Over the past few years, I’ve struggled to find a prayer list method that works for me. I’ve tried quite a few variations, from journals to index cards to phone apps. Some were great, some were not-so-great, and some just weren’t right for me at that point in time.
Thankfully, I finally stumbled across a method that fits my lifestyle perfectly, and makes it easy to actually use the list (which I hope to write about soon). But one thing was true, whether I liked a particular method or not.
It required work.
I had to be willing to stop and pray whenever my reminder alarm went off. Or be willing to pull out that notebook every morning before starting the rest of my day. Or purposely go to bed early, so I could dedicate time to pray before going to sleep.
Because what good is a prayer list if you don’t use it?
If you have a prayer list, but don’t actually use it to pray on a regular basis, then it’s not much better than a dust collector. And even worse, those unused prayer lists actually con you into thinking your prayer life is good, even when it’s not. Because whenever you start feeling guilty about not praying enough, you just look over at Exhibit A — the fat prayer notebook, bound with multiple elastics and bursting with prayer cards and sticky notes — and suddenly feel better. Right?
But just because you have a prayer list, doesn’t mean you’re actually using it. Just because you keep track of everyone’s requests and update your list regularly, and keep it organized and nearby at all times, doesn’t mean you’re praying faithfully and consistently.
In order for a prayer list to work, YOU have to work. Otherwise, your prayer list is being wasted. tweet this
Let’s change gears for a minute. Let’s say that I’m planning to go grocery shopping tomorrow (I promise, this is relevant). How am I going to prepare?
- Sometime today: I’ll take my handwritten list from the side of the fridge, copy it into a spreadsheet, and organize it by areas in each store. I’ll take some time to look through the ads for BiLo, CVS, and Whole Foods, and jot down anything on sale that isn’t already on the list. Finally, I’ll sort through the coupons I’ve acquired since my last grocery trip, discarding the expired ones, and organizing the others by date and by category.
- Tomorrow morning: I’ll leave early in the day so I can grab coffee from Dunkin Donuts instead of making it myself. Then I’ll head to one of the busiest roads in our area, since it has all my usual stores. I shop every 2 weeks, instead of every week, so it will take about 3 hours to complete. And then I’ll head home, unload the car, and put everything in its rightful place.
- Tomorrow night: I’ll start thinking about making dinner, look over all the food packed into my fridge and stacked neatly in my freezer, survey the full pantry, and glance at whatever’s in the cabinets. And then I’ll decide it’s too much work, and I don’t feel like making anything. So I won’t eat, and my family won’t eat, and the food will just sit there unused.
Sounds silly, right? But that’s what we do with our prayer lists. We spend all that time and effort setting them up, and then what happens? They just sit there, unused!
Instead of benefiting from dedicated prayer time, and blessing others by interceding for them, we get nothing. Our prayer lists are wasted.
On the other hand, what if I chose to do the work? What if I looked at all the food stuffed in my fridge, and pantry, and cabinets… and even though I’m tired, even though the day was busy, I decided to make time to prepare dinner for my family? What if I discarded all my excuses and just purposed to do the work anyway?
- My family would be fed.
- I would be fed.
- We would experience long-lasting benefits (assuming it’s not french fries and candy apple rings).
- The food would not be wasted.
- The money, time, and effort spent planning and shopping would not be wasted.
So let’s transfer that idea over to our prayer lives. Consider the long-term benefits of praying consistently. Do they outweigh the little bit of work needed to do it today? Consider how extensively you can help others — and how much you will grow personally — through consistent, fervent prayer. Is it worth the time and effort it takes to practice it?
Are you willing to do the work? Or will your prayer list be wasted?
Original photo source: Amir Kuckovic