This may be a controversial topic to some. Maybe it doesn't sound spiritual enough to suggest that you pray with notes in front of you.
Well, consider this. The preacher preaches from his notes. The Sunday School teacher teaches from a book or from notes. The school teacher and the college professor teach from notes. Every student prepares for examinations using notes. If your company sends you off to a seminar to get valuable training, you come home with a stack of notes that you refer to when the going gets tough. Is that enough examples? Even the President of the United States delivers the State of the Union address reading WORD-FOR-WORD from notes!
Now, let me contrast that to most people's praying. Let me qualify myself just a tad bit here. I've spent nearly my whole life in church, around Bible-believing people. And I'm going to tell you that in most cases, I have NOT been very impressed by the way a lot of people pray.
I could give you an extensive list of ways NOT to pray! (But I won't - at least not right here.)
I will give you a few examples, however. Moaning and groaning and saying "hallelujah" 40,000 times, non-stop, is NOT effectual praying. In fact, it just might be an absolute waste of time.
If all you do when you pray is sit there and whine about how awful your life is, and you wear out the grace of God with your self-pity, you are not going to be very happy with the results you get. You probably won't have any results at all.
Real prayer is just as conversational as any conversation you have with your friends and acquaintances. But it is FAR more than conversational.
Power praying has to be focused, prioritized and specific. If you usually spend an hour praying for one or two things, you are really off-base. I'm not saying that will never happen, or that it should never happen. I'm just telling you that is not the most effective way to pray.
When you pray, believe that you will have what you ask, and expect that God is hearing and is going to answer your prayers. You don't have to have a nervous breakdown to pray an effectual prayer. You don't have to stress yourself into a digestive disorder. Just pray, and believe that your praying is going to touch God's heart. It will, if you do it right.
The reason I argue in favor of praying by notes is because it helps me pray for a LOT more of what I want to pray for. Maybe you have a photographic memory, but I don't. If I don't keep a list of names in front of me, I cannot possibly remember all the people I want to pray for. If your praying is always over the same little short list of things, you are missing the mark - big time.
When my wife, Dixie, died in 2003, I had something of an epiphany about prayer. I had observed her praying for years for people that she loved. She wanted God to save and help all of them. I knew that the people she was praying for were very dear to her. I also realized that when she died, many of those people no longer had an intercessor. The reason I know that is true is because there are so many people who have no association or real link to a Bible-believing Christian. I am sure that many of the people on Dixie's prayer list had NO other intercessor beside her.
So, I vowed to myself that I would make a list of everybody I could remember her praying for. Many of those people were already on my prayer list, but several of them were not. Dixie's prayer list caused my list to be considerably longer. I balked at first when I realized how much time it would take me to keep all those people in my prayers. But I made the commitment to myself, and after several years, I still pray for every one of those people regularly.
Maybe you think that is an exercise in futility. Well, I can think of a lot of things far more futile than prayer. I'd rather "waste" my time praying, than watching 200 TV episodes of "Wheel of Fortune," or listening to talk radio, or surfing the Internet. If I have said all my prayers for the day, there will still be time for other things. Just don't make excuses. Praying for people is not a waste of time. I can think of a zillion things that are less important than praying, and nothing more important.