Sunday Devotion: Praying With Purpose


Do you keep a prayer journal?

Or do you keep a reminder list of things you want to lift up in prayer?

I remember being 20 years old in college. Struggling to stay on a prayer routine. You’re sharing a dorm room with another person who may or may not share your nightly routine. You can devote those ten minutes when you lay down to prayer, but sometimes they would be interrupted by questions, or noises, or distractions–or even worse, sleep.

Around that time I realized that I needed to find a new way to keep up with my prayers and coincidentally the realization happened around the same time my good friend Casey mentioned that she would add something I had been mulling over to her prayer list. She had a piece of paper with everything on it that she wanted to pray over each day. It was pretty great. And simple.

Here I was just going through the usual mill. (And mind you, I LOVE prayer. I could spend quite the time talking to God.) But I was running in some circles. Thank you, God for A, B, C and D. Please bless A, B, C and D. Please forgive 1, 2 and 3.

What a bore. I’m sure God was finely entertained by my conversation, but at the same time–it could have been so much more.

After seeing Casey’s list I started doing the same. When I would think of someone throughout the day, or a friend would mention a struggle or hope–to the list it went. And then when I was between classes or up early, I’d pull the list out. There’s no shame in praying by your notes, right? You don’t have to know it by heart.

What began as praying over a list kind of evolved over time.

Now I pray over a personal list too. Have something heavy on my heart? I have on that list a request for clarity. I’ve prayed for people to open their heart to me. I’ve prayed that God can use me to connect with certain people. I’ve prayed for friends to deliver healthy babies and I’ve prayed for other friends’s businesses to improve. I’ve prayed for peace and closure, I’ve prayed for a new church home and I’ve prayed for my brother to do his best on the SAT.

Long-term things. Things that won’t be solved in a week. Short-term things that will be decided tomorrow. Everything is list-acceptable.

The joy is experiencing the moment when you see God’s work. The day you get the SAT score or the day you finally sit in a pew that feels like home.


Then I date it. And check it.

And you know what? If it doesn’t work out? That’s dated and checked too.

Prayer MOVES things. Prayer is so powerful. But you have to really put a pulse on it to really appreciate its entirety.

One of my challenges is relinquishing power. It is really hard for me to not try to control my life. It’s hard for me to always trust that God’s got it under control, that he’s moving the tides. I often fall under the illusion that if I do this or go there, I’ll make what I want to happen come to life. If I’m in control, it’ll work out the way I want it to. 

But, that’s not how it’s supposed to be. I can never put to words the peace that I feel when I’m just at trust in the Spirit.

When you see prayer happening, it makes it easier to trust. God IS working in your life. Trust him and put it all to prayer.

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