Friendship with Jesus: Prayer Time Tools

Billie Jo YoumansBy Billie Jo Youmans7 Minutes

More Than Good Intentions

Prayer is something most people want to do more, but practical steps toward the goal seem difficult to nail down. Not anymore! In earlier Friendship with Jesus articles, we explored how to establish your friendship with Jesus and what prayer involves. In this piece, we will explore simple tools you can personalize that will:

  • Help you focus and feel productive in your prayers,
  • Bring clarity to your burdens,
  • Improve your ‘hearing’ of God’s answers,
  • Develop your perseverance when God is silent, and
  • Record how God is working in your life.

The key to each of these tools is that they provide a tangible track for your thoughts that will enrich your spiritual life. Some will want to keep a record from their time with God and others will not. But all are changed by engaging in deeper dialog and more intimate friendship with Jesus!

Scripture Prompts

Online lists of “Prayers for…” (i.e., your spouse, your children, the unsaved, prodigals, churches, leaders) abound on the internet. Ideally such lists include specific Scriptures to pray for the common needs of the focus group. When utilizing this kind of list, open your Bible and read the passage in context to have a full understanding of how God’s Word applies to those you lift in prayer.

Another powerful use of Scripture prompts is choosing a topic, such as the Names of God or Godly Character. Each day, you can read the Scripture and begin praying for deeper understanding for yourself and others. For example, what might it mean to a loved one facing cancer to know God as the Burden Bearer (Isaiah 53:5-6)?

Of course, devotionals can’t be overlooked as a source of prompting from Scripture. Many devotionals include thought prompts and a place to journal.

Picture Journals

A picture really can be worth a thousand words, and using photos as prayer prompts cuts to the heart very quickly. Incorporate a note page next to the picture to record needs, promises prayed, requests made, and answers received!

Or perhaps you will want to sketch out what God is speaking into your heart. You don’t need to be an artist to do that. Maybe an example will help here – years ago when my heart was deeply burdened for some youngsters, God gave me a vision of clay vessels being shaped. I ‘heard’ Him telling me that their troubles were increasing their capacity and shaping their lives for the plans He had for them. Sketching out the ‘vases’ and looking up verses that related encouraged me immensely.

Symbolic Reminders

Bracelets, rings, keychains, and even trinkets effectively serve as prayer reminders. A crafty friend created a prayer bracelet by selecting unique beads for the individuals she wanted to pray for on a regular basis. Or how about including a trinket treasure from a loved on your desk as a prayer reminder. Sometimes, the pain is so deep that you need a strong reminder of God’s presence – clinging crosses (the smooth bentwood ones that fill the palm of your hand) are wonderful in those situations. Truly, any symbol that you intentionally choose as a reminder will work.

Prayer Structures

There’s no magic to the structure, it is simply a guide to focus your mind and cover the areas of concern. Switch up using different structures to keep your prayer time fresh. Several years ago, the National Day of Prayer Task Force employed a 7-day structure that included: Government, Education, Families, Churches, Military, Businesses, and Media.

A couple other structure options include:

P.R.A.Y. which stands for Praise, Repent, Ask, Yield follows the basic format of prayer taught by Jesus in Matthew 6.

B.L.E.S.S. categorizes your prayer requests. Body, Life, Emotions, Spirit, Soul.

Prayer lists quickly become unwieldly. There are so many needs in our world. Find a system that helps you be intentional with your prayers and allows you to record God’s response to your requests.

Scripture Studies

Are you wondering why Scripture Study should be in your prayer notebook? The Word is God’s primary way of speaking to us. We need to listen even as we speak! Take time to record your feelings – and even your doubts or questions – about Scriptures. No one has God all figured out – He’s far greater than our minds can comprehend, but He wants to reveal Himself. Jotting notes creates a springboard for searching out word meanings, other passages, and related concepts.

This tool also works well for goal setting and future-casting. Spend some time looking ahead and contemplating the things you will face in the next decade. Ask yourself, “What will I need to know about God to successfully navigate those changes?” Choose three to five topics and create a divided notebook. Gather Scriptures that address those concerns in your daily time with God.

Conversational Letters

When you write out the cries of your heart, you often see your own situation differently. It is also a powerful tool for revealing circuitous thinking and problem areas. God already knows the burdens you carry – putting them on paper helps you hand them over to Him. Don’t forget relationships include talking and listening, so take time to hear what God says about your problems. Find promises and encouragement from Scripture, and listen to the Holy Spirit. You may even want to write what you ‘hear’ from God as a letter from Him!

What Tool Will You Use?

Your friendship with Jesus will not look like someone else’s friendship with Him. The joys you share will be yours alone. And the activities you engage in with Jesus will change. Try different tools, and just enjoy Jesus!