By Dennis Wiggs
I encourage every young pastor to establish a daily, systematic Bible reading schedule. In conjunction with this, develop your prayer plan, too. You will soon discover, however, that this project will demand more self-discipline than daily Bible reading.
Determine the Method
Purchase a “prayer book”—a journal about the size of your Bible with at least 100 pages. Don’t skimp! You will use the same book for many years. On the front page, record your name, address, and date to begin the prayer book. Write as neatly as possible. (Some may need to print!)
Divide the book into several categories such as: family, church family, unsaved, missionaries, and special requests. Record the names of family members on the first few pages. Skip several lines between each name to provide space to record future additions by birth and marriage.
List the names of your church members in alphabetical order. In the church family section, record the names from A to Z, last name first. Skip three lines between the lines to add additional names of those who become part of your church family. Divide this list equally between days of the week and pray through your church family each week.
Develop a section for the unsaved. Set aside several pages. Record the names of those for whom you are praying. When that person is converted, put a check beside the name and write the date of the decision. For the active, burdened pastor, this list will probably grow faster than all the others put together.
Set aside a section for missionaries. At the top of each page, write the name of a state or country, followed by the names of the missionaries serving in that field. Skip three pages between states or countries.
Designate a section for special prayer requests that apply to your pastorate, community, denomination, etc. You may want to add other categories as needed.
Use the Prayer Book
After daily Bible reading, open your prayer book. Pray for your immediate family by name and need. Pray for members of your congregation by name and day. Record new prayer requests by each name. Write the date and how the Lord answers the request.
As new members are added to the church, record those names in the alphabetical listing. Then, pray for the missionaries. You may want to Pray for the missionaries in Brazil on Monday, those in India and France on Tuesday, those in Cote d’Ivoire on Wednesday, etc. As the years pass, your list will include deletions and additions. Place a mark by the names of missionaries who leave the field, but don’t stop praying for them. Sometimes the transition is the most difficult challenge missionaries face. Add new appointees.
Next, pray for the unsaved. This is a page of great excitement When they trust Christ as Savior, record the date of their conversion with a big check by their names.
The pages of special requests will be marked more than any other page. As church projects are completed, personal needs are met, and goals are accomplished, record how the Lord met each need.
Value of Prayer Book
As prayers are answered, names added or deleted, and dates recorded, your prayer book will reveal how the Lord has worked. This Personal record of your daily prayer time will become even more personal as the years pass. Following this plan assures that you pray for everyone you ought to pray for.
Calling upon the Lord on behalf of others by name and need intensifies your burden and concern. Recording answered prayer reminds you of the Lord’s fulfilled promises. Those you pray for are encouraged to know that your prayer time includes them by name. If you change churches, develop a new book. l do. Why some computer software programs are available for creating a prayer list, I have discovered that a prayer book in your own handwriting becomes a personal and fulfilling means of obeying Paul’s admonition to young Timothy: “l exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men.”
About the Writer: Dennis Wiggs retired in 2004 after many years in ministry.
Adapted from Contact magazine, September 1997.