The Simple List That Changed My Life {And a Give-Away!}

One of the most crucial aspects of our prayer lives is focus. If we can maintain our focus, we will be able to ask and keep asking, to knock and keep knocking (see Matthew 7:7), and God will hear us. He will move, and we will reap the results of focused, persevering prayer.


But if you’re anything like me, you multitask during the day, juggle many responsibilities, and have a lot on your mind. The weeks zip by, and it’s not always easy to maintain our focus for the next 15 minutes, let alone maintain a prayer focus.

So I’d like to talk about maintaining a strong prayer focus for one year. If that sounds overwhelming to you, it is actually the opposite.  It’s a relief to have a simple list prepared and in the place where I always see it. It’s a gentle reminder that helps me remember the things God impressed on my heart, and it helps me to pray without ceasing.

And trust me, a year of concentrated, specific prayer yields powerful results.
In fact, I am convinced that my annual prayer lists have drastically altered my heart, my life, my marriage, and my children.

So, are you ready to create your annual prayer list?

Before you get too impressed, I keep it simple. I use either a 4x6 index card or similar size sheet of paper. I take some time to prayerfully consider where I am in life, where I’d like to be, and I reflect on the various situations unfolding. I ponder the dreams in my heart, and ask God to bring to the forefront His desires and plans for me, and to shape my plans according to His will.

I also think about family members, and if anything is weighing heavily on my heart, I’ll consider placing that on my annual prayer list. Let me give you an example. I began to notice that it’s still entirely too easy for me to fall into negative, critical thinking. So this year, I added “Freedom from negative/critical thinking: Positive and encouraging thoughts and words.” (It’s #1 on my list.) I’m trying to capture and stop those negative or critical thoughts as they’re forming, and asking the Lord to help me be more positive and encouraging with my words. And I’m already seeing results!

Essentially, any area of our lives or relationships where we long to experience change is perfect for our prayer list. I try to keep my list to no more than 8-10 items so I don’t feel overwhelmed when I pull it out. You can make yours shorter or longer, depending on your personality, your season of life, and the amount of time you’re willing to invest.

My prayer list is tucked inside my Bible. But the idea is to keep it where you’ll see it, so feel free to place your list on your nightstand or next to the kitchen sink, or tape it to the bathroom mirror or the dashboard of your car, or wherever best suits you.

Once established, our lists will help us to maintain our prayer focus all year.  This is “praying without ceasing” (see 1 Thessalonians 5:17), and it’s powerful.  When we partner with God by faithfully do our parts, we will reap the life-changing benefits of focused, unceasing prayer.  And we’ll see how a simple list can change our lives. 

I happen to believe that praying for ourselves is essential, so I always add MY needs to my prayer list and I encourage you to do the same. Need some help knowing what to pray about for yourself? I'm giving away a signed copy of my new book, "Prayers For a Woman's Soul". Just leave me a comment sharing your thoughts the first thing you'd put on your prayer list, and I will choose a random winner. 

Give-away open only to residents of the U.S. If you're reading this in an email, you can leave a comment and enter the give-away by CLICKING HERE.



42 comments:

Julie Jarnagin said...

What a great idea! I need the extra focus.

Tammy said...

My prayer life has been lacking...sad to say. In a few weeks, our daughter is getting married, so my life is about to start a whole 'new' chapter. I need direction in my marriage and ministry...yep, that needs to be at the top!

~Tammy

A Journey For Life said...

For my hubby to become the christian leader of our home.

kim said...

I would pray for God to restore my health.

Ginny said...

I already do something like that, as i journal. But, praying for myself is one thing I rarely do. I think this is a good idea and the first thing I would pray about it to release myself from negativity and discouragement in the face of trials. Thank you Julie for blessing me.

Anonymous said...

Oh Julie......mine is also to do away with negative/critical talk/thoughts and to replace them with Gods truths and to share HOPE throught my home based business of Premier Designs.

Helen Tisdale said...

Julie, I am obsessed with lists! Love them! Your thoughts today just breathed fresh air on the thought of my prayer life & my desire for it to be effectual!

Kela Nellums said...

First on my list is to be diligent and immediate obedience.

Anonymous said...

Hi Julie,

In March of 2010 the Lord called me to pray daily at 3 p.m. and I can testify my relationship with our Heavenly Father has changed drastically. I have experienced what I call the 3 D's. At first it required DISCIPLINE on my part--that was hard. Later I found myself DESIRING to praise and worship God. And now--after 3 years--I DELIGHT being in His wonderful presence and have started a 3 O'clock Prayer Ministries website to share what God has shown me. I too have used 4 by 6 color coded cards for prayer request given to me and I really believe we should prayer for ourselves. I think it is important to "step in" with God before "stepping out" to minister to others.
Thanks and God Bless.
Lori Robbins
www.3oclockprayer.com

carolinatrails said...

Wonderful idea... first thing on the list, for my desires and dreams to line up with God's plan for me.

Dawn Hurst-Stultz said...

My #1 is for peace & healing in my family. I'm the oldest of 6, and live w/ my dad (he's 80) and my bi-polar bro., as well as my youngest two daughters and my husb., and my brother's dog.... Ma went to heaven 19 yrs. ago and being the matriarch ain't an easy job....

Paige Ward said...

The first thing of my list would be direction of where we are supposed to move to.

Carrie said...

The first one I would put on my list is a close friend who is running from God.

Anonymous said...

