This morning on the way to the church I was thinking through lenten ideas. I was still groping with what to do as my own lenten discipline. I recalled a great idea that my good friend and PD reader Angie Southard had done as an Advent discipline. She created a prayer jar. Here is how she described the activity in her Christmas Manifesto,
I will pray each day for a specific person. My plan is to pray about who I should pray for during Advent, make a list of the names that come to me, one for each day of Advent and write each name on a piece of paper. I will place these slips of paper into a jar. Each day I will select a name from the jar and pray for that person throughout the day. The reason for placing each name in a jar is so that I won’t feel like I’m going through a check list and so that it will feel like I’m praying for the person God feels I should be praying for on that particular day. I am also doing this because I keep thinking about doing something along these lines. This is as good of a time as any to try this idea out!
What a great idea to adapt for Lent. All you need to do is write down 40 names on individual slips of paper, put them in a jar, draw one daily and pray for that person. Some of the names on the slips of paper where not individuals. Some were groups. For instance, I know that Angie prayed for the Session (church board) of her church one day. She prayed for some other groups as well.
The prayer jar was a great experience for her. Here is what she had to say about it afterwards in a guest post for The Practical Disciple.
I am also happy to report that I did indeed pray for a specific individual or group every single day. In the beginning, I found myself really looking forward to seeing who’s name I’d pull from the jar. Sometimes I’d say a simple prayer before I would draw a name asking God to help me select the name of the person needing the prayers most at that time. For some people, I felt compelled to share with them that I was praying for them for that day. I like to think it made that person feel loved by me. It was a bit disjointed for me to switch the focus each day though. I did a similar activity this summer where I spent 30 days praying for one focused topic. It was a great experience for me. I was hoping this “different person a day” approach would be similar and I was disappointed it was not similar. But it was still a good thing. Praying on a daily basis is never a bad thing.
After I created my list of names and placed them in the jar, I was disappointed to discover I failed to include someone special to me. And then I had to mentally kick myself b/c I don’t need to select a name out of a jar in order to pray for a person. A couple of interesting notes: my children were thrilled to discover I had prayed for them individually. There was great conversation between the older two and excitement regarding my prayer jar. It showed me though that I don’t share with them enough that I pray for them b/c I pray for them all of the time. Even my husband was excited when I selected his name. And then I selected “elders” the next day and he was excited I had prayed for him two days in a row. I think he looked forward each day to seeing whom I had selected for the day. One other interesting fact, my first name drawn was for our pastor. So my first day of prayer was for our church in a sense. I thought that was a fitting start! I chose Christmas day to be my last day in this exercise. I don’t think it is technically a day of Advent, but nonetheless, I chose it to be my final day. On my last day, on Christmas, the name that was left in my jar was “church”. I thought it was appropriate that on Christmas day, my prayers were to be for my church. A full circle! I was worried that I’d forget to pray for the last “individual” b/c it was Christmas and I’d be distracted. “Church” being my final name kept me from forgetting b/c it was all around me all day!
This is definitely going into my bag of lenten ideas and I will be incorporating into the idea I am working on for my personal discipline this season.
So, are you giving something up or committing to a spiritual discipline during Lent? If so, I would love to hear you ideas. If you are looking for an idea consider one of the many lenten ideas on my Lent resource page, click here.
Filed under: Uncategorized