How to Follow Through When You Say You'll Pray

Have you ever promised to pray for someone--and then completely forgotten about it? I have. I'm not only frustrated by my failure to pray, I'm embarrassed--especially when I run into my friend later.

The truth is, we need each other's prayers. Yet most of us juggle multiple responsibilities. From the moment we wake up until we drop into bed at day's end, we're busy. So, how do we make good on the promise to pray for someone? Here are some strategies I've developed to help me back up my words with action.

  • Write it down. If you don't have a prayer list, make one. Then place it where you'll see it regularly--like inside your Bible, next to your bed, or, if necessary, tape it to your bathroom mirror.
  • Ask God to remind you. He will. Expect to be reminded while you're busy doing something else. Determine to pray on the spot for your friend, just as soon as you receive the prompting. If you must, excuse yourself to the restroom for a few minutes.
  • Schedule it in your planner/Blackberry/Daytimer. As in: Monday, 9:30 - pray for Angela.
  • Stay in touch with your friend. E-mail her or drop her a pretty note card reminding her that you're praying. Ask how things are going so you can pray specifically. This not only encourages your friend, it keeps you accountable while you pray her through.
  • Remember, it's okay to pray for someone for a limited time. You can tell your friend, "I'll pray for you this week." I regularly modify my prayer list, crossing off one person and adding another as God leads and situations change. This way I don't have an unrealistic, never-ending prayer list.
  • If you don't feel like you can manage to pray regularly for her right now, don't make the offer. You can always pray with her just once on the phone, over lunch, or whenever else you get together. Better one sincere prayer together than a promise you probably won't keep.
The prayers of a righteous man are powerful and effective (see James 5:16), but only if we actually pray them. With these simple strategies and God's help, we can follow through on our prayer commitments.

And we'll have the blessing of knowing we're partnering with God in other's lives.


Spring M Fricks said...

Wow, I love this!! In fact, this has been a topic I've been talking to God about lately. I'm sort of known for praying, so I get a lot of requests. And yet, because I do revere prayer, I refust to be the "well, I'll prayer for you" walk off and forget kind of person but you can get bogged down. This was awesome and timely. Thanks friend.

Kelly said...

Great topic! I often wonder when I tell someone I'll pray for them, how much is "enough." Can I just pray once? Must it be an ongoing thing? I often pray immediately after saying it, so I won't be able to forget.

Great great issue & solutions here, Julie! I'm thinking this one should be submitted to a Christian publication. We could all use it!

Susie said...

So good Julie. I often pray with the person on the spot, but I like to write it down in my bible study workbooks or I will often forget too. Great tips! Thanks!

Andrea said...

Great post:

I carry a small notebook in my purse so I can write them down and this method also enables me to pull it out and read them.

Blessings, andrea

Gaia said...

Yup yup yup, ashamed to say I am guilty of forgetting. Even birthdays mind you. Thanks Julie for this reminder, I've been jotting down things I need to do, guess I will include prayers. Bless You.

KelliGirl said...

It's so easy to toss out a well-meaning, but soon-forgotten, "I'll pray for you." This is an area I've been trying to be much more deliberate about. Your tips help provide concrete ways to remember and to stay accountable.

I'm with Chatty Kelly, though, how much prayer is "enough?"

Blessings, my friend,

Deb said...

Guilty too.

Like,I have good intentions.

And I really take prayer requests seriously.

But then life happens, and sometimes I forget.

So, I started a prayer journal.

It helps.

I love your suggestion about scheduling time to pray for specific people and their needs.

Well, actually, all of your ideas are user friendly.

Thanks for taking the time to share them with us.

Sweet dreams.

Melissa, Multi-Tasking Mama said...

I love that- especially writing it in my planner! That is one way I assure things get done =)

Sista In Arms Lxx said...

I too am guilty, thank you for your advice and so timely, the sermon at church yesterday "Prayer", don't you just love how God speaks to us about an issue in multiple ways!

Jody Hedlund said...

I'm sure I've been guilty of offering to pray and then not following up! I love your suggestions! Often what I've gotten into the habit of doing is just praying right away when I hear of a problem. For other bigger issues, I write them in my prayer notebook and usually on Sunday mornings I pray through my prayer notebook.

Anne Lang Bundy said...

The thing I hate to admit is that even though I practice most of these hints, I'm STILL guilty of this on occasion! I need to do all of these more consistently.

EXCELLENT post. Thanks, Julie.

Karen said...

Ah, Julie. Prayer is so underrated and underused. If we could only see the difference ours prayers make all the time. You give good suggestions to encourage a growing prayer life. Thanks!

Cheryl Barker said...

Good tips, Julie. I have learned to be careful not to offer to pray if I don't think I can follow through. I like your tip about asking God to remind us to pray. I need to remember to do that more often.

Have a great week!

Rachel Beran said...

These are great tips, Julie! I am careful to say what I mean...and mean what I say (most of the time). I don't like it when someone tells me that they will pray for me, but I know that they won't or that they didn't. So, am careful to only say it if I mean it. When I hear a prayer request (esp in blog world, Facebook, etc) I say a prayer right away. Then, tell them that I just prayed for them. If I say I'm going to pray for you, I want to mean it...and do it. But, you're right, it's still hard in this busy, busy world we all live in. :) I needed to read your tips today. I will keep themin mind and apply them! Your blog posts are always so meaniningful and helpful for REAL life. Thank you.

Sue J. said...

We were talking in our Sunday School class this past week about this. One woman brought up an example that a pastor had given. He said, "I never pray for more than 5 minutes. But I never go more than 5 minutes without praying." I thought that was excellent.

The thing is, God works, whether we pray or not. He works if we pray multiple times a day or once a week. When we say we'll pray, we are saying that we care and that we believe in God and in His handling a person's concern. When we actually pray, we show our faithfulness to the One who is able to do anything.

I think we still make a big deal out of being so formal when it comes to prayer. We get locked in to prayer times, prayer closets, etc., that we forget that we can pray (dialogue with God) at anytime and anywhere. Do we need to approach the throne with reverence and awe? Absolutely, but that doesn't mean we can't do it over dishes.

I think asking God to remind us about the people in our lives is wonderful. And, when we don't ask God and forget, we must not beat ourselves up over that. Satan plays a nasty game of making us feel guilty over not praying.

Cazandra Campos-MacDonald said...

I try to be so careful about this. I always want to be sure and follow through. Something that has helped me is writing prayer requests on my bathroom mirror with an Expo marker. This way, while getting ready for my day, I life folks up in prayer.


Andrea said...

Great list! I have to use a list or otherwise I would "never" remember all the needs of others.

Blessings, andrea

PS: Thank you for your sweet comments on arise 2 write and most especially for your prayers. My health has been challenging lately.

Leslie said...

Thank you for visiting my blog today! I find that God does remind me to pray for people. I'll find myself going through my day and all of a sudden someone will pop into my thoughts. I usually stop right then, if possible, to say a prayer for them.

Nice to meet you Julie!

Blessings, Leslie

Bonnie Way aka the Koala Mom said...

Great suggestions. I used to keep a prayer journal, and it was a great encouragement to keep praying and to look back and see what prayers God had answered. I should start that again!

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