Getting older equates to less mental recall and more written lists. Anne Ortlund used to say, “When you write it down, it clears out your head,” implying limited thinking capacity but unlimited pen and ink.
I’m with Anne.
My prayer list is particularly long, which may or may not have freed up mind-space, but I defiinitely need that list. And once someone’s name goes on it, there’s only one reason to take it off: no more requests.
I remember the first time it occurred to me Nate no longer needed prayer. Being my husband, he was #1 on the list and factored heavily into my conversations with God. What a funny feeling to see his name there and realize my praying for him was done. Every request had either been answered or was no longer necessary.
When someone dies, their need for our prayer evaporates, but that’s not all that disappears. We can no longer claim biblical promises for that one or request salvation for a person who didn’t know. Opportunities to tell our faith story or testify of God’s work in our lives also end. Although death brings a conclusion to disease and pain, it also terminates our chances to stand in the gap for someone else.
Tending to a prayer list is a golden opportunity to do a good deed for another, and Scripture has much to say about good deeds. They can be offered to God for his use, and sometimes he even lets us take part in his supernatural work of answering prayer requests. Praying through a prayer list is the most powerful gift we can give to anyone, whether the people know we’re praying or not.
This weekend our area endured 48 hours of the most impressive winds I’d ever experienced. Sixty mph gales toppled trees and twisted massive branches to the ground. Sticks were rammed into windshield wipers and tire rims. As I listened to endless debris hitting our windows and roof, one especially large limb landed with such force it shook the whole house, causing even Jack to jump from out of a sound sleep.
Lying in bed that night with the electricity out and winds clawing at the house, I thought of God’s power to abort any storm. Jesus could have stepped onto my front porch and whispered, “Wind, that’s enough,” and it would have stopped like a spinning kite hitting the ground. That same magnificent power is exactly what’s behind our prayer lists, provided we pray over them.
Though Nate’s name has been removed from my list, many others are still there including you, blog reader. And until God stills the storms of earthly life, both literally and figuratively, he’ll make himself and his 60 mph power available to all of us… through prayer.
“When you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” (James 1:6)