How often do we tell a friend that we will pray for them and then it slips our minds? Do you, like me, find yourself, in the midst of a task, when a friend comes to mind and you feel terrible that you haven’t remembered to pray for her during a time of suffering?
We’ve hit upon something that helps us remember to pray for the ones we love. As dinner winds down each evening, Russ gets the Bible from the shelf along with our prayer journal. He reads a short passage and then asks questions of the kids, then we open our journal to the page for that day of the month, pull the photos out, pass them around, and pray for our friends.
A couple of years ago I got an email from a friend in Texas who mentioned that they pray for our family on the 24th of each month. I was very touched. She mentioned a journal, so I asked her about it and she explained that they place Christmas photos in a journal with 31 pages, and each night, they pray for the friends corresponding to the date.
I thought this was brilliant, so I went out, bought a nice scrapbook, and began placing photos on pages. It took time, too much time, and the book was large and cumbersome. We never really used it. Then last summer we visited our lovely Texas friends. Following dinner, they got out the journal, and I saw that it was a simple, open top, scrapbook with photos simply dropped down into the pages. They pulled out the photos and passed them around the table talking about the friends and reminding the children what their needs were. The page for our family’s day had our Christmas pictures from the past two years, so there were multiple pictures to share.
This was much simpler than what I had attempted, so I returned from Texas and bought a smaller book with open-top pages. This year, in December, when I took our family and friends’ 2011 Christmas photos off the bulletin board, I put them into the book. Most pages have at least two families on them and I expect over time, there may be more. I grouped people together in ways that made sense to the children – Russ’ siblings and parents on two pages, mine on another, cousins, our pastors, missionaries and other friends in ministry. There is plenty of room to tuck in a note, or a Christmas letter.
Why is it so important for us to pray for our friends? The Bible tells us that we are to be “rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer.” Romans 12:12 God clearly tells us to pray. The needs in this world are great. Our friends may be suffering, they may be in need of Jesus, and although we may not even know their specific situation, our prayers are heard and the Lord, in His good kindness, answers.
It may not seem like much to pray for our friends and extended family once a month, but let’s be honest, with the exception of friends in crisis, it’s more than we were praying for them. Our children are learning about the ministry of prayer, their bonds to faraway family and friends are strengthened, and our prayer time has greater purpose.
This is such a simple way to teach our children to love God’s Word and prayer, and to create daily habits. Do we miss it sometimes? Absolutely. Every week we miss doing this at least once if not more. But tonight, we’ll pray for the people from last night too, and I’m already looking forward to seeing who it will be.
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