Prayer Strategy: Important not just Urgent

“Your greatest danger is letting the urgent things crowd out the important.” 


This quote is from Charles E. Hummel’s book  Tyranny of the Urgent. It originally came from a businessman, in relation to dealing the urgent problems that arise and the need to do the important tasks necessary to keep the business going. I have been thinking this morning how this same idea applies to my prayer life.

The urgency of the list…Urgent requests can crowd out important prayer requests. My prayers can easily become a time of only asking God’s help with urgent requests (Lord, fix this…work here…heal her…) When I do this I miss out on praying for the important (bring salvation to…show her how to become more like You…) requests.

Moving beyond the list…My prayer list can become so long, with many urgent requests, that I become overwhelmed and discouraged. Recently I was introduced to prayer cards.* These cards help me to be intentionally focused on specific important requests and encouraged when I see them answered.

Making important a priority…Praying from cards has helped me to pray for the most important (salvation, godly character, etc…) need of the individual or group not just the urgent. Holding one card at a time, helps me to focus on them and bringing their important need to God. Having a card also allows me to update with other important requests and answers to prayer.

Stacking your prayer card deck…Every set prayer cards will be as unique, as the people God has placed in your life. Below are four suggestions to help you get started:

  1. Include individual (3×5 index) cards for immediate family members, one non-Christian for salvation and one group card each for extended family, friends (neighbors/co-workers), church leadership and small group, people in authority, etc…
  1. Ask God to show you what is the most important thing(s) for you to pray for this particular person or group. Add verses that related to the request.
  1. When praying, focus on each card one at a time, pick out one or two important areas on the card to pray for.
  1. Pray for immedidate family daily; pray for other individuals or groups weekly, rotating through the stack during the course of a month.

Prayers for the important and urgent…Prayer cards are only a part of my personal prayer time. I still pray for urgent requests. I also set aside time for extended periods of prayer, prayerfully studying God’s Word and journaling my prayers.

*You can learn more about prayer cards in the book, A Praying Life by Paul E. Miller.