Prayer Cards: A Simple Tool That Works By Kari Patterson
Yesterday as she opened her Bible, a stack of colored index cards slipped out onto the floor. I had to smile. I knew exactly what they were and why she likely kept them with her all the time.
Because I do too!
I’ve been a Christian for almost 30 years, but I just started really praying two months ago. I’m not trying to be dramatic, but the change in my prayer life has been just that–dramatic.
Because of what? Prayer Cards.
Now, I’ve often used assorted types of prayer cards in the past but these specifically have so powerfully transformed my times in prayer. I’d love to share them with you!
They come from Paul Miller’s book A Praying Life, If you have not yet read this book, please click over immediately to Amazon and purchase a copy. Now.
He leads a journey into becoming childlike and honest in our prayers, identifying real needs and strategically praying in specific ways over those things. He helps us learn to pray God’s Word over each situation and continue persevering in asking, seeking, knocking over and over and over. For me, the journey was learning to pray with greater…
When I first heard of these prayer cards I admit I felt a slight, “Been there, done that,” cynicism flitting through my mind. But my dear friend Elisha was so enthusiastic about them I finally cheated and skipped to the back of the book to see what the hype was all about.
I was hooked. I spent the weekend making my own, and dove in to praying through them each day. Almost immediately I started seeing results! It was crazy!
That first week I gushed through all the ways I’d seen God answer the specific, Scripture-based prayers from the week before.
A part of me wondered if the novelty would wear off, but I’m 2-months in and still loving this helpful tool. Of course, it’s just a tool. God is what’s powerful, not the cards. But they are, in my opinion, an insanely helpful tool. Paul Miller has been using his for decades and still finds them immensely helpful in his own personal prayer life.
So what are they? Just a way to identify the people and needs around you that God has called you specifically to strategically pray for: Miller gives a sample deck in his book (p.232). They are roughly broken into Repentance, Family & Friends, Specific Needs, Ministry, Work, Co-Workers, Other Relationships, Dreams, etc.
Mine look like this (I put them on a metal ring so I can flip through):
- Repentance cards (2-3): These are things I need to regularly confess to God and ask for His help in overcoming my tendency to sin in this area. My current two are titled “Unbelief” and “Pride”–they include specific ways I tend toward these sins, and specific scriptures on each to pray through each morning.
- Immediate Family (3): One each for Jeff, Heidi, and Dutch, with specific verses, characteristics, and/or issues to pray for each one, each day. (I’ve seen huge answers to prayer on these ones! Miller says “I do my best parenting through prayer.”)
- Extended family cards (2): I have one for my “Zyp-side” family members and one for my “Patterson-side” family members, with a word or two, or a verse.
- Close friends (1): I have a few close friends listed here, with specific (ongoing) needs, and notes jotted down when answers come or other needs arise.
- Healing (1): Here I have the names of people I am specifically and faithfully praying for physical healing every day, along with verses (Acts 3:16, Ex. 15:26, Matt 8:16, and others) regarding healing.
- Salvation (1): I now see how healing and “salvation” are partly one and the same, but this card refers to those who do not yet follow Jesus as their Savior and King. Romans 10:9 is written across the top to pray for each of these people.
- Bible Study (1): Here I pray for the 21 ladies who are currently involved in Women’s Bible Study. I don’t pray for each of them every day by name, but I look over the list each day, pray over them in general, and usually pick a few to pray for individually.
- Retreats (1): Here I pray specific scriptures over all my speaking events, asking God for boldness and humility, and praying for life change, repentance, salvation, freedom, faith, and joy.
- Renew (1): Here I pray specific, scriptural verses over Renew, for the elders, for increased influence for the gospel, for unity and love, and jot down specific things that come to mind and ways I believe God wants me to pray. This is a fun card!
- Renew fam (1): I know that if we get bigger I won’t be able to list everyone on one card! But for now I can. I listed all the last-names of the families of Renew all on a card. Again, I don’t pray for each one every day, but I’ll pick several each day.
- Missionaries (1): Here I list the 5 main ministries we support and pray for each one.
- Sacred Mundane (1): Here I pray specific things for this ministry, this blog, my book project, etc.
- Personal (1): Finally, I dream. 🙂 I pray for specific dreams I think God has placed in my heart, and for any personal things I desire to see God do, according to His will.
And of course prayer is not simply reading over these cards each day.
These cards are a diving board, a place to begin and then leap into a conversation with the Father and pour out my heart, listen to His Spirit, and pray as He leads.
The cards keep me on track, and remind of what I already know to pray for, according to His Word, so my prayer time doesn’t end up being an exercise in mind-wandering and mental grocery-list making.
Of course I’m still a beginner in prayer, but the change has been dramatic in my prayer life. I’m enjoying prayer, looking forward to it, feeling confident in it, and seeing real results. I get discouraged less often and see more “incremental answers”–little ways I see God moving even if the “end result” answer remains unfinished. I can honestly say I’m learning to love to pray.
This, perhaps, is the greatest answer of all.
Thank You for Sharing Kari!
Kari is a homeschooling mama, pastor’s wife, speaker and writer. Her heart beat and life’s passion is for people to see that God is in every detail of life, even in the mundane. She believes that all of life is worship and that every breath is prayer, but some days you get dragged down by the drudgery. She writes more about it in her blog called, The Sacred Mundane. If you would like to read more of Kari’s writing, check out her blog and follow her Facebook!