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There are a lot of ways people pray and there are a lot of techniques people use to keep track of what needs prayer, or what’s been prayed for.
I heard a man who had been leading small groups for 30 years say that he wrote prayers on note cards, and when a prayer was answered he would highlight it. Each time his group met, they could see the growing list of prayer requests—and the growing list of answered prayers!
Prayer lists can serve both as a reminder to pray and a reminder of God’s faithfulness. (click to tweet)
Some people set calendar reminders in their phones to pray at certain times of day. I once heard someone say he put a rock in his shoe, and whenever the rock made him uncomfortable, that was his reminder to pray.
I’ve also seen ministries that walk and pray over the places they serve. Whether it’s a school campus, the streets, or the doors of your church, physically being there helps us think of specific situations, encounters, and places we can pray for.
Sometimes physical objects help develop spiritual discipline. (click to tweet)
However you remind yourself to pray, here are four reasons you should consider sharing prayer lists with your ministry team:
1. Because one prayer isn’t always enough
Immediately following the Lord’s Prayer in Luke 11, Jesus offers the parable of the neighbor who knocks at midnight—the guy who won’t take no for an answer, and keeps asking until he gets the bread he asked for (Luke 11:5–13). Moments ago, Jesus told his disciples to pray, “Give us each day our daily bread” (Luke 11:3), and here he is saying, “keep asking.”
Sometimes you have to pray for things more than once.
It’s not that God isn’t capable of answering prayers immediately. Sometimes he does. But when you think about how big our eternal God is, it’s pretty safe to assume his timeline doesn’t always look quite like ours.
Whether you’re praying for a ministry or a person, some prayers are ongoing. Maybe you’re praying for more volunteers. Or for a budget to be met. Or for patience. Or for spiritual growth.
Your daily bread is something you have to ask for every day. (click to tweet)
When the Israelites wandered the desert, manna had to be gathered every day. Every day, they looked to the Lord for what they needed to survive that day.
Prayer is an ongoing process. Using a prayer list helps your ministry or small group continue the process of prayer.
2. Because people forget
Prayer is important. It’s so encouraging to know someone else is praying for you or partnering with you to pray for something that matters to you.
But it’s also really easy to say you’ll pray for something, and then completely forget to do it. It’s almost second nature to say “our thoughts and prayers are with so-and-so” when tragedy hits—but that doesn’t mean very much when you don’t actually have prayers to offer them.
Prayer lists help hold you accountable. And if your team is praying for something together, it provides a touch point for you to revisit things you need ongoing prayer for.
3. Because prayers are worth sharing
Every time you invite another person to partner with you in prayer, you magnify the power of prayer. In light of Jesus’ parable about the neighbor who knocks at midnight, you add another person knocking.
Food for thought: imagine how quickly you would answer the door if your house was surrounded by knocking neighbors.
Using prayer lists in your Faithlife Group lets everyone in your group connect to a single source, so you everyone can see everything your group needs prayer for.
4. Because prayer needs can grow
Prayer lists aren’t set in stone. When your ministry or small group has new prayer requests, you can add them to the list. In your Faithlife Group, you can adjust the privacy settings so that only group members can see your prayer list, or so that only group members can add to or modify the list.
If you want to keep prayer requests for your staff private, you can. If you want to share the list with elders, or small group leaders, or your congregation as a whole, you can do that too. Prayer lists in your Faithlife Group can be as open or as private as you need them to be.
When your prayer list starts with Christian community, you can share prayer requests with people who pray, without exposing your private life to the world.
How do you remind yourself to pray? Tell us in the comments!
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Create a Faithlife Group for free with your ministry team, small group, or church, and build a prayer list together. With the free Faithlife app, you can access your team’s prayer needs from anywhere.
You can also join the Faithlife Group, “Prayer Partners,” to start sharing and praying with fellow believers right now.
In the Bible, Jesus performed a lot of miracles. He healed people. He had power over nature. He even overcame death. But what about the miracles he didn’t do? Here are three instances in the Bible where Jesus chose not to do the miraculous wonders he was known for:
1. A miracle without faith
In Mark 6 (and Matthew 13), Jesus returns to Nazareth, his hometown. These people knew Jesus before he started his ministry.
And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him (Mark 6:2–3).
Two verses later: “And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them” (Mark 6:5). The NLT says, “And because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them.”
While the NIV says Jesus couldn’t do miracles in Nazareth, this isn’t suggesting that faith is some sort of fuel for miracles, and Jesus was running on empty. Most likely, the lack of faith meant that people didn’t ask Jesus to help them—or else, because of their lack of faith, Jesus chose not to. The bottom line is, there was no faith, so in this instance, he didn’t.
2. A “sign from heaven”
After Jesus feeds the 4,000 in Decapolis, he and his disciples get into a boat and head to Dalmanutha.
