Why I Make Prayer Lists
Good morning! Let me start from the beginning and introduce myself briefly: I’m Amy. I’m a normal mom who happens to have lots of kids. I don’t drive a church van or excel at intentional family devotions or make my own bread from scratch. And while we’re laying it all out there—every now and then, I skip church all together, because I feel like I’ll actually die if I have to get them all dressed up! Or worse yet—sometimes (usually about 4 pm) I run into my bedroom and mutter cuss words under my breath, because I’ve heard 115 arguments over whose gum it is and whether or not so-and-so is singing just to bother whoever. Just so we’re being clear, here; being a perfect Christian or mom isn’t how God gifted me.
I preface things this way because I want to make sure we both understand that what I’m about to say has nothing at all to do with how I get things right. This post has everything to do with how right and generous God is, and how He answers us even though we aren’t perfect.
If you’ve been following along for a few months, you know that we started having financial challenges last fall when several life circumstances all surprised us at once. Suddenly, we were racing through our reserves at lightning speed. For the first time in forever, our family was in a spot where we were pretty sure we couldn’t make things like birthday or Christmas gifts happen. In fact, we were crossing our fingers that we could pay our bills!
So when the kids wanted to open our home to a second exchange student, my immediate thought was NOPE. From my perspective, we had no more room, no more beds, and no more money for anybody else. But for some crazy reason, I suggested the family have a meeting and take a vote. Ummm, for future reference…this proved not to be the best way to ensure my agenda. My entire family (including Joel, who is quite possibly the biggest nay-sayer in the universe in every other situation) voted yes to having another student! And she would be moving to our home in a couple weeks. Wowza. I knew that meant I better do something about re-doing Lucy’s bedroom to make room; I needed lots of different furniture and I had zero funds to buy it with. Awesome.
Since I didn’t know what else to do, I sat down with Lucy to make a list of what her room would need in order to accommodate another person. I asked her for her best-case scenario—not bare bones—and we came up with a list. Twin beds and mattresses and linens (yikes! 😳 I knew that would be expensive), a desk and chair, a dresser, curtains for privacy when changing, and cushions for her window seat. The list, at first glance, felt like the least feasible situation I could imagine! So we prayed.
And I won’t get into all the details, but one by one, each of the items on our list started appearing!!! First my aunt gave us the twin beds out of one of her guest bedrooms, and a gorgeous antique desk from her garage, and so on and so forth until we had a whole new room!!! In less than a week, God had provided EVERY SINGLE item on our list, and the only thing we had to buy was a pack of hangers for our new student’s closet.
I wonder what holds us back from going to God with all of our needs? I think for me, there are several reasons. I don’t feel like I have a right to ask Him many times, and I don’t want to address the sin that makes me so “undeserving.” But even more than that, I’m so accustomed to meeting my own needs that I forget Who provided for them to be met. If I need food, I stop by the store. If I need gas, I drive to the gas station. I forget that God is the ultimate Giver of the resources to pay for food and gas and all our other temporal needs.
This example of how He so tangibly provided for us has given me a roadmap for the prayer lists I now make monthly.
1. I pray for our specific physical needs that month. (ex: please provide a desk and computer for blogging, a car that seats all of us, etc.)
2. I pray for His guidance in specific, upcoming decisions we will face that month. (ex: should we all go to the state swim meet or some stay home? Please provide an idea and a plan for a new digital product for the blog, etc.)
3. I pray for opportunities to serve/be helpful to others outside of our household. (ex: Help us be hospitable to the kids’ friends twice this month, please increase this certain small business’s revenue by 20% this month, etc.) Must admit this one is usually half-hearted at best, because I’m super selfish! Interestingly, it’s also the one that’s the easiest to see Him answer and He answers it more abundantly—go figure!
4. I pray for a chance to spend one on one time with a specific child that month. This one is pretty self-explanatory, but I’m so thankful that He provides those times. And when they happen, I’m able to see them as an answer to this prayer when otherwise they might seem like interruptions to whatever else I was doing.
5. I pray for specific opportunities to connect with my husband. (ex: Please provide child care for one Friday night this month, please provide $10 extra for a Tuesday night movie date, etc.)
Sometimes these prayers are huge and sometimes they’re not. But they’re always specific and written down on paper and stuffed in my prayer journal, so I see them every day. That way at the end of the month, I can visibly see how He has answered me. Without exception, the answers are measurable and real, whether they are a yes or no. And so far, the only NOs are situations that, when I look back, I feel soooooo relieved that God answered that way. Because hindsight is 20/20 for us, but He doesn’t need hindsight! I’m not saying we will always immediately understand why He says no to certain things, but I do think that more often than not, we see it pretty clearly and pretty quickly when things are written down.
Does this list seem doable to you? Are there 5 specific things you could write down and pray about this coming month? I would LOVE it if you shared your 5 things with the rest of us in the comments, and then we can all share how amazing His answers are at the end of February! Nothing boosts faith more than seeing God at work in real, specific, practical ways. Ask the Giver and see what He provides!!!