Intentional and Specific Prayer

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This week at Bible study we made prayer jars. We decorated washed out salsa and pickle jars and then filled them up with people we want to pray for. It was really cool listening to the Holy Spirit and writing down names of the most important people in my life. The purpose of the prayer jar is to encourage intentional, specific, and focused prayer. Every day I will pick out a little piece of paper from the prayer jar and all day I will lift up that person (or couple) in prayer. It’s a powerful thing.

Every Thursday night at YouthWorks there is a foot washing. The church groups sit in a circle. The YouthWorks staff comes around and washes each adult leaders’ feet. After washing their feet, they pray for that adult leader, usually with a hand on the shoulder. Then the adult leader goes around washing the feet of each of their youth and praying for them in turn.

When I was in middle school I had my first foot washing experience. The actual act of having your feet washed is very humbling and moving, but the part that was most impactful for me was having someone I looked up to lift me up in prayer out loud for me to hear. My leader dedicated that minute or so to only me. She was focused on me, on talking to God about me, on calling out the awesome things she’d seen in me, and in asking God to make me better. It felt great!

And it continues to feel great to be prayed for. It feels wonderful when someone says they’ve been praying for me, especially if they’ve been praying for a specific area of my life or situation. It feels great to be seen and thought of and cared for in that way.

I’m really excited to make use of my prayer jar. I already picked someone out for this evening and I wrote I think my longest prayer journal entry this month! It was powerful and meaningful for me to lift up this couple in prayer and to imagine ways that the Lord might bless them (and test them) in the coming days, weeks, and months. I’m looking forward to intentionally and routinely thinking about the needs of someone other than myself. This is going to be a good habit I can already tell.

Here’s what my prayers have looked like this week:

Thank You for her words that I am a kinder person. That is great. That was all You, Lord, and I’m so grateful for the work You have done in my life and in my person and the work You continue to do. Remember when my word of the year was “softer?” I feel softer. And I want to keep getting softer. I don’t ever want to be soft enough!

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I thank You for their commitment to honor You and each other in their relationship and I pray that they would stick to that commitment, even when it makes things more complicated. I pray that You would lead them and guide them in the coming months and years and that their focus would ever be on You – as a couple and as individuals.

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Thank You for those throughout history who have identified You and shared You with other people. Thank You for the varied and beautiful ways of the universal church, for inviting us into that specifically this summer through YouthWorks. I pray that our eyes would be opened and our hearts would be opened. I pray that pride and fear wouldn’t get in the way of worship. I pray that Your kingdom would come this summer, this year, this lifetime, and that every church would look more like heaven every day. I pray for Your will to be done and for Your name to be praised. I am grateful to be a part of it. Please help me to be obedient.

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My whole life has felt like a risk and yet You continue to show up. You continue to provide. I have no doubts that I am exactly where I am supposed to be and it’s cool to look around the room and know the same is true for everyone in that room, no matter where they came from or where they’re going back to on Monday. When it comes to what’s happening with my writing or my “brand,” I trust You. I put it all directly into Your hands. I’ll write what You ask me to write. I’ll take every opportunity I can and I want to use it all to praise Your name, to point to You and to point to the You in other people.

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Please heal her cancer. Help me to pray for things like cancer and health and relationships and decisions with the same fervor I prayed to find my dogs. Ay. Priorities.

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I pray that she would be able to feel good about her body and all of the wonderful things it does. I pray that she would feel supported and comforted and not alone in her pain. I pray that she would be bold and brave to tell people how she really and actually feels. I pray that she would get as much time as she needs to grieve – from her husband, her family, and her friends. I pray that she would feel seen.

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