Practical Praying in a Prayer Request World
By Niki Turner
On any given day, my FB wall, Twitter feed, and email inbox are deluged with ginormous (and not so ginormous) opportunities to fall on my knees again and again.
If I was a "perfect" Christian, that's exactly what I'd do... I'd be giving myself to prayer for these needs and all the others I'm aware of, all day, every day.
But I'm NOT perfect, and I find myself tempted to flippantly type "praying" or "my prayers are with you" before I ever make any contact with God, before I ever put any actual FAITH into what I'm thinking/believing/speaking, but I can't do that without violating my heart.
My conscience is convicted any time I say I'm "praying" about a situation when I haven't actually stopped, turned away from the screen, and taken time to specifically seek God and His will in regard to that individual's particular need. Done properly, that's a time-consuming endeavor, and I don't always have the kind of time I need to pray the way I would like to pray.
I muddle through, most of the time, with those little half-prayers of "bless them, Lord" and "help them, Lord" and "Lord, have mercy," which I certainly don't discount, but which don't satisfy my soul. I was taught to "pray until you have the note of victory" or at least, a sense of peace, and "bless so-and-so" just doesn't always cut it for me. Praying in the spirit, if you're into that kind of thing, is handy... but it doesn't always get me to that place of peace or victory, either, especially if I'm just rattling along without intention. Interestingly, one of the most powerful prayers I've ever experienced involved lighting a candle at a Catholic church in a tangible gesture of prayer for the family of a friend who passed away. But, again, I don't have a rack of candles at my desk...
So what's the answer? Paul said we should "pray without ceasing" and I can see why! But how do you "pray without ceasing" and do your job, write a book, feed your family, clean your house, and get the grocery shopping done at the same time?
For myself, I'm going to try keeping a notebook by my computer, and when I'm prompted to pray for a person or a situation (every prayer request that comes through is not necessarily mine to pray about... I need to ask the Holy Spirit for guidance), if I don't have time to stop and pray for that specific need I'll write it down in my notebook, and then, before I end my computer session and leave my desk for the day, I'll pray about those items, giving each its due diligence.
On that same line, if I find myself in the place of asking for prayer, be assured that it's something I've considered carefully before I've put it out there. My new rule of thumb? If I haven't stopped to pray about it myself, I'm not going ask anyone else to pray about it! That means my own needs and prayer concerns may well end up on that notebook list, waiting for me to have a few minutes to stop and connect with God... Obviously, in cases of dire emergency, things are different.
How do you manage all those prayer needs that come to you? Do you have a system? Does it seem weird to organize your prayer life?
Niki Turner, ACFW Colorado Coordinator
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