For years, my prayers were scattered. I'd start with the crisis of the day, then mentally spin off to groceries I needed or calls I had to make. Then I'd nod off for a short nap, and wake with the resolution to "pray harder" next time.
That all changed the day I leafed through a stack of family photographs and found myself praying for each person pictured. As I looked at my children's smiling, hope-filled faces, asking God to bless and protect them felt effortless. I prayed he'd put their dreams within reach, strengthen their relationships to him, and keep their hearts and actions pure.
This time I couldn't stop praying.
The next day I grabbed the photos and designed a system to motivate me in prayer.
I bought a small scrapbook and pasted a photo of a specific person on each left-hand page. On the corresponding right-hand page, I wrote broad prayer request categories of how I wanted to pray for that person.
I designated the first spread for me. So next to my smiling portrait, I listed all the ways I want God to work in and through meto help me obey his nudges, be the best wife possible, maintain healthy relationships with my children, and spread Jesus' love. Then I listed themes: health issues, church involvement, work goals, financial integrity, and other big-ticket items.
I placed my husband's photo on the next spread. As I looked at him, I was easily able to focus and pray down my list: for his passion for God, for his mentoring of our children, for his wisdom and discernment at work, for his continued spiritual growth.1