Prayer Lists

William Sangster, the great Methodist preacher of a generation or two ago, in his book Teach Me To Pray, encouraged his readers to devote a minimum of 10 minutes a morning to prayer. He suggested that those two minutes should be divided up into seven sections: adoration, thanksgiving, dedication, guidance, intercession and petition.

With regard to intercession – praying for others – he wrote:

Have a prayer list. Praying without method is not serious prayer. When you get to heaven and realize all that prayer did on this earth, you will be ashamed that you prayed so ill. The casual recollection of people in need, or prayers only for one’s dear ones, or prayer too general – common weaknesses as these are – can all be overcome by a prayer list kept up to date and daily used.

I am sure Sangster was right. Indeed, just this afternoon, I have been revising my personal prayer list. Like many others, I have a basic template which I follow. I divide a 6” x 4” (152 x 101 mm) record card with ruled lines into the days of the week. Then the days of the week are subdivided into various categories.

  1. First and foremost there is my family – I pray for all the members of my family every day. As a husband, father, and grandfather I have a particularly responsibility for my immediate family.

  2. Secondly I pray for my colleagues on the ministry team – I pray for all of them too every day.

  3. I then pray for my deacons – I confess I do not pray for all my deacons every day, rather they are divided up throughout the week

  4. Monday – Friday I pray for our church centre – for the paid staff, and also for the volunteers who work in the Oasis Cafe as also for the receptionists

  5. I go on to pray for all the church activities of the week – these too are divided up according to which day of the week the various groups and organisations are meeting

  6. Every day I pray for a different group of ministers – I believe that I have a particular responsibility for my fellow ministers. One day I pray for Baptist ministers in mid-Essex; another day for the town-centre ministers; one day I pray for ministers of ‘larger’ Baptist churches in our Association, another day I pray for regional and national staff working for the Baptist Union; while yet another day I pray for ministers working with the BMS. In addition I pray for Board member of Ministry Day, as also for other individual minister with whom I have links. It’s quite a detailed list of names

  7. The next two sections are totally blank apart from the heading: ‘Yesterday’ and ‘Today’. In my prayers I remember people I met yesterday, and then people whom I shall meet in the day ahead

  8. The final section is entitled ‘Special Needs’: here I list not just organisations with which I am involved (e.g. the J’s Hospice, the Society of Mary & Martha based at Sheldon, Ministry Today, and Rotary), but also individuals for whom I have a particular concern.

Needless to say, my personal praying is not confined to my prayer list. There are times, for instance, when I work my way through the church handbook – but that really does take time going through. And of course, neither is my praying limited to personal praying – every Monday morning, for instance, I meet with my colleagues to pray for the church. But without this structure, I believe that my praying would be more limited and less focussed.

But enough of me. My concern in writing this blog is for others reading this article to develop their own list in a way which is appropriate for them, so that together we can pray more effectively for the Kingdom of God.

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