One generation will declare Your works to the next and will proclaim Your mighty acts.—Psalm 145:4
One of our responsibilities as pastors is to remind our people of the day to day faithfulness of God for all generations. I realized the other day that I’ve unwittingly embraced a habit which has kept me from doing this as effectively as I could be. I don’t write down prayer requests.
There is no deep theological reason why I haven’t written down prayer requests. I just have a decent memory and I figure it is good to use it. And so I usually just remember the things that are requested and I go around the room and echo these prayers back to the Lord as I lead the group in prayer. Seldom have I forgotten a prayer request, and so I figured this strategy worked for me.
Until a few weeks ago, that is. At our monthly leaders meeting our lead pastor did something beautiful. He had written down our prayer requests the month prior and he went back through them and asked about them. Such a simple thing—but it helped me see the hand of God in our church.
So many of these prayers I had forgotten about. I didn’t even remember us praying for them but they were weighing heavy on our heart a month ago. But a month later few of them were still prayer requests. I believe this is because God answers prayer. He acted on our behalf. And without writing down these prayer requests I would have missed seeing His hand.
As I thought about this a bit more I’ve decided to always write down prayer requests. If you are one of those tech savvy dudes you can use something like OneNote to keep a record of these. I’m not one of the cool kids so I still use pen and paper and stick little notes in my Bible. For now that’ll have to do. Here are four benefits I see to writing down prayer requests.
- It helps remind us of God’s answers to prayer. As I noted earlier so often we forget about the things that are no longer pressing. When we do little things like this we remind ourselves that God is consistently working for our good and His glory.
- It helps remind us to not give up on praying for something. Some prayer requests weren’t “answered” yet. We are seldom like the persistent widow. Usually we’ll pray a few times and then move on to something else. By writing down prayer requests and going back over them we are reminded that there are some things that we ought to still petition heaven for.
- It helps highlight folks who might need a bit of soul-care attention. Praying for someone keeps your heart attentive to their life. When someone has been on our prayer lists for a lengthy season it queues us to schedule a visit.
- It helps remind me to pray for people throughout the week. I am an out of sight, out of mind, type of guy. Keeping a lists of prayer requests in front of me will help me to remember to pray for these people—and also to follow up.
What about you? Do you write down prayer requests? What benefit have you found in doing this?