Praying about WHAT to give to those I love helps me shop. I ponder my list and pray - before I start shopping - in the mall parking lot, at a coffee stop, or as I scroll through websites. Like you, I want each gift to be meaningful, heart-felt, and the right size and color!
Determining the right gift for each person is challenging. As you shop, you might consider prayer as THE GIFT for those you love. John Calvin felt this and described it this way:
"To make intercession for men is the most powerful and practical way
in which we can express our love for them."
The Old Testament judge, Samuel, in his words of farewell to the Israelites put it this way: "As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you…" (1 Samuel 12:23a) Notice - he's saying that not praying for the people was a sin - not against them - but against God! That passage has been a great motivation for me as I pray for those I love.
Your prayer gift could be given in a lovely, hand-written note or a printed note mounted in a frame or a sticky note slapped on their bedroom door. Anything that shows the one you're praying for that this gift of committed prayer is a carefully selected gift, right from your heart.
Tell the person that you'll be praying in a specific, scheduled way (not in the random-when-you-come-to-mind way) - daily, or weekly, or monthly (whatever your commitment is) for him/her. I find it helpful to set an alert on my phone and computer to remind me of these prayer commitments, and to tell the person when their prayer alert is. They're as important as any calendar event I have! I also post a card with 1 Samuel 12:23a written on it over my kitchen sink, by my bedside, on my desk, and on the bathroom mirror as reminders, day in and day out, all year.
What to pray? There's always something.
I ask my prayer-people what I can pray for. I tell them to give me an idea or I'll make something up! Even people who don't believe in prayer are usually glad to know that you're praying for them.
Some years, I find it helpful to have one word designated for each prayer-person - a prayer theme that I can pray almost automatically. Example: Salvation or Protection or Humility.
Here's how David prayed for his people - it's a great prayer to echo:
"O LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, our fathers,
keep forever such purposes and thoughts
in the hearts of your people,
and direct their hearts toward you."
~ 1 Chronicles 29:18
What do you remember about gifts you gave last Christmas? I don't remember many of them. But I do remember the tiny, hand-written cards to my most-loved ones. I gave prayer: daily heart-gifts, all through the year. These gifts linked me with those dear ones and with the Father of us all.
Imagine it: years from now - when the clothing we gave is discarded, when the gadgets we gave are outmoded, when the technological devices we gave are antiques, when the trinkets we gave are tarnished, imagine that a tattered, little stack of prayer notes remains as a treasure: a testimony of our love.
Praying for our dearest ones is one of the high privileges of the Christian life. But it's one that's easily squeezed out by life. I find that promising my dear ones that I will pray for them becomes a promise I want to keep.
Prayer cards are a yearly tradition for me - to remind myself to pray and to remind the people I pray for that - yes: I plan to pray for them. They're a nice Christmas-extra to tuck into a stocking or by a dinner plate. Or they're also a sweet note to pop into the mail to arrive early in the new year.
If these little tools would be helpful for you - they're on my Resources page! It's a perfect chore for a cold, winter evening.♥ Print out the little cards and slip them into envelopes. And pray.
Rejoice in hope,
be patient in tribulation,
be constant in prayer.
~ Romans 12:12 (ESV)
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May God bless you with a constant, prayerful heart for those you love!