MAKING A PRAYER LIST
By: Paul Anderson
I have been a slow learner with prayer. I often find it hard work. But at the age of 70, it is a bit easier than in earlier years. One thing that has really helped is a…
Prayer list. You’d think it would get boring to pray for the same things over and over again. It seldom does. It keeps me on track, because I easily wander. It is better for me than winging it. Not every item grabs me, but something always does, and not the same item each day.
Ever leave your prayer time wondering if you covered what you were “supposed” to? Not anymore for me. Hardly ever. And when a friend asks for prayer, I remember, as long as I add it to my prayer agenda. With a prayer list, my time feels more like a meeting than a random happening. God and I are doing business. Our meeting usually takes place the first thing in the morning.
A time later in the day is used for listening. Then God shares with me what is on His list! Paper and pen are at hand to jot down His concerns and priorities. I am sometimes surprised at how eventful that half hour can be. God talks—our job is to listen. I’m not good at teaching people how to do it, but one thing I say is, “Quit talking.” I try to let the Spirit guide my thoughts—and He does!
An acronym helps keep the focus. The morning starts with…
PRAISE, because we are encouraged to “enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise” (Ps. 100:4). Pressing issues may trump this, as it often did for David in the Psalms (“Why?” or “Help!”), but the focus usually starts with God, as the Lord’s Prayer invites us to. A list of qualities of God helps to keep the flow, and the list expands periodically. One of them often catches my attention, so I stop and reflect, sometimes for the full worship agenda. A list of things to thank God for comes next and stays surprisingly fresh, even though it begins with thanks for trials, tests, tension and conflict. It then moves to more positive things like the new earth, open doors, and answered prayer.
WHAT GOD IS: Loving, invisible, eternal, righteous, just, forgiving, generous, faithful, sovereign, good, purposeful, unchanging, accessible, helpful, powerful, predictable
WHAT GOD DOES: forgive, justify, sanctify, glorify, seat us in heavenlies, rule and
overrule, discipline, enable, motivate, restrain, encourage, comfort, support, exhort
THANKSGIVING: trials, tests, tension, conflict, time, abiding, opportunities, new earth, open doors, healing, answered prayer, music, home, ministry, friends.
When Isaiah had a vision of the Lord “seated on a throne,” he heard angels singing, “Holy, holy, holy.” But then he said, “Woe is me.” When we picture the holiness of God, we are more prepared to confess our unholiness. So after I praise God, I…
REPENT. As a young man I got tripped up by sin-consciousness, thinking the more I thought about sin the better off I was. It didn’t work. We are changed by what we believe and what we behold. If we believe that we are dead to sin as Romans 6 teaches, we are. And if we gaze on Jesus rather than our sin, we are transformed (2 Cor. 3:18). As someone has said, “It’s about the Son, not the sin.”
So I don’t spend a long time here, but I have a list of sins that can trip me up. Confessing the whole list whether I am conscious of stepping over the line or not helps to keep me self-aware: “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (I Cor. 10:12).
Waste time, undisciplined, lack of passion, unloving, insensitive, uncaring, judgmental, critical, anxious, fearful, doubtful, self-conscious, overbearing, presumptuous, opinionated, stubborn, easily offended, unbelieving, careless, tolerant, selfish, unmerciful. Neglectful in witness Bible reading, listening, dying.
Sometimes as I go over the list, I remember a time when a corrective word came with too much force, so a confession is made for not being gentle. Once I have confessed, I can see more clearly and I am ready to…
ASK, the longest part of the prayer agenda. It includes asking for self, family, friends, people in my ministry, other ministries, the sick, pastors, missionaries, unsaved, special needs, and a few other concerns. Each item has specific names or needs, and some of the lists are long, like people who need healing. This is the part of the prayer agenda that changes most often. (Thank God for computers). Once I have presented all these needs and requests to our gracious Father, I am prepared to…
YIELD. I yield my time, resources, body, energy, plans, mind, heart, attitudes, goals, decisions, happiness, sorrows, opinions, problems, prejudices, weaknesses, sins, pain, struggles, anxieties, hopes, dreams, fears, regrets, failures, family, day, future, destiny to the Lord (Rom. 6:16-23). I want to think God’s thoughts, speak His words, and do His deeds, so as I yield up these areas to God, my mind is being renewed.
You might try using a prayer list and see if it works for you. It does for me, though sometimes I don’t use it, especially if on what I call a walky-talky. Two more things to consider: have a set time and place. We schedule what we are serious about.