Pray Wha-a-a-t? (part 2)

Notebook and pen isolated

For years a sporadic prayer life left me feeling guilty and inept. While I kept a list of emergency requests, I had no idea what to pray. Should I pray that Jim gets the job, or not? That Candice marries Jason, or Curt? Maybe neither. Bogged down with a myriad of requests, I felt pressure to ask the right thing so I could check it off as answered prayer.

Breakthrough—pray Scripture!

My prayer book now has a page for each family member. More pages list others to pray for. I choose scriptures to put under each name—a few fixed verses for the year, and fresh verses added as I come across them. My prayer book gets updated every January 1, with new pages and new verses added as the months progress.

My routine is to spend time in God’s Word first before I pray. Whatever I’m reading, studying or memorizing at the time, I include verses in my prayers for others. Along with urgent needs of the day, I direct my focus to requests that are aligned with God’s will.

For example:
My daughter Natalie is a stay-home mom with two pre-school children. What do I pray for her?
A few of my favorites for her:
• Love her husband and children Titus 2:4
• Be a wise woman that builds her house Prov 14:2
• Teach her children as they go about their daily routine Dt 6:6-9

My son Austin (single) has his own list:
• Be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the
Master, and prepared to do any good work 2 Tim 2:21
• That God will make him a fruitful branch on the vine Jn 15:5
• That God will keep His hand on his life Ps 139:5

This week in Galatians things jumped off the page to pray for friends and loved ones:
• Live by faith in the Son of God who loved them and gave Himself
for them. 2:20
• Be victorious in the battle of the flesh vs the Spirit 5:17
• Not become weary in doing good. 6:9

Other go-to favorites include the prayers of Paul: Ephesian 1:17-21; 3:14-19; Colossians 1:9-12; 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12.

Looking in the Word for things to pray makes it personal, varied, and no longer robotic. And … no boxes to check off. I’d love to hear some of your tips for meaningful prayers.

12 comments to Pray Wha-a-a-t? (part 2)

  • Melissa Donovan

    I know some people have various subscriptions to magazines. I have seen others take and find pictures and cut them out and put them on the page for the person they are praying for, whether it be a new home, for children, etc. whatever the need and the desire for that family member.

    Then with the recollection of what the pictures bring to mind they are able to vary the prayers for each person.

  • Susan Turner

    LOVE LOVE this. When I review memorized scripture I often turn them into prayers as I go through a passage. Thank you for these solid practical ways to actually commune with THE ETERNAL ONE! I can’t think of a better way than to pray His Words back to Him.

    • This morning I was going through Galatians again and stopped after 1:15 “But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles…” I thought to myself, this is true of me and all believers. I was set apart from birth, God called me by his grace, and (Wow!) he was pleased to reveal his Son in me, so that I might tell others about him. I prayed right then that this truth would penetrate my heart. I then prayed for each of my family members the same thing. And, many of my friends were prayed over with this same request. A Scripture came alive as it became my prayer.

  • Sue Bond

    Janet, thank you for this great idea!!
    I have many scriptures memorized but when I try to “pray” them, I have trouble recalling just the one, pulled out from among the other sentences around it.
    Side note: is this normal? Even if I am trying to encourage someone with a scripture, I pretty much have to whip through the whole chapter in my mind until I find the one I want. I know where to find it, but my memory won’t let me pull just the isolated one. 🙂

    Anyway, I’m totally going to copy your way of writing the scripture prayers out under a person’s name!! Thanks again!

    • Hi Sue, I know exactly what you’re saying and that has happened to me many times. During my prayer time I always have my Bible with me so that helps. The art of pulling out verses from the middle of a passage gets easier over time, I promise. Don’t give up! It’s also easier on passages we did a long time ago. Recent books are still locked in verse order for some reason. Maybe somebody has the answer to this.

  • Elizabeth

    Janet, how do you decide where to read in your Bible each day? Do you follow a reading plan or do you decide on your own? I do Bible study regularly at night, after I have my child in bed, but had begun doing my prayer time seperate in the morning when I wake up but am struggling with where/what to read during this time of prayer…I could use some tips!

    • My system serves me well but may not work for others. In the early morning I spend time going through some of the books or passages that I have memorized. I may take several days or a week going over the same passage word for word, making sure I can recall it from memory. Then I move on to the next one. Right now I’m on a 2 year plan to memorize 2 Corinthians so I’m also studying that at the same time. But I don’t always study the book I’m memorizing. I’m also usually studying another book that I’m not memorizing. Last year I did Romans, this year Genesis. I don’t have a system for what to study or read next. Sorry that this may not be helpful. Now you can see that I’m not as organized as you probably thought I was 🙂

      • Elizabeth

        This is very helpful actually! It is nice getting ideas about how to approach my quiet time and study time- and how to incorporate Scripture memory into this routine. I have just felt like I was floundering a lot this year as I didn’t follow a reading plan but it is nice to see that I could also just pick a couple books of the Bible and read/study my way through them while also working on my Scripture memory. Thanks Janet!

  • Janet, I absolutely love this idea. I’ve definitely struggled with talking about praying more than actually praying. This summer, I started a bible study that involves studying scripture each day using the SOAP method. I LOVE it. It really got me excited to be in the Word everyday. It “forces” me to think about what the verse means, how to apply it and then also “forces” me to pray. Because of this, I bought myself a cute journal and carry it around with me all day. Instead of picking one time during the day to journal, I write in it all day long, but as prayers. Some days are better than others, but it’s always with me. The one thing really missing for me is scripture. I love the idea of picking certain scriptures for friends and family once a year. What a special thing. I love it. Thank you for sharing such a special idea for our loved ones.

  • S = Scripture
    O = Observation
    A = Application
    P = Prayer

    The study I’m doing now has us reading 5-15 verses or so at a time and then we use the soap method on just a few of them. It’s such an awesome way to dig in deeper into the Word. Right now we’re in Luke. I’ve read Luke before, but I’ve never applied some of these verses to my life. Wow! It’s amazing all you can learn by just taking more time to think and pray over them!