“We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father.”
1 Thessalonians 1:2-3
“The bottom line is we don’t write down our prayer requests because we don’t take prayer seriously. We don’t think it works.”
Paul Miller – Author, A Praying Life
If there is one thing I hate it is grocery shopping. I am terrible at it. Now I know you’re thinking: “Will, how can you be bad at grocery shopping?” My ability to grocery shop is measured by my ability to remember what I’m shopping for. And since I forget at least half of the items my wife asks me to get; I consider myself a bad grocery shopper. However, some people are great grocery shoppers. Why? They make meticulous lists with prioritized items. Therefore, they never forget anything they set out to get.
The same can be true for our prayer life. It can be less than productive when we set out to pray and forget half the things we wanted to pray for. But there’s a better way. Make a list! Simple, huh? It is simple but revolutionary for your prayer life. Today we’re going to take a look at what that list could look like.
Pray For Leaders
Paul says, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” (1 Timothy 2:1-2)
In our case, we don’t have a king, but our President deserves our prayer every day, according to God’s Word. Pray he will make right decisions. He won’t every time, no one does. But we pray for him and for salvation and that he comes to know Jesus Christ in a personal way. We do that for all those in authority.
Make a list of those who are in authority. Go on-line and get the names of world leaders in different countries, national leaders in our country, local leaders in your state and community. Pray for each one frequently – if not every day, then at least weekly. But your list should include people who are in authority. Why? First and foremost, praying for world leaders causes us to remember who is in control. We are reminded that no matter how powerful a world leader might be, God is still sovereign and we need Him to intercede on our behalf. Then from here we can pray, “That we may live peaceful lives.” (1 Timothy 2:2) We pray that leaders will bring peace in our land and in the world.
The Apostle Paul lived at a time when the person on the throne was not a very good person; actually, he was a pedophile. Yet Paul says here that you need to give him honor. Jesus said, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s.” Paul says in Romans 13:1 that we need to obey all authorities. Whoever they are, we need to pray for them.
Pray for Family
In addition to leaders, pray for your family. In the Bible there are all kinds of people who prayed for their families. Isaac’s servant prayed He would find him the right wife. People were praying for the health of those in their family. Put your family on that prayer list and pray for them every day. And pray spiritual requests, not just for health or that they get a job, but pray, “Lord, I pray my dad would have a walk with You that is vibrant today. I pray that my daughter would come to know You in a very real way and understand how You work in her life.”
Pray for Friends
Next, pray for your friends, pray for your church and for your church staff. List those staff members by name and pray for a different one each day.
Here are some other items to add to a prayer list: Pray for missionaries across the world spreading the gospel to unreached people groups. Pray for lost people in your neighborhood and opportunities to share the Gospel. Pray for your work (even if your work is at home with your kids) and that God would be glorified in your work. Be creative and don’t worry about the list being too long.
Your prayer list is going to deepen your prayer life. Pray without a list and you are going to pray for whatever comes into your mind at the moment. A list gives an order to your prayers and helps you pray for a particular person; let’s say your mother-in-law. If she’s on your list you’ll say, “Lord, I want to pray for this person.” Then pause. Let the Lord speak to you about how to pray for her. Give the Lord some latitude to bring things to your mind.
George Mueller, that 1800s evangelist I have previously cited, had a prayer list with over 10,000 people and things on it that he prayed for in his lifetime. When he got an answer to a prayer, he would write “answered” next to it. Can you imagine what that would do for your faith to see all those “answered” notations next to your prayer requests? I want to encourage you to do that. Get a notebook, sit down and list people and their prayer requests. Keep that notebook with you. Once a day, write down your prayer requests, making the requests specific enough so that you can write “answered” next to them. You will be amazed at how your list and your faith will grow.