Nemo and his brother came into our family after a succession of other goldfish died. Nemo’s brother passed away rather unexpectedly when Brandon accidentally lost control of the ice cream scoop and sent ice cream flying into the goldfish bowl. By the time I reached the kitchen to respond to all the yelling, the bowl was milky white, and nary a fish could be seen. Needless to say it was rather traumatic for the fish. Nemo’s brother (whose name I think was also Nemo) didn’t make it.
Braxton, who was around 4 at the time, was not happy. He told me, “Mom, I sure hope Nemo doesn’t die. I want him to live a long time.” Given our previous history with fish, I told Braxton that he should pray and ask God to help Nemo live. So, Braxton did. He bowed his little head and said very simply, “God, please help Nemo live a long time.” God answered Braxton’s prayer, and that little goldfish lived for so many years that we lost count.
James 5:16 tells us, “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” But how often do we simply forget to prayer? Or maybe, like me, you become overwhelmed by the gravity of the task. After all, there are so many things for which to pray. How can we possibly find the time to mention them all, and if not, how do we choose what to leave out?
Then again, sometimes the problem is a matter of focus. How many times have I begun a prayer only to find myself a few minutes later contemplating what I need to fix for supper. Prayer shouldn’t be complicated, but let’s face it. Sometimes it just is. Maybe the problem is that we aren’t prepared.
While there is much to be said about preparing ourselves spiritually to pray, I’m actually talking more literally here. Part of our problem with praying is that we fail to make a plan. We plan our work days. We plan for vacation. We plan for our children’s futures. We plan for our retirement. But we seldom plan to pray.
Without a solid plan of action, prayer can become overwhelming. But with a little preparation, prayer can not only be a meaningful time of communion with God but also an intimate, creative time of fellowship in His presence.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Keep a prayer journal. Each week jot down things for which to thanksgivings as well as requests. Walk through your list as you pray. (It’s OK to open your eyes. I promise!)
Print off the lyrics to your favorite praise and worship song. Open your prayer time by reading or singing them to the Lord.
Focus your prayers around a particular holiday or theme. So, for example, during the month of February, you could start each prayer with “I love you God because…”
Write your prayers in the form of a letter to God. (He doesn’t need the US Postal Service for delivery).
Search prayers in the Bible. Write them out and pray them to the Lord.
Organization in our spiritual life is not a sin. Our God is not a God of disorder (1 Corinthians 14:33). Making plans can help us stay focused, motivated, and consistent in our faith. What about you? Do you think planning can make a difference in your prayer life? What tips or tricks have you found helpful?
If you want to organize your prayer time, print or download A Plan for Prayer worksheet. Don’t forget to share this FREE resource!