Inspired by my daughter Erin’s prayer box, I decided I would write down names and put them in a container to pull out and pray over, so I created a list of people as they came to my mind. I didn’t know what to use as my prayer box or basket so that paper simply got buried in a pile of papers on my counter. That pile was then transferred to a bigger pile on my dresser when I was “tidying up” one day. Weeks later while sorting through some of those piles I came across the paper of names, so I typed and printed them, and cut them up into little strips. I settled on putting them in a little blue pot that I purchased to grow herbs this summer (which I also never did). And even then the little blue pot filled with names sat on top of my kitchen hutch for a few more weeks. Weeks in which I never dipped my hand into the pot – not pulling even one name.
Then one day I knew it was time to get this new way of praying for others off the ground. One of the very first names I pulled happened to be the name of the person I love more than anyone. We had had a tough weekend and I wasn’t feeling so loving and gracious, so of course God would literally hand me his name. Here is how his name was handed to me ~ I had pulled two names that were stuck together and while I tried to rub them apart between my fingers, another name seemed to leap from the pot and land on the hutch. Interested and slightly amused, I dropped the two stuck names back in the pot and thought ‘This must be the person I am to pray for.’ It turned out to be my husband’s name. ‘Of course.’ I thought to myself. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. So I dropped my thoughts and ways and prayed for the man God gifted to me as my husband.
The next afternoon I was washing dishes and thinking of my sister-in-law. I was specifically thinking that I should be praying more for her kids. I prayed for them in that moment over the sink, and the next morning I ‘just happened’ to pull the slip with their three names on it. God was getting my attention. I pulled the name of my best friend’s daughter who had recently left for college, then I pulled that friend’s name the next day. Early one morning I pulled my youngest daughter’s name and when she came home from school said she had needed prayer so badly that day; she was amazed to discover I had pulled her name.
On and on it goes – I could tell so many stories of the names I have pulled.
Today was the one that took my breath away though. There is a mom I have never met, but who I think of often and pray for constantly. After months of neglecting the prompting that I believe God put in my heart to reach out to her, on Friday I finally sent her something in the mail. I have been whispering prayers all along the way that this is from God, that my reaching out is not intrusive, that I have perceived this nudging accurately, that it is of God, and not of me.
This morning it was her name I pulled from my prayer pot.
I have been at peace since, all doubts erased.
This prayer pot has been one of the most exciting prayer endeavors I have ever participated in ~I am eager each morning to see who I am to pray for. I believe God has given me enough of a glimpse to understand that whomever I pull from that prayer pot, there is a reason to be engaged in prayer on behalf of that person (As if I had forgotten how much it matters to pray for others!) If I never get another glimpse of the intentionality that seems to be behind the placing of the names in my hand each morning, I have been reminded that praying for others really matters, and I will hold it as an honor to pray for others in this way that might seem so random, but clearly is not.
Thanks to my daughter for leading the way…