Ever wondered how to organize your prayer life?
By: Cathy McIntosh
My wait was over. I finally felt the Lord’s nod to take a deeper step into a ministry project that I’d daydreamed about for years. As I moved forward, how could I have known I’d encounter valuable lessons to prompt me to lean how to organize my prayer life?
The first few days of the new project were filled with excitement and anticipation. But within a few days I was nearly undone by overwhelm.
Countless details cried for my attention and I struggled to prioritize them all. Curriculum needed developing, prayers needed offering, members needed recruiting, and systems needed creating. I knew I needed a plan—something that provided structure to all of the thoughts that swirled in my head.
I spent several hours one weekend charting a course. I brainstormed, listed, time-blocked, color-coded, and calendared. Any organizing guru would have been proud. By the end of the weekend, with details mapped and drawn out, I could see a much bigger picture and thought, “I can actually do this!”
The Trouble With Organizing
In faith circles, the process of organizing can sometimes take a bad rap.
Organizing and planning, some believe, limit the work of the Holy Spirit.
I suppose that could be true—if we make an immovable monument out of our plans. But I believe it’s possible to organize while still leaving room for the Holy Spirit to move.
For me, the difference between idolizing my plans and remaining surrendered to God is Proverbs 16:9 (ESV) which says,
“The heart of a man plans His way but the Lord directs his steps.”
The truth is, I’m more focused and motivated when I have a plan, especially when my blueprint is merely a suggestion that I lay at the Lord’s feet. Whenever He chooses to interrupt and shift my course, I surrender to His lead and make new plans as needed.
The same is true when organizing my prayer life.
How to Organize Your Prayer Life
Prayer is an often repeated topic of conversation in faith circles. You may wonder about some of the same questions that have come up in groups and Bible studies:
How do I keep track of prayer requests?
How do you structure a prayer?
How should I create a weekly prayer schedule?
How can I stay focused during prayer?
How do you organize a prayer meeting?
These are all valid and important questions that revolve around one basic concept: how to organize your prayer life. I’m grateful for many simple solutions to help develop and organized prayer life that help me look at the bigger picture and say, “I can do this!”
A prayer plan melts away concerns and allows me to press into God and rest in His sacred place.
1. Organize Your Prayer Structure
The most basic way to organize prayer is to develop a specific time to meet with the Lord each day.
I’ve discovered having a simple routine that I try to follow each day helps me prepare my heart, approach the Lord with reverence, and minimize distractions.
For me, the most peaceful time for prayer is while my husband is in the shower. The house is still quiet, most often my man has already delivered a cup of hot coffee (what a blessing), and I enjoy the background white noise of the running water.
Segmenting my prayer time is also helpful, and using acronyms or different prayer prompts walks me through step by step.
One acronym I created and use often is P.O.W.E.R. It stands for praise the Lord, offer thanks, warfare, embrace God’s instruction, and repent.
These prompts remind me to turn to God with worship and gratitude before I begin interceding for needs in the “warfare” section. I’m also reminded to listen for God’s leading and acknowledging action I feel the Holy Spirit prompting. And of course, I want to repent daily to keep a clean heart before Him.
2. Use a Prayer Journal to Stay Organized
Have you ever asked God for something then completely forgotten that you asked?
I’m certainly prone to that kind of forgetfulness, and it has become my main motivation for using a prayer journal. Jotting down the things I pray helps me remember to acknowledge and praise God for the way He answers and shows me His involvement.
Reviewing entries in my prayer journal often helps me slow down and reflect on God’s love and provision.
A prayer journal often serves as a tool to help keep track of prayer requests. I like to use a small prayer journal that I can easily carry with me.
If I run into a friend in the grocery store and she asks for prayer, I can make a quick note before I head home. For me, this works better than jotting a note into my cell phone because it helps me keep technology tucked out of reach when I turn to God in prayer.
Whenever possible, though, I try to pray with a friend in need right there on the spot. It takes only a few minutes, my friend receives the blessing of the words God places on my heart, and I’m relieved from trying to remember to pray when I promised I would.
3. Organizing What to Pray
Here’s something I never expected. When others discover that you are a man or woman of prayer, they begin to ask for your prayer support. A lot.
I’ve seen it countless times. Just leading out in prayer at a Bible study or posting a prayer online is all it takes. Suddenly, friends, church members, and sometimes people you’ve never met begin to ask for prayer. It’s a beautiful privilege, but can feel weighty at times.
Add to that the hurt and pain that’s in the world and it’s easy to feel overcome with prayer needs.
Pastors need ongoing prayer. People are sick and hurting. Injustice is everywhere. National leaders need God’s guidance. Everywhere I look spurs another need for prayer. A very helpful way to navigate is to plan a different prayer focus for each day of the week, such as:
- Sunday pastors, marriages, and family
- Monday work and business, health and healing
- Tuesday national and global issues, community and national leaders (to include military, first responders, healthcare workers)
- Wednesday salvation and spiritual growth
- Thursday friends and coworkers
- Friday personal dreams and goals
- Saturday extended family and neighbors
I’m stating the obvious when I say this is a flexible plan! Because I pray for health and healing on Mondays does not prevent me from praying for a sick friend on a Thursday, or for a hurting marriage on a Saturday. Planning should never bypass the prompting of the Holy Spirit or make us postpone encouragement to someone in need.
Throughout the Bible, we see the Lord as a God of order. 1 Corinthians 14:40 says all thing should be done decently and with order. Of course that applies to my prayer live. I’ve experienced how—when I don’t embrace a plan—the burden of prayer can keep me from meeting with God each day.
I’ve seen first-hand how having an organized prayer life frees me to release the weight of expectation and step into grace. It’s there that I meet with God, feel His presence, and relish in His goodness.
How to Organize Your
Prayer Life: What Are Your Suggestions?
Most of us struggle to hold onto joy when life gets hard. Cathy McIntosh is passionate about helping you nourish your spirit and pursue your calling so inner joy becomes unshakable, no matter what. Read more from Cathy at www.cathymcintosh.com.