I keep lists. They help me keep my thoughts in order.
This is even true for my prayer life -- especially where I have decided I'm going to intercede regularly for someone in prayer. It might be for a specific need that will eventually get checked off the list, or it might be for my family members in all the general and specific ways we pray for family members. But they're on "the list."
I keep my list on my smart phone, and I just went and counted how many people are on it. As of right now, it has 198 people on it. I had no clue.
Let me be the first to say: That's just weird! I mean, did your mom ever tell you at the dinner table that "Your eyes are bigger than your stomach"? I still tend to put too much on my plate. And apparently my heart is bigger than my head, because I tend to put too much on my prayer list!
But it all comes from a genuine place. I mean, if a person is on my prayer list, it means that at some point my heart said, "Pray regularly for this person!" so I wrote them down. And several days a week now, I spend time praying through that list.
But 198 people is a lot! And my head can't really get around that, so it tends to just go right through it, if you know what I mean. What I've noticed is that, in those moments when I could spend time praying to God "with fervent cries and tears," I tend to just pray through my prayer list, and that's different. I mean it, but I don't often cry over it.
This morning I found Jesus's prayer list. I read Hebrews 5:7, "During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission."
Do you see Jesus's prayer list? Yeah, me neither! I really don't think Jesus kept a list! But I'm sure he kept a heart, and then he prayed that heart fervently.
So, today I'm doing two things:
We are a "praying church." We have many who say their daily prayers. They pray for missionaries, and family members, and even me. And man, that's wonderful. But today I am encouraging us all to turn our prayer lists into care lists, and then spend time in heartfelt prayer for the things that the Spirit has put on our hearts each day.
If you had ten minutes of God's undivided attention today, what would you cry fervently to him about?