I am at the place in my life where I need to write down most everything that I hope to remember - I should never have started using that Palm Pilot in 2001. Today, I use the task manager Todoist, the note-taking app Keep, and the document storage service Drive just to keep my thoughts, work, and life together. I also use a series of prayer lists in order to keep myself on track in my prayer life. When I tell you that I will be praying for you - it means that I will be adding your name to one of these lists.
Within my Bible software (Logos), that I open up each morning for my devotional Bible study, there is a prayer list feature. I have created various lists and the program places them before me on a rotating basis throughout the week. In addition to the prayer list that we have in our bulletin and specific people that I add to it for my prayers, I have lists for family, extended family, friends, ministries of our congregation and school, district & synod leaders and staff, our homebound members, our members who are in college and other schools, our members who are serving in the military, our staff and boards (as well as council), the pastors in our circuit, and a copy of the vows I made before God and you when I was installed as your pastor. Each morning, the program presents me with a few of these lists to pray through. As I pray through each list, I think about each person - with their particular joys and challenges. When I have no idea what those are it is a reminder that I need to invest a bit more time in that relationship. I also pray through our list of members from my contact list on my phone.
Do you maintain a prayer list? While this is not a necessity, it can be a real help. For me, it helps me to make better use of my prayer time. Just as my task list manager prevents me from wasting a lot of time each day trying to figure out what I should be working on, my prayer lists call to my memory the important persons and ministries that I want to include in my prayers. Instead of sitting there during my devotions and trying to think “who should I pray for?,” I am able to begin praying. I use my prayer lists during my morning prayers and at night I reflect on the day and think about who and what situations I need to take before our Lord before I sleep. It may be that my system will not work for you, and that is OK. I offer it here to stimulate your thinking about how you may structure your prayer life. I do know this for sure - if we are not intentional in our planning for prayer it will seldom happen - except for the 911 prayers that we utter in a crisis. Thinking that we will pray when we have some time to set aside for it is just wishful thinking.