June 7, 2022
“With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people” (Ephesians 6:18b, NIV).
I’m not sure how God places people on my prayer list. Often, I pray for those whom I have not seen or heard speak in a very long time and come near to dropping them from my list; then, God shows them up again. Last week one such Christian doctor called me after five years of absence to ask advice about a medical case. Another, whom I had not seen in 12 years, responded to a devotion I had written for CMDA—and then a third. I don’t believe these three reconnections, crossing to me on a bridge of prayer, were a coincidence.
What am I to learn from three prayed-for servants of Christ contacting me out of the blue? I’m certainly not impressed with myself for having been remembered. God was doing a different thing. He was blessing me by the reunions, letting me learn from people I love in new and fresh ways, reminding me of God’s work in the past, updating my knowledge of His present work in lives that were pointed toward His kingdom, giving me increased energy and encouragement to do likewise.
God gives me those for whom I pray. I don’t personally try to add names to my list. If so, I would just end up with a long list, leading to prayers of shallowness and habit.
As Shakespeare put it in Hamlet: “My words fly up; my thoughts remain below: Words without thoughts never to heaven go.” Or, like those teachers of the law, whom Jesus described in Mark 12:40a, “…for a show make lengthy prayers” (NIV).
A long list of names without prayers of sincerity are probably more harmful than helpful to both me and the prayed-for.
So, why do I pray for others when many are so far removed?
- I need to remember the Godly lessons I learned when I was with them—and I know;
- God uses my prayer, just like He uses the sincere prayers of all Christians, to work in other lives for His glory—and often;
- God uses my prayers to inform me that I should be part of His answer to the prayers of those for whom I pray.
So, as I grow older, my list grows, and my prayer time grows longer. Thank God for long runs and 30-minute commutes to work each day.
Who needs to be on your prayer list? Who do you need to remember? Who needs God’s power unleashed by your prayer? Who needs you to be part of God’s answer to their prayers?
Give to me the names of those for whom I should pray and let me listen to you as you listen to me.