I have the great joy of being a small church pastor. Because it is small, I know everyone, and because I know everyone, I can pray specifically for them by name.
As a pastor I consider it a privilege as well as a responsibility to pray daily for those in my congregation. But I confess it is easy to resort to token prayers. You know the ones: “Lord, be with Jim today—and Andrew and Janet.”
The dailyness of prayer—the dailyness of anything—can suck the life and thought out of a task, even one like going before the throne of the living God for the people he has given me to love.
But prayer is not just one of many responsibilities—it is a primary one. I have wrestled with this privileged responsibility since the good people at Christ Community Church allowed me to come among them. While my ever-present goal is to pray for them each day, the method by which I seek to accomplish this has varied.
I want to share how I attempt (sometimes better than others) to keep rote prayers at bay. And my prayer as I write this is that you, whether pastor or church member, may be encouraged to pray for the people you fellowship with on a weekly basis.
Simple Prayer Schedule
First, I have days of the week set aside for specific requests. Mondays involve asking God to remind us of and cement in us the truths we talked about on Sunday, and to remind us that only in Christ will we bear any fruit related to the commands of Scripture. Everyone gets the same prayer, but they each get it by name. Sometimes that’s a struggle. It can sound rote, trite even. But I believe God hears.
Wednesdays are for marriages, and Thursdays are set aside solely for kids. While these Wednesday and Thursday prayers may vary based on needs I’m aware of, those days give me focus and variety that helps me to persevere.
Saturdays are for preparation: I ask God to prepare our hearts.
Second, I don’t leave Tuesdays and Fridays to chance or whim; I’ve been seeking to pray Scripture on behalf of each person. At one point I prayed a verse from Ephesians for each person each day:
- God, show Mark that he is blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.
- God, remind Debbie that she is sealed by your Holy Spirit.
- God, impress on Beth that her words today should be for building up and imparting grace.
If I prayed nothing else but Scripture, I could come to the end of my life not having exhausted the wealth of available petitions.
Pray, Plan, Persevere
The burden of prayer is great, but the dailyness of it shouldn’t be the burden. Yet it’s easy to make it so when we feel we have nothing to say, or when we tire of saying the same things over and over and over again.
What I’ve outlined isn’t the only way to pray, but it is one. And as Winnie the Pooh says, “If there’s a one way of doing something, there must be a two way.” So pray. And plan to pray. Think ahead to what your time with God will look like as you prepare to enter his throne room. Find a place where you will not be distracted. And then pray for the people God has put in your life.