(Still) Planning to Pray

In 2016 I wrote about how I planned to focus on prayer for the year. 

I’m pleased to report that it stuck! 😅

Almost SIX YEARS LATER, it’d be an understatement to say that a lot changed in the world and my life. What I wasn’t ready to mention in that post was that we had just gone through a miscarriage over Christmas. 2016 brought the start of medical fertility treatments. In the coming years, we went through another miscarriage, more treatment, the end of treatment, the start of the adoption process in 2018, waiting to be chosen, growing in our understanding of adoption, then at the end of 2019 becoming parents to our daughter in an open adoption, receiving her Cystic Fibrosis diagnosis, and in 2020, while facing a global pandemic, we moved across the country from Iowa to Texas. 

Thank goodness prayer was a constant, although it should come as no surprise that I didn’t always have the energy or desire to pray. I know everyone is different, but for me, it’s helped so much to have a schedule, a template, and a habit for prayer. Because I can’t always muster it, or remember, or think of things to pray. The flesh is weak— anyone else?

Since starting my weekly prayer sheets on that menu planning notepad back in 2016, I have evolved my prayer list, and wanted to share it with you. You can print and write, fill it in digitally, or create something totally new that works for you.

I have to say a HUGE thank you to the church friends who motivated me to finish this post and share this template. I shared about my little prayer sheet at a women’s event the other night and offered to send it to anyone who wanted it. And as I was talking I remembered, “Oh yeah, I wrote something to go with it that I still haven’t posted….” Oops! So thank you, ladies, and here it is: Blank Prayer Sheet

I type everything in, print the sheet, trim the edges, then fold it in half so I see 3 boxes at a time. (I don’t remember why I didn’t fill the whole page… I must have liked something about the smaller size.) I keep the verses and categories the same, but change the list up every few months or so. I keep a pen handy and write in new things as they come up, and once the list gets marked up I go back and re-type it.

*Note: I didn’t include Saturday & Sunday on my sheet. My routine is always different on the weekends, so I go “off-book” on those days. But because I pray for the same things over and over, it’s easy to remember the daily list and pray for those concerns. 

Here’s a breakdown of how I use the categories:

-First of all, underneath each day I typed a character trait of God and a verse to go with it. I didn’t include this on the blank template so you could plug in whatever you want: memory verses, statement of truth, promise, affirmation, or whatever is helpful to you. 

My five character traits are: 

Monday: God is Creator (Genesis 1:1-3) 

Tuesday: God is Holy (Isaiah 6:1-3)

Wednesday: God is Love (1 John 4:16)

Thursday: God is Light (1 John 1:5,7)

Friday: God is Wise (Romans 11:33-36)

(I went through each of these during my Verse of the Week series, and you can find the start of the Character of God verses here.)

-Confession: I typically use the character trait and my daily prayer theme to guide my confession unless God’s Spirit places something else on my heart. Sometimes it’s a confession of sin, sometimes it’s a confession of a need or a weakness. So sure, I might confess sin and ask for forgiveness, but other times I confess that I take God’s love for granted, or don’t seek God’s wisdom, or have a need to better understand God’s holiness, etc.

-Thanks: The quote about “what if you woke up tomorrow with only the things you thanked God for today” has always stuck with me… I’m really glad God doesn’t work that way, and I don’t love the scolding tone of the quote, but it’s thought-provoking and convicting, even though it should be served with a grain of salt. Anyway, I committed to giving thanks for the things I often take for granted: all the stuff I have in my home that I can wear, use and enjoy. A car. Good memories with my family. Access to food and medicine. Friendship. Thankfulness goes with the theme for the day. 

-Harvest: This is where I pray for the people I know (or even who I don’t know) who I hope will accept God’s gift of salvation through Jesus. We were doing a prayer focus on this at our church at the time, and I just never stopped.

My themes for each day are:

Monday: Household (Spouse & child, home, finances, work, etc.)

Tuesday: Extended family

Wednesday: Church family and missionaries

Thursday: Friends

Friday: Health

-Daily Prayer: This is the part I update and change the most, and it always involves a lot of names, but generally the list includes… those who have lost loved ones (I keep people on my list for at least 1 year), those going through infertility and adoption, our adoption constellation, people with ongoing health concerns, any specific requests for our household, requests for the Church at large, and current events (right now it’s the war in Ukraine and racial justice in the US). 

I know I’m pretty extra in my structured ways, and this may not be everyone’s style. And I will say, this is not the only way I pray, and not usually the part of my prayer life where I have spiritual breakthroughs or see new, deep truths. This is just one of my basics, something that keeps me on track with bases covered. It’s heartfelt because it was important enough to me to plan it and put it in front of my face every day, but it can absolutely get rote and habitual sometimes. I don’t think that’s bad. I think it’s one piece of the prayer puzzle, and if it might help you, I’d love for you to try it.

And if you do something different, feel free to share it with me! I love seeing other ideas for making prayer part of daily life. 

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