Building a Prayer List

While my stories and takes on life are written for a general audience, I also enjoy writing about how we as Christians should live. Here’s another take.

Called to Pray

As Christians we are called to pray for those in authority over us and for fellow believers.  This is demonstrated through the example of Christ (He prayed for you — “those who believe through their witness), Paul, and many others throughout the Scripture.

But who should you pray for today?

How Should You Track Your List

I have used many methods over the years to track my prayer lists — blank paper, notebooks, note cards, post it notes, Facebook groups, and most recently a spreadsheet.

What’s key here is for you to use a list that works for you and your schedule and is easy for you to find when you are ready to pray.

If you aren’t sure what to use then start with a simple piece of paper.

One one side write “Daily Prayer List” and on the other side write “Weekly Prayer List.”

Who you write on each side of the paper is up to you, but I generally make sure that my family, my boss, and my pastor are on the daily prayer list because I want God influencing those people who have the most pull in my own life.

Starting Your List

One caution as you start your prayer list is to start with something simple.  I recommend that your first prayer list have less than 20 names to start with.  You can always pray for other people that God brings to your mind throughout the day or add people as needs rise up.

The first name on your list should be yourself.  The second should be your spouse if you have one and after that your children (if any).  Lifting up yourself and your family will do more to change their lives and your heart than any amount of nagging ever will.

After that, add people who are in authority over you — your boss, your teachers, your parents (if you still live at home), your spiritual leaders, and the leader of your country.

Does this seem odd?

One of the few people that we are specifically told to prayer for in Scripture is those who are in authority over us (I Timothy 2:1-2) that “we may live in peace.”

Think about it from this point of view — Who has the most power to make your life good or bad?  Those who are in charge of you.  If they make poor decisions, it will likely trickle down on you as well.

Adding a few more names

So let’s list some people who can take you up to a total of twenty names.  Right now you should have 3 to 10 names on your list so let’s figure out a few more categories of people to help get you up to twenty.  All of these are suggestions, but you can add whoever you want instead.

o If you are not married, pray for your future spouse.  You may never get married, but if you do, don’t you want that person to be closer to God.  You may not know who this person is, but God does.

o Add three people who you’d like to see become Christians.  As you pray for them, think about how you can show them God’s love.

o Add three people who you generally think might get overlooked by others.  This isn’t being judgmental, it’s simply a reflection that people do get overlooked and often those people need more prayer and more care then some of the people we might otherwise notice.

o Add the three people that make you the most crazy (unless they are already on your list!).  By praying honestly for them, you will increase your sympathy for them and start to see them in the same way that God does.

o Add in some missionaries or some ministries or just people that you think the most about.

What Should I Pray

One question that I get when talking to people about prayer is “What should I pray for people?” or sometimes it’s a statement “I start a prayer list, but I don’t know what to pray for people day after day.”

My generic fallback prayer is that so-and-so “would be drawn closer to God.”   It doesn’t matter if they are the next Hitler or the next Mother Theresa.  You can never be too close to God so if you can’t think of anything else, this is a great place to be.

Ask God what to pray about for people.  Prayer in and of itself makes little sense.  After all, we’re praying to an all knowing God to assist people, but He already knows they need help.  So why do we pray?  The main reason is that prayer has been designed by God and He honors when we spend our time to interact with Him.  The other reason is that we are commanded as Christians to pray for one another.  So ask Him to direct your prayers for those on your list.

I often pray that single people will find a godly spouse, that authorities will make wise decisions that will protect me and help direct me, and that those who do not yet know Christ would have positive Christian influences brought into their lives.

Whatever you think of, the key is to pray for people on a long term, consistent basis.  God changes lives and He has chosen prayer as one of those means.

He calls us to pray and change people’s lives for the better.

Who could resist that challenge?

For more of my takes on Christianity, you can take a look here or you can peruse the home page

All articles are original content by Kent Ostby unless otherwise noted.

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