The post for today is the next installment in the Lord Teach Us To Pray series. Today’s post comes from Kimberlee Conway Ireton. Kimberlee is the author of The Circle of Seasons: Meeting God in the Church Year. Even though she’s completely unqualified, she blogs three times a week about great writing, great kids, and great faith.
I stand at the kitchen sink, washing kale for salad. Out the window, I can see my son shooting arrows across the backyard. He looses ten or twelve and then scampers out of sight to find them.
I dump the dirty water down the sink drain, and my vision shifts from beyond the window to the window itself. Little rectangles of paper line the window casing.
Each rectangle has a name on it. My eyes fall on the one that says, “PNC,” and I breathe a prayer for our church’s Pastor Nominating Committee. I pray that God would guide them, give them wisdom and discernment.
I shake out the wet kale leaves and pray for stamina and patience for the committee members.
As I slice the ribs off the kale, tear the leaves into small pieces, and toss them in our wooden salad bowl, I pray for agreement among these eight people who are looking for our next senior pastor.
Until recently, I struggled to actually pray for the people to whom I had pledged my prayers. It’s not that I didn’t want to pray for them, not that I wasn’t praying for other things (uh, mostly myself). All too often, I would just forget.
Then, almost two years ago, I started a prayer window. I’m not sure what inspired me to do this (though I suspect the Holy Spirit had something to do with it). On a quarter of an index card, I wrote down the names of the people I wanted to pray for and taped the little rectangles to my kitchen window.
Since I spend a fair amount of time at my kitchen sink, I see these names many, many times a day. And when I see them, I pray.
I have posted names of people seeking work, of people fighting illness, of couples whose marriages are failing, of writers seeking book contracts. Most of these people I know. Some, though, I do not. They are friends of friends, acquaintances from church and my online communities, or even strangers I’ve read about whose plight has tugged at my heart.
The scripture window has helped me remember to pray for those I have said I would pray for. It has inspired me to pray for others more than at any other time in my life.
Outside the window, my son is back at his arrow-loosing spot, and I am distracted watching him shoot off another round. By the time he is done, I am finished with the kale. As I turn toward the stove to saute the chicken, another rectangle on the window catches my eye. I breathe a prayer for a friend who is caring for her ailing mother. This reminds me of two other friends who are caring for their mothers.
As I melt butter into a pan and watch the chicken sizzle and brown, I pray for these friends, too, breathing the words of the Jesus Prayer on their behalf, adding my own hopes and desires, and bringing it all to God.
Make Your Own Prayer Window.
1. Choose the window.
Actually, it doesn’t have to be a window. It could be a designated space on your cubicle wall at work, or a post-it stuck to the dashboard of your car, or a note on your front door. The only criterion is that it be a place you will see often.
2. Write the cards.
Once you’ve chosen the window, write down the names of the people or situations for which you want to pray. Start small, with the names of just one or two people or situations. As you find yourself praying over these names, you can add others that God places on your heart and mind.
3. Whenever you see the cards, pray.
If you struggle to find words to pray, try the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on (fill in the name).” Often, once I get started by voicing (or thinking) the Jesus Prayer a time or two, I find I have my own requests concerning the person for whom I’m praying that I want to bring before God.
A prayer window is great, but it only prompts you to pray. You have to do the actual praying. So: Remember to see the cards. Remember to pray when you do.