The Prayer Bowl

Having trouble remembering everything you’d like to pray for? Try this simple solution.

By Lisa Biedenback, Hamilton, Ohio

People are always asking me to pray for them, and I always say yes. I mean, how do you say no to prayer? But with so many requests from coworkers, family and friends, colleagues and fellow parishioners—not to mention my own prayers—sometimes I lose track of all their prayer needs. I’m on prayer overload.

One day I was chatting with my friend Sister Bridget, an Ursuline nun. I mentioned my prayer overload problem to her. “I can’t remember who and what I’m supposed to be praying for!”

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“Try a prayer bowl,” she said. She told me that she keeps a small bowl in her home, and whenever she gets a prayer request, she writes it down on a slip of paper, and drops it into the bowl. “A couple of times a day I put my hand into the bowl and read through a handful of requests.”

I’ll have to give that a try, I thought.

Several months later, on a trip to Assisi and Rome, I found the perfect bowl, carved out of an ancient olive tree, full of beautiful swirls in shades of olive and brown.

I bought it and brought it home, and put it on my desk at work where I can see it every day.

Now, whenever I receive a prayer request or hear of someone in need, I write it on a slip of paper and put down the date. Then I drop it in the bowl. Lord, I pray, please remember everyone in this bowl. Some of the prayers have been, “Katie’s son in Iraq,” “Judy’s breast cancer” or “the sale of Bob’s house.”

May your will be done, I add.

My bowl is always full. But I never feel overwhelmed anymore. Just the opposite. After a month or two I take out the slips of paper and see how many of those prayers have been answered, and I add one more prayer of my own: Thank you, Lord.

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Your Comments (5)

I love this! I have had a prayer box before. But a bowl seems more appropriate. Especially since Revelation speaks of the prayers of believers being kept in bowls and that these prayers will be poured out like incense to God someday.
I have the perfect bowl! Thanks.

I keep a journal. In the beginning of every month I write in my journal a list of all the prople I have been praying for. Although I do not journal every day, I still look over the list during my prayer time. As the month goes on, I will add new prayers and people to the monthly list. Each month the list changes as new prayers are added. On the bottom of the list is a section for thanksgiving for the answered prayers. Since I keep my journals from year to year it is so neat to look back and see how God has intervened in the lives of my family, friends, church, etc. He is so faithful.

My Dad was a Evagelist. He had a can, sorta like a potato chip can on his desk and it had prayer requests in it.

I will try this! Thank You!

I am a nurse. Years ago one of my patients brought a little "church house" with a steeple and a slot in the "roof" with him to the hospital. As we became acquainted I mentioned the "church". He told me it contained prayer requests and how each day he prayed for different groups of people. Since I prayed daily for a long list of people, I made a list for each day of the week. Now I can focus more on certain people and their prayer requests or needs.
Example: Sunday-- my pastor, missionaries, the president, leaders of this nation... all the way down to the small town mayor, Monday-- myself and my husband, Tuesday --my oldest child and her family, Wednesday---my youngest child and her family, Thursday--my brothers and their families, my parents [while they were alive], nephews and thier families, Friday--bereaved, other family, friends, military, Saturday--homeless,unsaved,any other requests I have received. Until I learned the list I had a copy everywhere...purse, posted in my car,in front of Bible, a little note pad I carried in my pocket, etc. After over 20 years of doing this I "know" my list well and I do not feel overwhelmed or pressured while praying, knowing everyone will get their turn.