In our Wednesday night prayer meetings, I have been giving some practical ways you can grow in depth and width of personal and family prayer. One thing I find helpful is to keep a prayer journal that has a running list of prayer requests. Using a journal allows me to pray with longevity, quickly, focused and broadly. Here is how it works.
The first thing to do would be to write out what your sections of prayer will be. I have the following sections that I can easily turn to:
Other Churches, Wider Church and Missionaries
Society and Culture
Each section has two subsections. Section one is prayers of thanks and gratitude. When there is something that I see or know that I am thankful for, or an answered prayer request, I write it down and date in the Thanksgiving page(s).
Section two is requests and intercession. Here I keep a running list of things that I am praying for the people or section. I write down the request in a short manner and give it a date. When the request is answered or I am finished praying for it, I put a line through it. If there is room, I may write a note as to why I am finished praying for it. If you have read Paul Miller’s “A Praying Life” the idea is taken from his note card prayers.
In regards to the sections that aren’t for specific people, such as my extended family, I write down their names on one page, so when I pray through the book and there may not be anything specific at this time, or if I am praying generally for all of my extended family, I can read their names. If there is a specific request or thanks, they all go in the same column.
When praying for other churches, wider church and missionaries, I also include wider church issues that I think need long term prayer. One thing I am pressed to pray for is to see other evangelical churches value the Lord’s Supper as it should be and has been in the past. To keep me from only complaining about this, I keep this request in front of me. If I see a place where the Supper may be recovering value, I write that down as a thanks to God. Same goes for society and culture.
This is not my only way I pray, but I find this extremely helpful. I would like to go through the book completely at least once a week, but often when I’m using the book, I may stay on one section longer than I anticipated. This book allows me to pick up right where I left off and keep praying. As well, it allows me time to reflect on God’s goodness to me as I read over things to give thanks to God for. I think this gets at the idea of praying without ceasing.