To conclude some of the thoughts I've shared about prayer this week, I want to offer the suggestion of using prayer cards. For a fuller explanation, go to Paul Miller's A Praying Life, but the basic idea is to think of people or recurring ideas in your life that you'd like to talk to God about. Make a card for each of those people/groups of people/institutions/etc. and then use them as a reminder not only of what to pray about but also as a record of how God responds to those prayers.
I have a card for each of our children, for instance, and over time I've added a verse from the Bible to each of those cards. I write down specific requests–that Penny and William would become friends with each other, for instance, or that God would give us wisdom in teaching Marilee how to sleep, or that the doctors would help us discern whether Penny needs another set of tubes in her ears. I also have a card for "marriages" with about twenty couples on it–some days I pray for a few of them, others none at all. I have a card for our church, a card for my extended family, a card for close friends, a card for people who need healing, a card for issues related to disabilities. It's just a practical way to keep track of my hopes, dreams, fears, and needs as well as God's ongoing responses to those things.
With time, I can look back at those cards and see the gentle whispers of the Spirit writing the story of our lives, making sense of the mystery, bringing redemption out of the hard things, holding us together. Prayer cards aren't the only way to talk to God. But they have allowed me to see the sweetness of God, the responsiveness of my heavenly Father to the requests of his children. They have helped me live with gratitude and come a little closer to continuing steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it, with thanksgiving.