I am not a finish-one-task-before-starting-another kinda girl. I am an easily distracted kinda girl.
And this meant that prayer, for a number of years, felt like something I was never able to excel at. Because surely if I was doing it properly, I wouldn’t be distracted?
Sitting in a choir pew in my early teens, I would will the seemingly unending prayers being read out to end, so that we could get to the next hymn (I was only there for the singing). My first experiences of prayer weren’t helpful for someone that got bored easily.
So knowing my own low boredom threshold, I started to develop a creative way to pray for the same situations and people on a regular basis. Over time I have discovered the joy of praying with God rather than at Him – asking what He wants me to pray for.
I started by buying myself a large sweet jar, some postage labels and a nice pen.
I sat down with God and said, “OK, let’s make a list!”. I wrote on each label a different person or family I felt him say to pray for.
They included family members, leaders, mission partners, and those who didn’t yet know Jesus. The first set had about 30 cards – I placed them all in a jar, face down so I couldn’t see the names.
The jar sits on my table, and each day I take out five cards at random and place them in front of me. Nearly every day at least one of the cards makes me laugh because I’ve either bumped into that person the day before, or they were already on my heart.
I love that God uses this very simple and seemingly silly idea to say, “you need to pray for these people today”. And even though I give the jar a good mix before picking out each time, there are often occasions when the same name comes out on consecutive days, and I find out that the person is in much need of prayer that time.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with a list of prayers being read out in an 800-year old church – in fact, now that I’m older, I find a certain beauty in it. But one of the lies followers of Christ often wrestle with on their walk with God is that our prayers aren’t good enough. Now, I have more grace for myself; that if I forget one day; or if something distracts me, it’s OK.
So even when my jar gets a bit dusty, I simply wipe it off and pick out some new cards.