Church prayer lists...
Missionary prayer letters...
Email and Facebook prayer requests...
Each represents a broad spectrum of human need. Add that to what I should be praying for daily - my family, unbelieving friends, our nation and my church - and I've got a whole heap of stuff to pray for. No wonder we hear stories of the great men of faith spending hours in prayer.
How do they do it? I don't seem to have the hours in my day to pray for all I need to lift to the Father. If I don't pray for each need, I feel guilty.
So here is how I've learned to manage my intercessory prayer life:
Pray discriminately. Global communication has broadened our awareness of needs and problems. We hear far more about world situations and people's private lives in one day than George Washington heard in a lifetime. Determine whether the prayer need is within your sphere of influence or within your sphere of concern. If neither, pray once for the need, let it go, and don’t feel guilty.
Pray immediately. Pray when the need is expressed, then let it go, giving it up to the Lord.
Pray with the petitioner. Praying with a person sends a strong message to them, that you are serious about prayer. Recently,a church member called, expressing a prayer need for her granddaughter who was about to deliver a baby that afternoon, a baby who would likely not survive. I prayed with her on the phone. When I finished, she was in tears and so grateful. Praying with her became more powerful and effective than simply promising to pray.
Pray as things come to mind. If certain issues come to the forefront of your thinking, there is probably a good reason. The Holy Spirit may be prompting you to pray, so follow his leading (Romans 8:27).
Pray your passion. Let your prayer life reflect your spiritual gifts. Whatever God lays on your heart, pray about it. If you have the gift of mercy, you will be more drawn to pray for those with physical needs. If evangelism, unbelievers will be most on your heart. Go with what is on your heart.
Make a list. This will help structure your prayer time so you don’t forget what is important and stay focused as you pray.
Say thank you. Philippians 4:6,7 suggests that every prayer request should be blanketed in thanksgiving. When we pray with a thankful attitude, we are more assured of God’s ability to answer our prayers. Thank God for what he has already done, for the way He is working in unseen ways, for His ability to understand and intervene, and for the answer He will provide.
Don’t let the volume of prayer requests choke your prayer life. Start small and just do it. Remember, prayer is simply conversations with your Lord.
Karen Wingate has written a number of articles for national publications and has spoken for several ladies' groups and retreats on the topic of prayer. For more information, contact Karen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And check out our latest book review: Kisses for Kate, reviewed by Erin Dorr.