The apostle Paul says that we should “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). The apostle James tells us to “pray for one another” (James 5:16). Good ideas, but easier said than done. The sainted apostles didn’t have to work 8-10 hours a day, take care of family obligations, change baby’s diapers, mow the lawn and take out the trash. Yet, there it is: “Pray without ceasing.”
Of course, the Bible has a lot to say about praying, and most people of faith really want to pray, but lack a clear idea of when and how to do it.
A very simple approach to strengthening our prayer life is to use your church photo directory as a prayer tool. Using the directory one can easily develop a praying strategy for everyone in the congregation on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.
Using your church directory, you can:
1. Divide the directory into sections so that the congregation is covered from Sunday to Sunday. You don’t need to hesitate to assure the congregation that you pray for them every week. People might even appreciate knowing when you are praying for them. Dividing the directory enables you to say to the Olsons that you pray for them every Thursday, for example.
2. Place a check mark next to the name or family member on your printed copy of the directory (this also helps show how many times you rotate through your members).
3. Use your church directory app. If your church directory program offers a mobile app to view the directory on your phone or tablet, use the member app and go down the list of families and pray for a family each day or week.
4. Pray on birthdays or other special days. Use a birthday or anniversary listing from your directory and mark your calendar to pray for members on their special day. You could send birthday people a text message to not only say “Happy Birthday” but to let them know you prayed for them, asking God to bless them in the coming year.
A prayer for birthdays:
Bless N., O Lord, on her birthday. Be gracious unto her and teach her your ways. Give to her good health and a long life, until she enters into the joy of her eternal home. Amen.
A general prayer:
Bless N., O Lord, that he may be strengthened and prosper in all that he does. Give him wisdom to make good choices, courage in hard times and friends in time of need. May he be faithful in both work and worship, striving always to do your will. Teach him your ways, and guide him in paths of understanding, so that he will be blessed with love, joy and peace. Amen.
By using your church directory as a praying tool, you can fulfill the Bible’s encouragement to “pray without ceasing.”
This information is provided courtesy of Instant Church Directory, a small team of dedicated folks working hard from home to build a simple tool for connecting church members. Visit their website at www.InstantChurchDirectory.com to learn more about their online church directory solution.
TIMOTHY MERRILL is an ordained minister and has served churches in Oregon, Minnesota and Colorado. His doctoral work at Princeton Theological Seminary focused on the apocalyptic nature of the preaching of the First Crusade in 1096 A.D. His work has been published in the academic press including the Patristica and Byzantine Review and the Westminster Theological Journal. His book, Learning to Fall: A Guide for the Spiritually Clumsy (Chalice Press) appeared in 1998.