The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him. And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” And he left them, got into the boat again, and went to the other side (Mark 8:11–13).
Miracles are not for our entertainment. They are not a prerequisite for faith. If all of creation testifies about its creator (Romans 1:20, Psalm 19:1), why should he have to give us a personal sign from heaven on top of that? If you ask God for a sign from heaven like the Pharisees, chances are you’ll be disappointed like the Pharisees.
3. A miracle that contradicted God’s plan
As Jesus hung on the Cross, his divinity was mocked. Again, people wanted to see a sign from heaven, and their requests for a miracle emerged from a severe lack of faith—they did not believe Jesus was who he said he was, and they would not believe him unless the God of the universe did what they asked, right then and there. As he hung there dying, Jesus, who was fully God, could have come down from that cross. Fully man, Jesus may have even been tempted by the prospect (Hebrews 2:18). But he didn’t come down.
And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!” So also the chief priests with the scribes mocked him to one another, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe” (Mark 15:29–32).
Jesus didn’t come down because the Cross had a purpose. The miracle of his survival would have undermined the greater miracle of his resurrection.
It’s easy to think about the miracles that Jesus did do. In brief interactions, he radically altered people’s lives. But his ways are higher (Isaiah 55:8–9), and because of that, the miracles Jesus didn’t do are equally important in helping us understand the inexplicable.
Prayer lists add unique functionality to Faithlife Groups. Here’s a quick primer on what they can do, and how to get the most out of them.
Setting user permissions
Faithlife Groups offer five levels of access, and empowers you to set privacy settings that suite your group’s unique needs. In the group settings panel, determine which members will be permitted to connect to group prayer lists, create and share new prayer lists, and remove requests.
Regarding prayer lists, you have three decisions to make:
- Connect to prayer lists—That is, follow prayer lists. Anyone connected to a prayer list will be able to add requests of their own, see details on other added requests, and receive notifications about prayer requests inside their Faithlife Study Bible app.
- Create/Share new prayer lists—New prayer lists are created from inside Logos 5 (more on that later), and shared to a Faithlife group, but you may wish to limit access to only certain people, like administrators or moderators.
- Remove prayer lists—Prayer lists can be deleted easily, so guard this permission a little more cautiously to prevent inadvertent deletion.
For a more detailed explanation of all privacy controls and user permissions on Faithlife.com, check out the post “Understanding the Privacy Settings on Faithlife.com.”
Creating new prayer lists in Logos 5
It’s easy. Select “Prayer lists” from the documents menu, give your list a title and start adding requests right away. You can set frequency and duration for each request and add tags so that your prayer requests so you can find them again later.
Then, visit Documents.Logos.com to share it with a group. The “Collaborate” option will give a group ownership of your prayer list, so that members can add their own requests to it.
You could, for example, create a prayer list about a missions trip that your small group plans to make together. You would create the list in Logos 5, seeding it with some general requests like “financial support” and “safe travels.” After announcing the trip, you could share the list with your group at Documents.Logos.com, and then members could connect to it and add their own more specific prayer requests.
Add a prayer list to the group’s sidebar
Though a prayer list may belong to a group, it may still not appear on the group’s page. A group administrator or moderator can add group lists to the sidebar for all to see. Tab over to the “Sidebar” section of the group settings menu, and drag a prayer-list widget to make shared prayer requests visible to all group members.
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Faithlife Groups are the digital home for your faith community. It’s free to join and invite others. Tools like prayer lists, reading plans, Community Notes, and a group newsletter make it easier than ever to communicate, collaborate, and fellowship around the Word of God. Join today at Faithlife.com.
Our prayers often resemble the mischievous tricks of town children, who knock at their neighbor’s houses and then run away; we often knock at Heaven’s door and then run off into the spirit of the world; instead of waiting for entrance and answer, we act as if we were afraid of having our prayers answered.
This passage is from Thoughts for the Quiet Hour, a fantastic daily devotional compiled by D. L. Moody. It’s available at Logos.com—buy it today, and you can enjoy more great insights like this each morning.
The Faithlife Study Bible makes daily devotions more convenient than ever before. Through this one free app, you can read Scripture, access helpful study notes and multimedia, and let the greatest theologians and Bible teachers in the world guide your study with add-on resources from Logos.com. If daily time in God’s Word is one of your New Year’s resolutions, the Faithlife Study Bible is the perfect tool for you.
It’s difficult to pray as a family. If you manage to get everyone in the same room, paying attention to something other than a glowing screen, try one of these three methods to lead your family in prayer—and keep even the youngest believers engaged.
Young children sometimes need help knowing what to pray, but scripted prayers quickly lose their meaning and become repetitive. Stop just short of a script by starting a sentence and prompting them to finish it. This method provides the combination of structure and freedom that children need.
