In his wonderful book, "A Praying Life," Paul Miller talks at length about the benefits of using a tool like prayer cards to help heal the spiritual wound that keeps us from wanting to pray. Miller discusses the way prayer cards not only keep him focused and help give him a blueprint for habitual prayer, but they also serve as a visual reminder of the many prayers God has answered. A deck of well-worn prayer cards is a record that give us a zoomed out story of how God is working in our lives, the lives of those we pray for, and our world.
1. Write who/what you want to pray for on the front
Here's how a typical deck might look:
*My "What must you be like?" card comes from a form of creative adoration and prayer mentioned by one of my pastors at Redeemer Fellowship, Kevin Cawley, in a prayer seminar. He encourages us to ask this question constantly. I look at my world, my surroundings, etc. and I use that as a way to adore God. For instance, if I find myself praying in the midst of my morning walk, I might see a particularly beautiful flower or a shaft of light coming through the trees, and I ask, "What must you be like, God, that you created light itself? And you made the world so we could see shafts of light coming through the trees. This is for your enjoyment, and you made us so that we would see this and be made more whole by being pointed to you. Oh, God, what must you be like that you have dominion over the light?" Something like that.
2. Write specific things to pray for that person, issue, or group on the back
Your deck should not stop with just writing what you want to pray for on the front. Why?
Because we will still have days where we have no idea what to pray.
We are still human, and having a beautiful deck of prayer cards isn't going to magically fix the disconnect we feel with praying. It is also not going to take away the awkwardness or difficulty we feel. There will be days you don't want to reach for the deck. There will be days you get the cards in your hands and see someone's name and your mind will go blank. There are days you'll flip to someone's card who you are very angry with. If you flip that card over and it is blank, there is nothing to help put your anger in perspective. If you flip that card over and see your true heart for that person, it can help.
Because writing on our cards gives us a visual record of answered prayer and God's movement in our lives and the lives of those for whom we pray.
Paul Miller spends a lot of time talking about our barriers to prayer in "A Praying Life," and one of them is cynicism. We often have a tendency, when good things happen in our lives, to assume they would have happened anyway. Many of us also think that if God is all-powerful and sovereign, what difference does it make if we talk to him? He's going to do it anyway. Or, we don't pray for things simply because we believe they aren't possible, and when something seemingly impossible or good happens, we attribute it to chance.