“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
In the chaotic frenzy of life it is our nature to forget. We forget that person we said we would pray over. We forget God’s answered prayers in the face of fresh anxiety. We forget to pray at all.
With such fickle memories, wouldn’t it be helpful to write down our prayer requests?
Take ten minutes each day to compose two lists for reference as you pray: a “Thankfulness List” and a “Supplication List.”
The Thankfulness List
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4.6-7)
Often the words “with thanksgiving” get skipped over when we paraphrase the above passage. Thanksgiving should not be limited to November; gratitude should be a daily habit.
If my children make “demands” and never bother to say a word of thanks, I will stop them and remind them of their responsibility to use good manners. Whether someone gives them a huge present or a small food sample at Costco, they are expected to say, “thank you.”These two simple words indicate both respect and cordiality, and God deserves even more than this basic platitude.
Before making a single request, stop and say “thank you” to the Father who has done more for us than we can imagine.
We have a tendency to fuss and fret over what we don’t have while forgetting about everything we do have. Before making a single request, stop and say “thank you” to the Father who has done more for us than we can imagine. Inevitably, those long lists of requests shrink in the face of God’s abundant provision.
What has the Lord done for you?
Make a list! Write it as a memorial for your heart. Re-read it when life gets heavy.
Reflect on the past week (or even the past month) and consider both blessings and answered prayers. Even under the worst circumstances, our salvation through Christ, God’s abundant grace, and His steadfast love, provide ample reasons to be thankful.
Here are some suggestions:
- The intercession of the Holy Spirit
- The forgiveness we have in Christ
- God’s grace
- Abiding in God’s presence
- The Church
- The Bible (preserved against all odds!)
- Access to fresh water
- The ability to work/steady income
- Health insurance and/or good health
Our physical blessings can disappear in a moment. Many people for whom I pray have lost one or more of these blessings. If you have them, give thanks; if you don’t, focus first on what the Lord has done for you, then take your hardships to Him in supplication.
The Supplication List
Supplication, by definition, is a humble entreaty or petition. Sometimes I offer up prayers the moment a person requests prayer. In a moment of anxiety, I find peace when I call upon the Lord. These “arrow prayers” should not replace devoted prayer time but should be part of a healthy prayer life. In your devoted time of prayer, pray for others first. I have a tendency to rush into my needs and forget the needs of others. Practice putting the needs of others before your own—both in action and in prayer.
“Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” (James 5:16)
The blessing of fellow Christians includes the power of prayer. Keep your list updated. Follow up regularly. Not only will this keep your list focused, it communicates love and value to the individual in need. In a world where real connections are few and far between, people long to be loved with Christ-like care. When a prayer is answered, write the answer and the date next to the request, and add the answered prayer to your “thankfulness list.”
Once you have prayed for others, take your personal requests to the Lord.
Sometimes we think something is too small or too big to take to God, but it’s not! Commit this to memory: If it’s worth worrying about, it’s worth praying about.
Are you faced with a big decision? Take it to the Lord.
Does your heart ache with grief? Take it the Lord.
Are you plagued with nameless fears? Take them all to the Lord.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5.6-7)
Cast and continue to cast. Cast them all. Cast until the weight no longer troubles you. Our loving Father created the vast universe, yet not even one sparrow falls outside His notice. He cares for you. He promises never to leave or forsake you. Pray these verses and acknowledge His promises, allowing His presence to bring you unfathomable peace.
Write down decisions, anxieties, and fears on your prayer list and keep them there until an answer comes. When peace or answers arrive, write them down next to your prayer request. Make a note of it on the thankfulness list. This list isn’t to pat yourself on the back; your prayer list is a small memorial of what the Lord has done for you, lest you forget.
Life moves at a breathtaking pace, threatening both our memories and our peace. Remembering the Lord’s faithfulness is critical to sustaining our own. Do everything you can to remember His love morning by morning, prayer by prayer, until He returns or calls us home.
Elihu Anderson is a surviving California native currently thriving in West Texas. When she isn’t writing for Elihu’s Corner, she is teaching, researching, walking, and book-worming with a cup of chai. Visit Elihu at elihuscorner.com