Use sentences like:
- “God, thank you for . . .”
- “God, forgive me for . . .”
- “God, help me be more . . .”
- “God, help my friend . . .”
- “God, give me the courage to . . .”
- “God, help me let go of . . .”
Highs & lows
Have your children share their daily “highs” and “lows” each night before bed. Share yours, too, and then pray about all of them together. This works with children of all ages. It’s simple enough for pre-K children to understand, and I’ve seen it get even the most stoic teenager talking.
For older children, use a newspaper or a news website to lift their eyes to issues in the world at large. Take turns flipping through newspapers, and have every member of the family highlight one news item to pray about.
What techniques do you use to get your family praying together? Let us know in comments.
The Holy Ghost does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men—men of prayer.
—E. M. Bounds
If you enjoyed this Quotes of the Week, we have good news: there’s a lot more where that came from. 300 Quotations for Preachers will help you find precisely the right words for any occasion.
Visit Blog.Faithlife.com every Tuesday for an inspirational, thought-provoking quote from a Christian leader, historical figure, or scholar.
Healthy relationships are fueled by dialog—ongoing, honest, two-way conversation. Without open lines of communication, a relationship withers. Nowhere is this more true than in our relationship with God. He speaks to us through the Scriptures, the very words of God preserved for us over many centuries, and he invites us to speak to him through prayer. This is a remarkable invitation. The God of heaven and earth invites us to speak directly to him, and he promises to listen.
Despite all this, most believers seldom pray honestly. Most of us pray regularly, at least bowing our heads while the pastor prays, but it becomes much more difficult to speak honestly with God when no one else is listening.
A. W. Tozer puts it like this: “We cannot seem to get our minds into good working order, and the first thing we have to fight is wandering thoughts. The great battle in private prayer is overcoming this problem of our idle and wandering thinking. We have to learn to discipline our minds and concentrate on willful, deliberate prayer.”
Here are three steps you can take to cultivate a habit of prayer that is both consistent and genuine.
Keep a list
A prayer list will help you stay organized. If you have an affinity for lists, chances are you’re already doing this; if you don’t self-identify as a “list person,” consider keeping just this one. A written list, whether physical or digital, will keep you from making a flippant “I’ll pray for you” promise with intention of following through. We created the prayer widget to help you keep track of your prayer requests. Here’s an explanation of how to use it.
Avoid mimicking what you hear
If you grew up in church, you may be familiar with a particular style or cadence of prayer. There is nothing wrong with this kind of style, but it does miss the point. Prayer is one half of a conversation. It’s your chance to speak directly to God. Speak as yourself, not as someone else. Mimic what you hear others praying and you’ll quickly find yourself making rote prayers, built with snap-together phrases that, though they have a pious ring, have become devoid of meaning. If you hear the prayer of another whom you admire, mimic its spirit, but use your own words. Use words that you would use in conversation.
Write prayers out
This might also feel funny if you’ve never done it before, but writing (or typing) a prayer to God can help overcome many of the challenge that Tozer pointed out. Silent, private prayer can often degrade from prayer to thought, and thinking is not the same as praying. (Click to tweet) Let’s be honest: it’s also easy to get distracted or doze off. A pen or keyboard keeps your mind focused.
Beyond these three suggestions, how do you keep your prayer life vibrant and strong?
Today is the National Day of Prayer, a chance for us to unite in faith and pray for our country and community. Take this day to reflect and talk to God about:
Our Country— It has been a challenging year for America– Aurora, Sandy Hook, West Texas, and the Boston Marathon. Even those of us who were not directly affected felt the ripples because after all, “this land is your land, this land is my land.” While the National Day of Prayer is a traditionally American observance, instituted by President Truman in 1952, its spirit ignores nationalistic borders. There are a lot of hurting people this country, and every other. Let’s spend a day standing with all of them in prayer.
Your Community— There are hurting people in your city. In your neighborhood. On your block. National Day of Prayer is a great time to remember that. Pray for those nameless faces that you see every day. Pray for God to make himself known to them, but remember that sometimes, you are the answer to your own prayers. (click to tweet)
Your Church— It has been said that happy families are all the same, but unhappy families are unhappy in their own way. I think the same is true of churches. There are no perfect churches, just like there are no perfect families. Every church has its own unique strengths and pitfalls. Instead of focusing on the negative, spend some time thanking God for the faith community that he built around you.
As you celebrate National Day of Prayer, why not take advantage of the Prayer widget that we’ve built into the Faithlife Groups experience. With this simple tool it’s easy to keep track of prayer requests in your small group.
If you have not created one for your Faithlife group yet, it’s very easy. Click on “Group Settings” and look for it under the “sidebar” tab.