And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel. . . .
— Ephesians 6:18-19
We love people. We want God's best for them. We so quickly say, "I'll pray for you" to those going through tough times — a family member, neighbor, grocery store clerk, pastor or friend from church. But do we?
Here's a creative, helpful way to have a "place" for every prayer request so you can be sure to pray. Think of it as a way to pray every day.
Take time to pray for each member of your family. Include extended family members. Entrust each one to the Lord. Wherever they are in their relationship with God, pray that He draws them "ever one step closer." Be as specific as you can as you pray that He will meet them at their point of need.
Pray for the church, starting with your local church. Pray for your pastor(s), ministry leaders (e.g., elders, deacons, missionaries, teachers, nursery workers) and their families. Who else in the church needs prayer? Now think of the church around the world. Pray that the Gospel would be preached "as of first importance" (1 Corinthians 15:1-11).
Think about the groups where you are an "insider" and pray for the people you see regularly — those you live near, work with, bump into at school or the store, and so forth. How have they asked you to pray for them? Pray that the Lord will meet each one at his or her point of need, both physically and spiritually, according to His will.
Pray for the revival of God's people, and that we'll be "Jesus in jeans" as we truly love and serve those around us. Pray for those in authority. Ask God to bring to mind local and national spiritual and political leaders, and pray for each. Pray about national issues and challenges, such as the economy and its impact on everyday families.
Pray that God will use His people to help others "to know Christ and to make Him known." Pray that revived Christ followers would respond with Jesus' love, grace, compassion and wisdom to social struggles — add to your prayer list specific needs you are aware of. Pray for the persecuted church. Finally, pray for the advance of the Gospel everywhere, toward Matthew 24:14.
As part of a regular Pray Every Day strategy, on Saturdays take time to pray for the down-and-out. Start with the world, draw closer to your nation, closer to your state, and closer still to your own community. List the names of and pray for the physically and spiritually afflicted. Pray specifically for ministries that are reaching out to the helpless, hopeless, hurting and lost.
Finally, take time to pray for your own personal needs. Sometimes we pray for everything and everyone else but forget to pray for ourselves. On Sundays, pull away and pray for yourself. Walk with God through every aspect of your life — your personal, family, work, community, and church aspects of your life. Say, "Speak whatever to me, Lord, I'm listening!"
See how this can help you become more intentional in your prayer life? Indeed, prayer is the most important conversation of the day — with the Creator of the universe who is there, who cares, and who listens with an ear to respond both for His glory and for the good of people!