Making Lists (part two)

If you read my post this past Sunday, you already know that my wife and I–and our collective adult kids–are crazy about making and using wish lists. Especially at this time of year.

But I mentioned that we keep and use another kind of list as well. One that’s even more important.

That’s a prayer list. A list of the people we know about who have special needs we can do nothing better for than to pray.

Each of us has one or more lists, although our lists probably overlap a great deal.

We normally pray aloud before eating breakfast and supper, and I’m usually the one to do that. I have a number of items on my mealtime prayer list, and I don’t try to cover them all during one short prayer. Sometimes I do.

First I pray for our family, church, nation, and the people of Nicaragua (our church has an ongoing ministry with some churches in Nicaragua).

Next I pray for what I lovingly refer to as “our pregnant trio.” That includes my daughter and–until last week–one of Kathleen’s, who’s since had her baby.

Then comes a series of men, women, and children we know of with special needs. Right now, that begins with prayer for my father-in-law, who–after years of suffering 24/7–appears to be near death. At one point we would have prayed for his healing. Now we pray for God’s will to be done. Many of the other people on this part of the list have been on it for years now, but their needs continue and we can’t stop praying for them.

We also pray at mealtime for people we know of who’re grieving or perhaps have been grieving for a while. That’s especially important at this time of year.

I have my own private prayer list as well, which includes several people I never knew well, but nonetheless have concerns about their spiritual needs. This list started years ago with only two or three names, but has grown to fifteen-plus, including a Muslim who believes he can be both a Christian and a Muslim. I also pray for his family; I don’t know their individual names.

If you’re not a Christian–or someone who believes in a “god” of some sort–keeping a prayer list and using it daily may sound a bit strange. But we believe it’s important. The Bible teaches that God’s children are to ask Him for the things they want–but not like reeling off a wish list–and we believe God answers prayer. Not always the way we want–He sees things from a totally different perspective from us–but the way He knows is best.

Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before his crucifixion. He asked God the Father to spare Him from the suffering  He’d come to earth to endure for our sake. But He concluded His prayer with the words God always honors: “Not my will, but Yours.”

God may not answer our prayers for the many people on our lists the way we want, but we can be certain He’ll do what’s best according to His will and His purposes.

Is prayer real to you? Do you pray regularly? Do you expect answers? How about leaving a comment?


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Best regards,

5 thoughts on “Making Lists (part two)

  1. Prayer is thinking with God. It should be a conversation, a communion of thoughts. Lots of people confuse this.

    Some folks think that if they pray hard enough somehow the prayer will be answered. Or if they repeat the prayer a sufficient number of times this will somehow do the trick. Others think pure faith is all you need for prayers to be answered. It just aint so.

    I know a number of beautiful, innocent kids who believe in Santa and wish Santa will bring them this or that. And they Believe with all their hearts. Just because they believe it with all their hearts doesn’t make it so. Same goes for adults. Folks confuse faith with credulity. It amazes me that grown people actually think that if they have sufficient faith in something it will occur weather or not it is in line with divine will.

    I do not usually pray nor do I have lists of things to pray about. Lord knows (pun intended) there’s lots of needs in this world. There’s pain. There’s loneliness. There’s hate and poverty and distress. There are parents berift of children and children orphaned way too young. So many things we could count and these things are so widespread and so obvious that to even mention them to God seems redundant.

    In ”The Lords’ Prayer” Jesus didn’t mention these things either. IN that prayer he affirmed things he felt in his heart about God, that he wanted the kingdom to come and will to be done on Earth. He asked for todays’ bread and only for today. Deliverance from Evil. That we be forebaring. Very simple, straight forward. He didn’t ask for anyone to be cured. Or to find a mate. Or a new camel. none of that stuff.

    So when I am in my secret place, thinking my thoughts about the world, and wonder why things are the way they are and wonder when they will be corrected I use an inward eye to scout out the heavens and plead for an answer and the ability to understand my place here and forgiveness for my inability to grasp the meaning of the universe…


    • Tom, I am SO sorry! I don’t know how I overlooked responding to this one. It is definitely NOT offensive, and–even if it had been–that wouldn’t have kept me from responding. Please forgive the oversight!

      True, the Lord’s Prayer gives specific things to include in prayers, but I don’t think He meant for prayers to be limited to those. After all, look at what He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane–that if it was God’s will, he wouldn’t face torture and death the next day. Supplication can be requests made for oneself or for others.

      Since Jesus gave His disciples that prayer as an answer to their request that He teach them how to pray, I tend to think of His “model prayer” as “Prayer 101”–an elementary course on the subject. And people who pray the Lord’s prayer repeatedly instead of making the principles personal aren’t really praying. Not the way they could and should be, anyhow.

      I definitely agree and think most of the Christians I’ve talked with would agree as well that God never intended for prayer to be like reading off a wishlist. He’s not the Santa Claus in the sky, and people who view Him that way have–in your opinion and mine–missed the boat.

      Prayer is communication and should allow for time and listening hearts to be open to a response. (Your “thinking with God” is a great way to describe it.)

      I’m not sure where I got this idea, but I think one of the chief purposes of prayer is to learn what God really wants from us and to help us to align ourselves with his wise and loving desires. Or perhaps to say it in other words, to learn to want exactly what God Himself wants.

      In the Jan Karon Mitford series of books she refers to “not my will, but Yours” as the prayer God always answers. I really like that.

      One thing I acknowledge in my prayers is my gratitude that God is so much bigger and more complex than I can ever comprehend. He wouldn’t be worth worshiping or praying to, otherwise.

      (Typing this in has been a flakey process. I hope the cursor didn’t jump any of my wording to the wrong place. *pout*)


  2. Tom, thanks! I like that “same leaf” and I count you as a dear brother. Not putting you in the will, though. *LOL* BTW, what I often do with notices of your comments is to digest them for a few days before responding. But that means making sure I keep the notice in my inbox, and that’s obviously what didn’t happen when I failed to respond previously. Just wanted you to understand what happened.

    BTW, am currently finishing Billy Graham’s book, Angels. Not as deep as I’d expected. Then I move to David Limbaugh’s The Emmaus Code (Finding Jesus in the Old Testament), which I received for Christmas. It’s rare that I read non-fiction, but it looks super. Also reading Thirty Events that Shaped the Church. Highly recommend.


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