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2741759137_a40f850dcd_oFor many years I used a loose leaf notebook for my prayer list (the Personal Prayer Notebook — see the earlier post on prayer lists). It was easy to update my prayer list and the Personal Prayer Notebook kept it organized. The Personal Prayer Notebook┬áhas a recommended organization for prayer with tabbed sections for (in order) Adoration, Thanksgiving, Confession, Intercession, and Petition.

Adoration is praising God — not thanking God for specific gifts received but rather praising God because of who God is, and praising the characteristics of God (holiness, abounding mercy, complete goodness, etc.). Many of the Psalms can be used here; Psalms 95 and 100 are two traditionally utilized for this purpose.

Thanksgiving is thanking God for gifts received whether requested or not. This helps us recognize what God has done, is doing, and will do for us. It is good to keep a list of answered prayers for use in this section. We should write on our hearts and in our minds that God loves a thankful heart (Psalm 50:14,23) and we should work toward having a general attitude of thanksgiving and gratitude.

Confession is the acknowledgement of our failings and request for forgiveness. I do not recommend keeping a list of sins (as some people do) as I find it better to do a brief examination of conscience and ask God to give me awareness of my sins. I rely on God to lead me in examining my faults and guide me in understanding the areas of my life where I need to improve.

Intercession is offering prayer for others. Many people ask for prayer if we but listen to them. Some requests are quite specific, for example in the case of illness. Many are vague: a person may say that he or she is having a difficult time with a spouse or a child. People may ask me personally to pray for them or they may make a general request so I also use the intercession list from my church bulletin for this part of prayer.

Petition is offering prayer for oneself. Let’s be clear: God knows our needs (Matthew 6:8, 32) but God also wants us to ask for what we need as the Lord’s Prayer makes clear (“Give us each day our daily bread”, Luke 11:3, NIV). We need to cover spiritual, mental, and physical needs.

During both intercession and petition we need to be keenly aware that God knows our needs better than we, and that God will give good gifts even if they are not the gifts we desired or expected (Luke 11:11-13). We certainly should not treat intercession and petition as a “shopping list” of what we want or as a “to do list” for God. It is better to approach with the thought, “Here are some things I want to discuss with you,” and then be open to God working in our lives. God’s gifts to us, in the long run, are better than anything we could have specifically requested.

One can maintain a prayer list for each section using Psalms, songs, poems, scripture portions, and of course, lists of needs or problems of others and ourselves. This is particularly useful for Adoration and Thanksgiving as psalms, songs, poems, and scripture often have the effect of raising our hearts and minds to God. With familiar verses the result is sometimes automatic — a line from a Psalm or a song may immediately transport one to a realm of praise or gratitude.

The order of Adoration, Thanksgiving, Confession, Intercession, and Petition is important. All the┬áliturgical daily offices with which I am familiar follow this order. We need to begin prayer by focusing on God rather than ourselves. We need to confess and repent so that we can discuss intercessions and petitions with a clear heart and mind. It is also important to pray for others (intercede) before praying for ourselves (petitioning). Jesus call us to focus on the welfare of others before focusing on ourselves. There’s an old adage that the way to joy is to think of Jesus first (J), then others (O), and lastly yourself (Y) (Matthew 22:37-40).

Another order for prayer, which is very similar though not identical to one above is given by the acronym ACTS: Adoration; Confession; Thanksgiving; and Supplication. Use either order — the important thing is to focus on God and not on ourselves, and to be thorough by giving attention to the several aspects of prayer.

prayer-book-1798452_1280A prayer list is an important tool for the Christian spiritual life. Most of us need written lists because our memories are not good enough for us to rely exclusively upon them. My first prayer list consisted of slips of paper which I kept inside the cover of my Book of Common Prayer (BCP). Since I use the BCP offices, this was a convenient place to keep the information. Initially the pieces of paper were unorganized — just notes made as I became aware of needs or when people asked for prayer.

As my prayer life matured and I found myself having more requests to remember, I decided I needed better organization for my prayer list. I purchased the Personal Prayer Notebook from the Anglican Fellowship of Prayer. (It is still available from the Canadian AFP: click here for information.) This small three-ring binder (which I still have after about thirty-five years) has general information on prayer and tabbed sections for Adoration, Thanksgiving, Confession, Intercession, and Petition. Since it is a loose-leaf binder, one can insert pages with one’s own intercessions and petitions, or materials one finds useful in prayer such as meditations. This binder served me well for decades.

Some years ago I purchased an Android tablet. One of the primary uses of my tablet is reading. I soon realized that I could easily copy the BCP Daily Offices and Psalter to my tablet and use the tablet for daily prayer. Having copied the Offices and Psalter, I decided also to copy my prayer list to the tablet. For several years I have produced my prayer list pages (for the Personal Prayer Notebook) on my computer. Having my prayer list in a word processor document made updating quick and easy. I produced a pdf document from the word processor document and copied it to my tablet. The Aldiko Book Reader app makes it easy to use the office, psalter, and personal prayer list by switching among the documents as needed. And that is what I currently use for daily prayer. I have everything on one small tablet which is easy to transport and the files are simple to access and use. I also have the Bible (pdfs of both the ESV and the NET) for the daily scripture readings. No more juggling books, and since Aldiko automatically keeps my place for me, I don’t have to worry with bookmarks or ribbons. It is especially handy when travelling as I everything is on my tablet which I would take on a trip anyway. It’s lightweight, and easy to pack and carry.