Praying for myself for guidance and direction.

Cammi Waggoner

Lizzy said...

for my daughter to know Christ and for me to give her grace and love in the hard place we are in waiting

Colleen said...

I always pray for my family, and for friends with specific prayer needs and requests. But my new prayer is to pray for peace. Every day. I know I probably won't change the world, but I am hoping to help contribute to a more positive, uplifting life for everyone. The abhorrent violence and mistreatment of God's people saddens my heart, and it is so far out of anything I can control. All I can do is pray.

Patricia M said...

I would love to make a list and put on the top to gain more wisdom in my life thru prayer.

Tina B said...

What a great way to get into the habit of a new prayer life. I love lists too. :) My first prayer would be for me to learn how to be a better mother to my growing kids as they face new obstacles and challenges. I am blessed with three beautiful children and am trying to do my best raising them in a Christian home. I pray that God will lead me and give me wisdom as we grow together.

Janet Watkins said...

Thanks for this idea and an opportunity to win your book. I struggle with finding focus but I try to pray for my co-workers while driving to work in the am.

Janet

Janet Watkins said...

Thank you for the idea of the visual reminder. I struggle to find focus. Right now it seems to be praying for my co-workers on the drive to work.

Anonymous said...

Great idea! This will keep me focus. Thank you. First on my list is a job with benefits. I quite my job almost 2 years go. Maybe the list will help me to pray specifically what I need to do that day. To stay focused.

Anonymous said...

My prayer is for daughter, single Mom, in job, finances, location, health, and her son in college plans.
Thanks for the great post!
JS

Janice said...

TRUST was the first thing that came to mm mind for my prayer list. I need to trust in my Lord more with all the problems surrounding me. I must know that my God shall supply all my needs.

Tammy said...

I do need prayer; but never seem to get around to actually praying for myself. I do need prayer for financial help and to be stronger in my faith. My daughter is going through a rough time and I know God will turn her around; but in the back of my mind I am always wondering "when". Thank you for reminding that it is ok to pray for myself. God Bless!

Anonymous said...

Janet:
Prayer for myself for discipline as I've committed to lead a CBS group for Bible Study in the Fall.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed your post. I am in a very busy time in my life - getting ready to move across the country at the age of 60+. I know that prayer is vital and I do need to remember to pray for myself - thanks for the reminder.

Colleen

Deb H. said...

I'm afraid that my list would be very LONG.... that is how badly I need to change ME!! I am thinking that the first thing on my long list would be to pray to not be so judgmental! (it seems that i tend do "judge" everything and everyone) I really DISLIKE that and feel like that may be a good start for my list. Thanks for your great article!!

Shellie said...

The first thing I would put on my list is that God gives me the courage to better share my faith with my family and for my entire family to be more open and willing to listen to God speaking to them. I want God to speak his words not mine to anyone he wants to reach through me.

Anonymous said...

Trust would have to top my list as I'm going thru a health "crisis" right now. Praying regularly for unsaved family/friends would also be on there. Hard to limit to just 10 things. Love to read your book!

Sharon Gulley said...

I try to adore the Lord, first and foremost. He is worthy of worship and not just for requests! My family is after that. Children and grandchildren that need the Lord in their lives.

Kim B said...

Praise the Lord, I want to do this! Top on my list is prayer that my boys will want to be saved and baptized, they are 15 and 24. I would love to read your book and your post was wonderful Thank you!

Jill said...

I loved this post. Thank You!

Hester Christensen said...

Julie,

I agree - being intentional has helped me so much to not forget to pray for people. It's too easy to say we will only to realize later we forgot. I know for me I've got to write it down. ;)

Thanks, Hester ;)

Anonymous said...

The first thing on my list would have to be for reconciliation between my husband and myself. We are coming up on a 6 yr separation in a matter of days. God has carried me a long way and I want His will in this matter. I realize reconciliation may not be the way of it, but I'm trusting my God for the outcome no matter what that looks like. Please remember me in prayer. Thank you for your ministry. God bless you!

NAS said...

Thanks for such practical ideas. I have two things that would be at the top of my list. First would be for my husband to find a job after having been laid off at the start of the year. The second would be for the two of us to improve our communication.

Sandy said...

What a fantastic idea. Had not really thought about so sincerely keeping myself prayed for so that I can see those changes God is making in my life. Thanks so much. Sandy

Joy R. said...

What a great idea! The first thing on my list would be for my husband's healing. He has several major issues that he is dealing with.

Patti P. said...

Thank you for the great suggestion! The first thing on my list would be for help dealing with negative thoughts so I can better accept my present situation and make lemonade out of lemons!

Lara said...

Julie,
What a lovely idea! I look forward to your posts - they always seem like they are speaking directly to me! I am going to get started on my prayer list today! Thanks for your wonderful advice!
Love & prayers,
Lara

Anonymous said...

I've been praying about what I've been calling "Our Big Family Problem". It's a complicated breakdown in communcation that isn't fixed yet.

I pray that the person who needs your giveaway book the most would win it !
God bless you for ministering to needy women everywhere !!!

Elaine said...

#1 - intentional focus and accomplishment; I feel like I drift through days.
Thanks for sharing this Julie, prayer can seem an overwhelming responsibility that weighs rather than a joy.

mabi0102 said...

Very awesome book ideal.i especially need any advice I can take and absorb for saying prayers and to put them on paper for reminders to pray,

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