire way to never get started in praying for people!)
The last page is for short-term requests. This page usually has a lot of things that have been crossed off as needs are answered or no longer current. For example, I prayed for my friend’s divorce hearing as she asked. When it was over, I drew a line through that request. I also prayed many months for my friend Lee, who was struggling with cancer. When Jesus took him home, I didn’t need to pray for his healing anymore because Lee is fully whole in heaven with his precious Savior. Sometimes things stay on this list for days, weeks, or even a year.
When the rest of my journal is full with written prayers, to-do lists, sermon notes, or book ideas, I decide it’s time to get a new journal. I then rewrite my three prayer pages at the back of my new journal. By then it’s time to update things and reorganize anyway.
This is just one prayer organization system that has worked for me. Many people use different prayer tools with success.
- Some people keep an electronic prayer journal on their computer or tablet, and others like to use prayer journal apps.
- My husband uses the calendar in his phone to set reminders to pray for different people and situations.
- My mentor uses sticky notes. She has them on her bathroom mirror, car dashboard, and different places around her home. She has tried other systems, but she finds she is most consistent with prayer when she has a request on a sticky note.
- Other people write requests on index cards and put them in their Bible. Then when they do their daily Bible reading, they pray for others.
- After seeing the movie War Room, my daughter wrote out prayers for our family and taped them up on her closet walls.
- One of my friends uses her Bible study workbook. She writes requests at the top of the daily homework so she’ll see things to pray about during her study time.
There are many different systems for keeping up with prayer requests and being diligent in prayer, and no one is more right or wrong than the other. The important thing is that we make an effort to pray consistently.
If we want to tell our children that we’ve prayed for them, we need to be intentional about implementing prayer into our schedule. If you are more of a free spirit and less of a planner, you might simply pray for each child as you fall asleep at night. It doesn’t have to require a complicated system. In fact, the less involved and rigid your system is, the better. You’ll be more likely to stick with it if it isn’t overwhelming to you.
- As you think about your personal prayer life—especially in regard to your prayers for your children—what do you think might help you become a more consistent pray-er? Think of one practical idea you can implement into your prayer routine.
Melissa Spoelstra is a popular women’s conference speaker, Bible teacher, and writer who is madly in love with Jesus and passionate about helping women of all ages to seek Christ and know Him more intimately through serious Bible study. She is the author of several Bible studies and Total Family Makeover: 8 Steps to Making Disciples at Home.
Spoelstra describes herself as a small-town girl from East Texas, but now resides Dublin, Ohio, with her church planter/pastor husband of 20 years and their four children.
Use my affiliate link to purchase your copy of Total Family Makeover. To keep up with Melissa Spoelstra, visit melissaspoelstra.com. You can also follow her on Facebook (AuthorMelissaSpolestra) and Twitter (@MelSpoelstra).