Do you find your prayers easily become self-centered? It’s easy pray for me, mine, and those I’m involved with. Yet I want my prayers to be effective, not just for me, for God’s kingdom as well.
I also find my mind can wander from prayer to thoughts of what needs to be done today or the struggles I faced yesterday. When I do realize my mind has been wandering during my prayer time, I sometimes wonder how long God has been waiting for me to get back to Him.
For me, learning to pray has been an on-going process–still in progress. To help me pray beyond my own realm, and to keep my mind from wandering, I’ve learned to think in terms of concentric circles while I pray. Perhaps it will help you also.
I begin with those closest to me, then move out from there. This easily can be seen in the following:
Family – It’s simple to see the needs and answers regarding my own family members and relatives. I pray for each of these first, trying to be as specific as possible in my requests. I know that asking God to bless them is a legitimate prayer, yet it’s difficult to have faith for something so general. It’s also hard to know when God answers such a prayer. By being specific, asking God to supply a need or to bring changes in a certain situation, I can lay hold of the need with faith. Then I can thank God for His work and pray for further work in that loved-one’s life.
Church – I pray for our pastor and church leadership, then its various departments, including my own denomination and other Christian groups as well. I find that when I’m praying for those in leadership, I’m less inclined to criticize and more inclined to get involved myself.
School – I was long involved in the Christian school movement and more recently in home schools. I pray for those who educate various age groups, from pre-school through college, and those in public, private and home schooling circles. I pray for teachers and students I know personally, as well as those in administrative roles.
Work – Perhaps there’s no area of greater need than where we spend the major portion of our waking hours, our jobs. I pray for family members on their jobs as well as those in other areas of commerce.
Government – I find it easy to complain about our society, often blaming the government for life’s problems. Instead I know I need to honor those in authority and pray for God to work in the lives of government workers at all levels whether they serve in administrative, legislative, or judicial branch of government at the local, county, state and federal level. Those who work in offices behind the scenes are just as needful of my prayers as elected officials.
Entertainment – One of my sons works in the film and television industry. This has made me especially mindful of the need to pray for people such as entertainers, artists and news personnel, and those working behind the scenes. I know that God can effect this influential area of life if His people ask Him to.
The Lost – When I see a news report that touches my emotions, I try to pray for those involved–the victim, the perpetrator, the families of each. When I encounter needy people while I’m shopping, I may not be able to physically or financially help, but I can pray for God to send someone who can help them in the name of the Lord. And I can pray for God to make Himself real to them, asking Him to place Christians in their paths to share His message of salvation.
These seven categories of life–the home, the church, education, the work-a-day world, government, the media, and the lost–are all areas God Himself is concerned about.
You may find it hard to cover each of these areas every day in your prayers. You might want to focus on a different one each day of the week.
Using a notebook is another way to stay focused. When the date and specific prayer is recorded, the date of the answer can be noted as well. What a blessed way to increase our faith in our prayer-answering God.
© Beverly Caruso