“I’ll be praying for you.” Christians often utter those words with good intentions. They don’t intend to lie; they do want to pray for their friend who just confessed their need accountability or strength for a mission trip or healing from physical ailments. However, those prayer requests often get pushed out of minds in the busyness of everyday life or, if they were even written down, lost on corners of bulletins and offering envelopes. The promise to fulfill the Church’s duty of praying for one another is broken over and over, and most people, if they are aware of this tragic forgetfulness, don’t know how to stop the cycle.
There has always been one woman I know that, no matter what, I know she is praying – my grandmother. She is one of the most godly women I know; and I hope to be like her as she is like Christ. One of her greatest attributes is her faithfulness to prayer. Every Thanksgiving, we sit down as a big family, and she reads the prayer requests she’s prayed for us over the past year. We praise God for how he has answered those prayers, and then we share what needs we have this coming year. Year after year my grandmother pours out her heart in intercession for her family. One year I asked how she remembered all those prayer requests. She picked up a tattered notebook, filled with colorful tabs, post-it notes, and her beautiful cursive, and showed me page after page of people and requests she has been asked to lift up over the years.
I was amazed. My grandmother isn’t the Type A, detail-oriented one in the family (in fact, my grandfather is), but she saw the power in prayer and the effectiveness of intentional intercession. I asked her how did she pray for all those requests. Like the godly grandmother she is, she sat me down and taught me how to have intentional intercession.
That precious yet practical instruction I want to share with you.
As a disclaimer, nowhere in the Bible does it say you have to pray this way. This is simply a tool to fulfill the command Paul gives in 1 Timothy 2:1, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people.” All people? That’s a lot of people and requests to remember. This process helps you organize, remember, and not be overwhelmed by intercession.
What you need:
- Notebook (I like spiral bound so that I can fold it over. Other people like moleskin or other leather-bound journals. Use whatever you like.)
- Adhesive tabs
- Fine-tip permanent marker
- Make a list of everyone and everything you want to consistently pray for. For me, my list consisted of myself, my husband, my family, my friends (both new and old), my church, missions, and miscellaneous requests. Think about how big each section will be (for example, my family section is much bigger than my church section).
- Write your section titles on tabs and place them on the sides of the pages. Make sure you leave enough room between each section.
- Think about the specific people in your life you want to consistently pray for and write their names down. Even if you don’t know the specifics of how you can pray for them, it will be reminder to you to find out what’s going on in their life and how you can support them spiritually. You can fill in the space as you continue to intercede for them and be a part of their spiritual life.
- The next time someone mentions a need they have or you notice someone struggling, write it in your notebook or make a note to write it in later. As you pray for the request, let them know you are praying and ask for updates. It will encourage them to know that someone listened to them and remembered their needs. Also, don’t forget to thank God when you see him answering your prayers. Some of my favorite pages in my prayer notebook are the ones that are completely cross about because God has been faithful.
- This is the most important step: PRAY! A neat prayer journal won’t do anything for your prayer life unless you use it. I have found that it’s a great reminder for me to pray daily. I try to pray for one tab a day, plus pray for my personal prayer requests and my husband daily. This doesn’t mean you can’t pray for someone if it’s not their “day,” but it is a great way to remember the people who often slip through our minds. Above all else, let your prayers be guided by the Holy Spirit, for he is able to intercede for us even when we don’t know how or what to pray.
I hope that this post has encouraged you to be more intentional in fulfilling one of the most rewarding commands Christ gave us. Ultimately, praying is not about getting through a list, but relying on our sovereign, good, and wise God. My prayer for you is that this spiritual discipline tool will not only help you to care for others through prayer but will draw you closer to God.