The first part of my system consists of a set of 6 bracelets. I got the idea from a magazine article I read (by a mom with more children than I have!) and it's my "bare minimum" daily prayer goal: pray for my husband and 5 children daily. I have a bracelet for each person, with names spelled out in alphabet beads. I used white alphabet beads and blue and purple glass beads, which match pretty much everything I wear, so I can wear the bracelets daily. In the morning when I get up, I put all the bracelets on my left wrist. Then, even if it's a crazy busy day, I can pray for one person at a time as I do other tasks. When I've prayed for someone, I move the bracelet with their name on it to my right wrist. Sometimes the little ones will keep me on task, as E3 demands that I read the names on each bracelet (serving as a reminder of who is still on my left wrist).
The second part of my system involves a set of note cards. I started making them after buying and trying to use the book The Busy Mom's Guide to Prayer, by Lisa Whelchel (available from Amazon). The book guides you through 20 days of prayer in each of six categories: Praise, Self, Husband, Children, Personal Influences, and Reaching Beyond. A different aspect of each category was featured each day (for example, in the Husband category, different days might have you praying for his priorities, role as husband, role as father, or work). Something particularly helpful about the layout was that for each day's prayer in each category, a Bible verse was quoted, so that you could be sure you were praying out of the truth of God's word. However, note that I said "trying to use". There were items - particularly in the "Personal Influences" and "Reaching Beyond" sections - that really didn't apply to me (such as associate pastor, which our church doesn't have, or coworkers, which homeschool moms kind of don't have by definition), and things that I really wanted to be reminded to pray for more than once every 20 days (such as missionaries and friends). I also simply couldn't make myself pray the scripted "Praying the Word" prayer that followed each Scripture reference - a conversation with God in which my part is already written down for me is not appealing! So I took the basic idea and adapted it to my needs. I took a set of 4x6 note cards and cut them in half (resulting in cards that are a comfortable size to hold in my palm), with some of the halves having a part that sticks up higher than average so I can write a category name on it. I included some of the book's categories (Praise, Self, and Husband), and added some of my own, including a separate category for each child, and expanding "Personal Influences" and "Reaching Beyond" into categories including Missions, Ministries (Christian activity within the USA), Persecuted Church, Extended Family, Local Friends, Other Friends, Leaders, and Thanksgiving. On the basic cards, I wrote out verses that serve as a launching point for prayer. As I do my personal Bible study, sometimes a verse stands out to me and I think, "I should pray that for myself, or for Ari or one of the kids," so I copy it onto a note card and add it to the deck. I have verses for Praise, Self, Husband, and each of the kids, and then just names of specific people or organizations in the rest of the categories. As I receive updates from people, I can jot down specific prayer requests on their cards. Even with all those categories, if I spend a minute or two on each one it only takes about 30 minutes, which easily fits into the time I spend running 3 mornings a week. As I pray inspired by each Scripture reference, I move the card to the back of its category (or, in the case of the children, to the back of the next child's category), so my prayers are different each day and I don't get bored. It makes the prayer more of a conversation, as I'm hearing God's voice through his word and responding in prayer. Over the course of a few weeks I'm praying for everyone and everything I want to, I'm praying based on the Bible, and I'm staying on task. I'm still hoping to move more toward "praying without ceasing" - but at least I'm no longer "ceasing without praying"!
What's neat is that, by being more consistent in prayer, I can see specific answers to specific requests I've made recently. Ari and I had been concerned about one of our children having a constant sense of grievance - nothing was ever good enough for him. As I prayed for that child daily, I asked God to work a sense of gratitude in his heart. A little over a week ago, he came up to me, and said, "There are big happinesses that happen every year, like Christmas and my birthday, and little happinesses that happen every day, like yummy food, and tiny happinesses that happen every second, like having a shadow." It was so encouraging to see his attitude change as a direct result of God's work in his heart!
What have you found helpful in seeking to be constant in prayer? Let me know in the comments!