"I'll pray for you."
How often have I said this? Or been told this by someone? Yet, how often have I gone my way, forgetting about the promise?
It's never intentional, but I've discovered that the words leap from my mouth in a rote response to a friend who has just relayed a difficulty or a desire in her life. It sometimes becomes a way to end a conversation, an "amen" to our intimate and heartfelt discussion.
I am sincere in my desire but don't always follow through.
Later, as I speak to this friend again or come across her name, I am sad and discouraged to discover that my promise has gone unkept. I say a quick prayer, most often so that I can tell her, "Yes, I did pray for you."
As a wife, mother, homemaker, writer, friend, and daughternot to mention the time I spend helping with my husband's English as a Second Language ministry at churchI find that my thoughts are constantly filled with plans, projects, and things to get done.
Yet prayer is important. Jesus prayed. The disciples prayed. We are told to pray unceasingly. And keeping promises is equally important. God never made a promise that he did not keep. Prayer can be an effective ministry, a way to serve and support others.
So, how do I remember the people and things that I've promised to pray for? I've discovered three things that have helped me.
1. Write it down.
I've always kept a small notebook in my purse for jotting down quick thoughts and writing ideas. Now I keep the first pages available for promised prayers, writing them down as soon as I've made that commitment. The notebook is always with me and easily reviewed when free time comeswhether it's while waiting in a traffic jam or for a train to pass, in line at the grocery store, in a doctor's waiting room, or some other unhurried place.
2. Do it immediately.
Another way to keep my promise is to stop right then and pray with my friend. It is better not to make a promise than to make it and break it. Why make a promise for later when I can take the time at that moment and pray with my friend and comfort her in person?
My 5-year-old daughter taught me the importance of this. She is a true procrastinator when it comes to cleaning her room, finishing her dinner, or coming inside from play. But when I tell her of someone we know who is going through a difficult situation, or whenever my husband and I are feeling ill, she will say, "I need to pray about this." She'll stop right then and pray out loud, whether she's sitting in the backseat of the car or outside playing. What a powerful sight to see her come to me while I'm lying sick on the couch, pray for me, and then go back to pretending with her dolls.
3. Be alarmed.
Lastly, I take a specific time to pray for those promised prayers. I carry an electronic organizer in my purse. It has an alarm that I can set to go off every day at the same time.
By keeping my promises to pray, my prayer life becomes strongeras does my commitment to the people God brings into my life.
A Christian Reader original article. Kathryn Lay is a writer living in Arlington, Texas.
Copyright © 2003 by the author or Christianity Today/Today's Christian magazine.
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