At the beginning of each year I usually set out to begin a Bible reading plan. It is at this point in the Spring that I can often let it slide a little. Thankfully, this year our church is going through the Read The Bible for Life plan and we use this as the base of our mid-week Bible Study. So I have accountability from others in the church to keep up with the plan. I also have accountability that I stay in the Word because I have to preach and put together Sunday School lessons weekly. This is good and I find great joy in doing it.
This is not true with prayer. There is nothing, or should I say no one who holds me accountable to pray. Outside of the public prayer times, I’m not held accountable to anyone to pray. Obviously the Lord Jesus expect me to pray (Matt 6:5-13; 9:38, Luke 6:28, 11:1) and I’m accountable to Him if I fail to pray. But I know the temptation to not pray often happens when there is no plan to pray.
The way I prioritize my work day goes like this:
1. Do the thing I need the most first: seek the Lord and pray to Him.
2. Do the thing I hate the most next: usually administrative related stuff or making a hard phone-call.
3. Do the thing I enjoy the most last: reading & study (still a seminary geek at heart!)
All this is to say that all Christians, especially those in leadership need a plan to pray. We need to have a set time, place, and goal (prayer list) in order to pray effectively. The advice of D.A. Carson is well worth consideration:
“Much praying is not done because we do not plan to pray. We do not drift into spiritual life; we do not drift into disciplined prayer. We will not grow in prayer unless we plan to pray. That means we must self-consciously set aside time to do nothing but pray.” (D.A. Carson A Call to Spiritual Reformation, p.19)