Prayer Top 10 Lists
Aren’t you glad there isn’t a playback button for your prayers? That you can’t go back and watch the tape on them? If you could, you’d be able to scientifically determine what you pray for most often. Since you can’t, you’ll have to do this next exercise from memory.
Maybe for some, evaluating prayer is a bit sacrilegious, since prayer is supposed to be personal, private, or just “from the heart.” I get that.
Some just need to pray. Forget evaluating content–just get on your knees and begin! Others have started, but are stuck at “simple prayer” and have never gone beyond it. And still others have strayed far from biblical prayers and need a course correction.
If prayer is a spiritual discipline, if it is part of our friendship and communion with God, and if it is a learned practice rather than an innate part of us, then we should approach it with intentions to improve.
Below is a simple exercise for this. First, make a list of what you hear people pray for most often. Here’s mine, in no particular order.
- Health concerns.
- Safety and protection.
- Thanks for food.
- For family members (marriages, kids, aging parents, etc.)
- Wisdom in decision making/knowing God’s will.
- Help in tasks at work.
- Intercession for others.
- Unsaved loved ones.
- Holy Spirit to move in worship.
- Obedience to God’s word.
Then make a list of your own prayers. What do you pray for most often? This is mine, in no particular order.
- My own spiritual formation. Confession of sins, asking God to show me where I need to be obedient to Him, and surrendering those areas of my life and ministry to Him.
- The daily office.
- Praying Scripture back to God. Regardless of what I’m praying for, I find it easy to intersperse my words with words of Scripture.
- Intercession for others:
- For my wife and kids.
- For the rest of our families.
- For our church: marriages, unsaved family members of people at NBWC, ministries, leaders, district and missionaries.
- Health concerns.
- Thanksgiving and praise.
- The Lord’s Prayer.
- Spiritual warfare: praying against the enemy.
- Lamenting. In the way of the psalmists, especially in the hard areas of ministry.
- My future: Knowing and discerning the will of God.
You may have some overlap with me, or may have a totally different list.
Finally, read through the Bible and note the content of the prayers you find. Bible Gateway has made this easier by giving free access to the Dictionary of Bible Themes. I’ve made the link go to the “prayer” section. In a future post, I’ll put what I discovered from the New Testament.
Here’s the bottom line: The content of our prayers directly reflects who we believe God to be. They also reveal the nature of our values. In our intercession for others, we believe God to be compassionate for their needs. In our thanksgiving, we believe God to be worthy of thanks in the good and the bad.
I encourage you to allow God to shape the content of your prayers where necessary.