Today’s New Year’s topic is prayer. Once again I’m terribly shortcoming in this area of my life. In my younger adult years, I really struggled accepting that I needed to pray. I figured that God knew everything that I ever would think about praying for way before I ever even knew about it myself. On top of that, I had the attitude that God’s will would win out no matter if I prayed for it to happen or not. So what’s the use of putting in the time to pray if it really had no purpose? Oh and here’s the kicker, I actually became convinced that God was doing the opposite of what I prayed for. People would ask me to pray for them. Of course, I would tell them that I would pray and I even made sure I did (at least once), but in my head I would think, ‘You don’t know what you’re asking.’ Do you remember the Old Testament story in Numbers 22-24 about how Balak, the Moabite King, hired Balaam to curse the Israelite people? Every time he attempted to curse them, he ended up blessing them instead. Well, I felt like my prayer life was similar, only in reverse. When I cried out for God’s blessings on someone, something bad would happen. I was not the one you’d want on your church’s prayer team!
Even in my rebellion, there would be times I would feel guilty for largely abandoning prayer. I knew that Christians were supposed to pray. You can’t read the Bible and escape reading about people who prayed – David, Daniel, Paul, and even Jonah (who was a prime example of a rebel) prayed. Then, of course, there is the Lord’s Prayer. If God acted completely without regard to prayer, why would Jesus give His disciples (and us) an example of how to pray? I finally came to the conclusion that, even if the idea of why people should pray is beyond my comprehension, God wants us to pray and I needed to obey Him in this area.
One huge problem I’ve had throughout the years related to praying was remembering who I’d committed to pray for. The situation time and time again would take on this pattern: someone would express an issue that had come up in their life to me, they’d ask me to pray for them and I’d agree to do it. Sometime later they would approach me again and tell me that the situation had resolved and they were so thankful for my part in praying for them. A lump would rise in my throat and I’d stammer out some response and give them a weak smile. As they walked away the guilt would grab me hard. I’d totally forgotten to pray for them at all! All I could do was thank God that He is gracious despite my falling short and be thankful that there were others out there who had probably carried out their promises better than I had.
One way I tried to deal with my forgetfulness in dealing with prayer requests was to pray immediately for that person. I knew it was kind of cutting the corner, but at least I could honestly say I’d prayed for them. However, I knew that was only carrying out the letter of the law and not the spirit of it. I also tried to write out prayer lists. Quite quickly I found a couple of problems in doing this. First, the lists were difficult to follow. I’d have some things crossed off that were no longer relevant and then additional details were written to the side as they came up. The other thing was that when I started to become more serious in praying for people and events, my list quickly grew to a mammoth size. I’d never get through praying for everything and everybody. If you were near the top of the list, you’d get prayed for more often, but if you were near the middle or the end, not so much.
My desperation to find a better way to keep track and pray for requests led me to find a phone app called PrayerMate. It is a system that basically uses digital flash cards to keep track of prayer subjects. You start out by entering in your general prayer categories – I have mine set up as: God’s Attributes, My Immediate Family, My Extended Family, My Husband’s Extended Family, Salvation, My Church, Coworkers, Other Requests, Bible Study Friends, Missionaries, Gospel Efforts, and Government. Then within those categories I have set up specific people or events; for instance, I have my husband, daughter, and son listed on separate “cards” within the ‘Immediate Family’ heading and each family on separate “cards” under the ‘My Church’ category. Then to set it up for praying, I selected how many “cards” I want to pray for each day under each heading. Some people and events I really feel like I need to pray for every single day, but many are rotated in and out, making prayer time more likely to fit into my daily life. I admit that the start up work involves a lot of initial entering of data, but once I got that into place, the system flowed well. I can add and delete cards as needed and edit details as they change. I can even set up a request to be automatically archived after a certain date, like after a gospel series has ended.
If you’d like to explore this system for yourself, just check out this app: PrayerMate – Christian Prayer App by Andy Geers
https://appsto.re/us/9iS6z.i. By the way, I didn’t receive any solicitation for and I am not getting any revenue for recommending this app.
The other big impact on my prayer life is a very recent one. I have made a New Year’s resolution this year that is one I don’t think I’ve ever had before. This year I joined a Christian reading challenge through Jami Balmet’s blog “Young Wife’s Guide”. (To join the challenge, see https://youngwifesguide.com/2017-christian-reading-challenge-christian-women/). I have decided to try to read 13 books this year, which is a lot for me. Although Jami has it all laid out so that you can read the books she has recommended, I have a pile of my own books that are waiting for me to read. So, I’m picking and choosing what I’ll be reading. Because I knew I would be writing about praying for my blog, I decided my first book would be one by John MacArthur entitled, “Alone with God: Rediscovering the Power and Passion of Prayer”. I am reading it as an ebook and I can say that it is the powerful book I have read in a long time. Right from the get-go I felt the Spirit trying to reshape my prayer life. I have been taught since I was young that our prayers shouldn’t just be about our needs. However, I guess I felt somewhat righteous making sure my prayers were mostly about other people’s needs. This book hit my attitude right on my Pharasee nose! It spelled out that our prayers should center around extolling God’s glories. That’s when I realized that there is a lot I don’t know about God. It has led me to start researching the attributes of God so that I can bring them up in my prayers and be more intentional in thanking Him for all that He is. I have found this to be such a blessing that I plan to create a mini course related to the awesome wonders I have discovered about God and you will have the choice to opt-in to this course outside of my regular blog posts. I’ll keep you posted as I get closer to making it a reality.
In the meantime, examine your own prayer life. Where could it use improvement? I would also strongly recommend that you look into reading the MacArthur book on prayer. You may be able to get it free from your library or a free download (like I did). If you’d like to buy it, I’ll include an Amazon link. I am an Amazon associate so you should be aware that this link is attached to my account and I may be reimbursed through Amazon for any purchases made from clicking on this product. However, I do not recommend anything unless I can honestly do so from my heart. You are also welcome to look for other ways to obtain this book that may be free or at a lower rate. Just read it. You will be blessed through it!
Also, I’d sure appreciate it if you could pray for me. I feel a big responsibility to keep things Scripturally correct when I have a Biblical topic for this blog. I also am very easily distracted in my personal life and could quickly let the important things slip away.