So you have the basics in place for your prayer journal, but you want to go a little deeper than just “Bless so and so…” Here are a few ways to add power to your prayer.
If you read the last article, “Getting Intentional: Keeping a Prayer Journal”, you saw the long list of things I pray for. In order to cover more ground in my prayer time, I put each prayer need under a heading. This helps me to be more strategic and specific when I pray.
These are my headings: my husband and I, my children, family, friends, the church, and the world. I then fit all my requests in for each day under those headers, trying to have six under each header. Here’s an example of the needs I have under a header:
For my husband and I:
1. to grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord
2. for our character and discipline
3. for our relationship with each other and with our kids
4. for our work
5. for our friendships/ministries
6. time and money stewardship
Another example is under the heading ‘The Church’, I split the pastors and their families into three groups, then I have the church staff, missionaries, and ministry needs at the church. So I have six items under that heading.
Once you’ve split this into six different parts, labeling them 1-6, you now have your entire world of prayer needs broken up into six days of prayer, Monday through Saturday! All your number ones will be on your Monday list, all your numbers twos on your Tuesday list and so on. So on the list above, I would pray for Craig and my growth and one group of pastors on Monday. Go ahead and note the day of the week you’ll pray for each need.
Going Deeper with Scripture
Now that you have specific needs listed, seek out verses to pray for each of those categories. This is by far the most time-consuming part of the process – however, this is also the most faith-building! When we pray Scripture over these situations, we are praying the will of God! How fantastic is that? When I pray for my children to love God and His Word, I can pray Colossians 2:6-7 personalizing it with their names, like this: “I pray that Jake and Emma would continue to live in Christ, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as they have been taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” When I pray for Craig and I in and our spiritual growth, I pray Colossians 1:9-10, “Fill Craig and me with the knowledge of your will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding, that we might live a life worthy of you, Lord, and please you in every way.” For one of our friends, I pray 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12, “Please fulfill every good purpose in their family and every act prompted by their faith so that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ might be glorified in their lives.” One of the prayers I am praying for our Nation is, Ephesians 2:14, “For You and You only are our peace who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.” For an unsaved family member, I am praying Acts 26:18, “Please open their eyes, so they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. Then they will receive forgiveness for their sins and be given a place among Your people, Lord, who are set apart by faith in You.” These are just a few examples.
One resource I have used over and over through the years is Jodie Berndt’s,“Praying the Scriptures for Your Children.” In this book, Jodie provides verses for many different areas, from character growth to friends to kids in crisis. I have used it for years – and not just for my kids. The book shows you how to personalize verses to pray God’s truth and promises over the people in your life. Not only is it life-giving to say these things out loud over situations you are praying for, but it is a great way to memorize Scripture. So often when I am praying, the Holy Spirit brings these words of life to mind.
“There’s strategy to this combination of the Word and prayer. From Scripture, we receive written proof of what God has done for us, what He’s created us and called us and empowered us into becoming. Then in prayer, we cooperate with Him to stamp these truths repeatedly into our hearts. And then, more than that, we access them and engage them and draw down their power into our everyday experience.” – Priscilla Shirer
As I said before, the point of this is to be intentional and strategic about your prayer life. If this feels too cumbersome initially, simply writing out the people and circumstances you want to pray for is an excellent start toward more strategic prayer. Later on, or as you go, you can add Scripture.
When I am writing out my prayer journal, I write the heading, then the specific prayer focus, a Bible verse (or two or three) and then some bullet points of specific needs.
Going Deeper with Thanksgiving
Once I have everything written out for my prayer needs for each day, leaving a few pages for other things that might pop up, I write out Thanksgiving/Blessings. Every day before I pray, I write down at least one answer to prayer or something I am thankful for. My dad has been doing this for years and he said, “I have never been stumped or had a tough time finding something – not once.” I have only added this to my prayer journal in the last year or so and that has been my experience as well. There is always, always something to thank God for!
Each morning, my prayer time goes like this. I flip to the thanks/blessings part of my journal and thoughtfully write out something I am grateful for or an answer to prayer or both. Sometimes this is a single sentence, sometimes it is a paragraph. Sometimes it includes a request as well. There is no method. As my dad said when he spoke on the healing of the ten lepers at our Thanksgiving Eve service last year: “There’s a world of difference between being thankful and giving thanks.” Take a moment to offer thanks before diving into your time of prayer and intercession.
Then I flip to the appropriate day and reflect on my focus verse. I read it, usually out-loud, and take a moment or two to meditate on it. After that, I turn to my first page. I pray the Scripture(s) for that and then I pray for the individual needs that I’ve identified. If there are new needs for that person/circumstance, I record it. If there’s an answer to prayer, I check it off and date it. I proceed through all the pages for that day and then I close it up, praying in the name of Jesus, confident that I have covered the circumstances of my life in Scriptural prayer.
I hope this has been helpful to you in becoming more intentional about your prayer life. There is no one formula for prayer, and I think a humble heart is the most important thing we can bring to our prayer lives. I encourage you to check these excellent resources as you seek to grow in your prayer life.
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” 1 John 5:14
Read Part 1 of Keeping a Prayer Journal- here.