I am a strong believer in helping people to a develop personal prayer list. For many people the idea of a ‘prayer list’ sounds dry and boring but actually it is a powerful tool in our prayer life. We want to ensure that we don’t neglect certain areas or themes in prayer. Let me use a weight lifting example: I’m not a big weight lifter but I’ve been to the gym enough to see that people who are serious about weight training have a list of exercises that they go through in their work out. Often they will have a small booklet with them and check off how many sets they did and what the weight was for each set. If you’re serious about weight training you want to ensure that you’re hitting all the various muscle groups in a systematic way. (otherwise you might end up with huge biceps but tiny lats!)
It’s important to have a systematic approach to our prayer life as well. There are a number of different areas in prayer that I want to practice and gain strength in and one of the important means for doing that is to develop a personal prayer list.
Here is how I approach it: I have a list that has 3 main sections: “Personal Devotional”, “General Intercession”, “Specific Requests”. The section names are not important; you can call them whatever you want, but let me explain the differences and why each section is important.
Personal Devotional prayer is a section that applies to my personal spiritual life. It contains Scripture passages that I like to pray for myself on a regular basis. A example of that would be the great commandment in Matt. 22:37 to love God with all my heart, soul, and mind. Another example would be Galatians 5 and the list of the fruit of the Spirit. These are important passages that I want to make sure that I’m praying into my life on a regular basis. (I also have sub-categories within this section, but that’s for another post!)
General Intercession is a list of prayer areas that are ongoing and that I want to cover regularly. Some examples would be my marriage, my wife and my kids. I also have areas related to my job. In each one I have specific Scriptures that I pray through. The key here is that the areas are ‘ongoing’ or ‘long term’ rather than ‘seasonal’ or ‘temporary’.
The Specific Requests section is where I have included more ‘temporary’ prayer needs. This is the part of my prayer list that changes regularly. It includes what I would call ‘traditional prayer requests’, such as people with illnesses or other ‘short term’ needs. When people say “can you pray for this or that”, those requests go in this section.
There is so much more to say about how to develop a prayer list, but for today I simply wanted to introduce the concept. Always keep in mind that the purpose is to help strengthen your prayer life. A prayer list is a tool to serve your vision to connect your heart to God through prayer. The unfortunate reality is that most people do not have a disciplined, balanced approach to their prayer life, and developing (and using!) a prayer list can be a significant tool to help remedy that in our lives.
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