My husband and I trooped to three antique stores in one weekend looking for one thing: the perfect prayer bench to put in our bedroom closet. I confess, when it seemed as if we would never find the perfect narrow bench to fit in our small closet, I mentally began to plan what else I could do with the limited space. After all, we have only two closets in our apartment, so space is precious.
Then we found it.
The darling green cabinet that looks nothing like a bench drew both my husband and me from the corner of the last antique store we visited that Sunday afternoon. The pièce de résistance? The cabinet opens to reveal a wire rack which perfectly suits my prayer notebook.
When I first started using a prayer notebook last year, I struggled with how to organize it. I knew I wanted to include space for prayer requests as well as praise reports or answered prayers, but I wasn’t sure how to do this efficiently.
After I stumbled upon this system for organizing my prayer notebook via Pinterest, I haven’t looked back since.
My prayer notebook is a small, spiral-bound notebook that a friend gave to me. The lined pages within contain the day’s date at the top, a space for praise/thanksgiving, and below, in the largest section of the page, a space for me to list current and ongoing prayer requests. A column to the right allows me to go back later and record when certain prayers are answered. But how exactly do I pray?
Praise and Thanksgiving
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6 (NIV, emphasis mine)
It is all too easy to forget this very important part of prayer, yes? When I’m praying for myself or other people, I can get so caught up in laying burdens before the Lord and what I think He should do about them, that I forget to thank Him.
- Thank Him for not always answering my prayers how I think He should, but so often going beyond what I could imagine (Eph. 3:20).
- Thank Him for not sticking to my timeline, but to His own.
- Thank Him for already moving to answer the very prayers still on my lips (Isaiah 65:24).
God knows what I’m going to ask before I ask it. Yet He listens, anyway, because His love is that great. So I thank Him for attending to the prayer of one such as I. Then I thank Him for the person I’m praying for—and I thank Him for answering, whether or not it’s how or when or where I want the answer.
Time to Listen
Sometimes it’s all too easy for me to remember to ask for God’s will to be done and His kingdom to come. But I forget that these willing hands of mine might be the instrument He wishes to use to accomplish that today. So I listen. Is Jesus whispering anything to my heart? How can I serve the people I am praying for today?
- Can I text my friend a specific Scripture?
- Can I bake something for my family member when I know they’re worried about job stresses?
- Can I offer to babysit for that single mom who just needs to go grocery shop by herself?
God could use anything and everything to accomplish His purposes. Maybe I can be a blessing in a tangible way, but I know the most important thing I could ever do is pray.
Did you know you can pray Scripture? This is a simple way to “ensure” your prayers are purposeful. And it’s quite easy. Your prayer is already written for you!
Here are some passages that make great prayers for other people (there are many, many more you can use as prayers for yourself!):
- We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)
- –Jesus, I pray that ____ would have a Truth-filled mind today. Banish the lies. Demolish the arguments and every pretension…teach _____ how to take captive every thought and lie and make it obedient to You.
- And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14-19 (NIV)
- Lord, I pray for ____ today. Establish ____ in love. Show her, together with the saints in her life, how to grasp how wide and long and high and deep Your love is, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge. I pray that ____ may be filled to the measure of all Your fullness.
- And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ–to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1: 9-11 (NIV)
- God, my prayer is that ____’s love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that ____ may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ–to Your glory and praise.
I tend to favor the letters of Paul because he so often talked about how he prayed for the people to whom he wrote, but the Bible is full of prayers you can pray for the people in your life.
Resources on Prayer
“For many years I was bothered by the thought that I was a failure at prayer. Then one day I realized I would always be a failure at prayer; and I’ve gotten along much better ever since!”
-Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God
“In almost every TV or radio interview I take part in concerning prayer, I’m usually asked to share one step a woman can take right away to begin making prayer a reality in her life. And my answer is always the same–she must desire it.”
-Elizabeth George, A Young Woman’s Call to Prayer
“Effectual, fervent prayer is how God changes this world and bestows upon it the beauty, grace, and power that He purchased at the cross.”
-Eric and Leslie Ludy, Wrestling Prayer
“I can tell you this: when you start spending time alone with God every day, you will never be the same. Friend, that’s a money-back guarantee.”
-Diane Moody, Confessions of a Prayer Slacker
Whether you have your own war room, prayer closet, or prayer notebook, or simply use the Notes app on your smartphone as a friend of mine does, find the system that works for you as you pray for other people!
(Originally Published in 2013)