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What Your Prayer List Says About You

Prayer must surpass a sick list if we are going to be disciple makers.

I believe our prayer life can be like looking in the mirror of our Christian life. Consider this: if every prayer that you uttered over the past thirty days were written down, what would be the content of those prayers? What would your mirror look like? How many of those prayers would be for those with an infirmity of some kind?

It is quite common for churches to have a formatted and published prayer list. In my experience, the vast majority (if not all) of those lists contain individuals within the church who are having (or had) surgery, have an injury, or have serious disease. We have good reason to petition for those who need physical healing; God is our ultimate physician and Scripture does speak to it (James 5:13-16; 3 John 1:2, Phil 4:6). However, in recent weeks I have personally been challenged in my faith regarding my own prayer life. I am not proposing we stop praying for the sick, but to be faithful, our prayer lives must go far beyond just praying for the sick.

Recently I read through the book of Revelation, and as confusing and strange as the book can seem, there is one message it proclaims over and over very clearly: the world is full of brokenness and evil, but even the best weapons of an evil world cannot take away the victory we have in Jesus.


“The world is full of brokenness and evil, but even the best weapons of an evil world cannot take away the victory we have in Jesus.”


In our daily walk, we must hang on to the words of Jesus. As he explains, in this world we will have trouble, but we must take heart, for he has overcome the world (John 16:33)! God has prepared a place where there is no more pain, mourning, sickness, or death for all those who believe. Our hope rests in God’s promise, and that doesn’t include ongoing physical well-being this side of heaven.

God has reminded me that death is not the worst thing that can happen to a believer. As tragic as many deaths can be, and as much as I miss the loved ones missing from my life, death is not the ultimate enemy for the believer. We must never forget that Jesus hasn’t just defeated sin, he has also defeated death. But do I, do we, really believe that? As in, am I willing to stake life on it? In the same way that when I sit down to rest in a chair, trusting that it will hold me, can I sit down on the doctrine of the resurrection and rest in the truth that, for those who believe in Jesus, they will live even though they physically die (John 11:25-26)? There have been times that my prayer life has shown that I have not.

There is certainly a positive aspect to the church excelling at praying for the sick and injured. It displays our belief that God has the power to heal. There is only so much medical physicians can do and we can trust God to bring real healing to people. But when we rely only on God’s power to heal people, we are missing out on all that God has to offer.


“When we rely only on God’s power to heal people, we are missing out on all that God has to offer.”


So what should our prayer life consist of? Dallas Willard has said, “Prayer is talking with God about what we are doing together.” What are you doing in your daily life that you need to talk to God about? There are people in our lives that desperately need God’s physical healing, and we should pray for them. But we have been called to live a God-given, mission-centered life. If we are being faithful in that every day, we are going to have something to talk to God about because we need God’s power to be faithful to the mission we have been called to.

Yet I have frequently heard responses from church members such as “that just isn’t me.” In other words, people who are a part of Christ’s church are believing that their skills and personality are not such that they are able to be faithful to what God has commissioned the church to do. I don’t think it is an accident that within the Great Commission Jesus promised to be with us as we were obedient to that mission (Matt. 28:20).

It is also no accident that in Acts 1 Jesus told his disciples to wait before getting to work because they required the Spirit to come and give them the power they needed (Acts 1:4, 8).


“It is no accident that in Acts 1 Jesus told his disciples to wait before getting to work because they required the Spirit to come and give them the power they needed.”


What does it say about areas of our Christian life if we do not bring them to God in prayer? Perhaps part of the reason we are strong in praying for the sick is we know we need God’s power to bring the healing, but part of the reason we are weak in praying for our daily walk is we don’t need God’s power to live as we currently are. In other words, if we are not praying for opportunities to be disciple makers (Col. 4:2-6) or praying for boldness in our faithfulness (Acts 4:29-30, 2 Tim. 1:7-8), perhaps it is because we have no intention of fulfilling the Great Commission in our daily lives.

Please hear me say this humbly. This is my conviction I share with you. There has been unfaithfulness in me in these areas I have recently had to repent of. I have had to learn that, left to my own skill and personality, I am not able to effectively make disciples (in fact, I probably won’t even try). I have also been overwhelmingly reminded that God has given me his Spirit to work in me so I can be faithful to what he has called me.


“If we are not praying for opportunities to be disciple makers or praying for boldness in our faithfulness, perhaps it is because we have no intention of fulfilling the Great Commission in our daily lives.”


Lastly, let’s not forget that our Lord taught us how to pray, and at the center of that teaching is to pray, God, I want your kingdom to come, and your will to be done, right here on earth as it is in heaven (Matt. 6:10). That’s a prayer that says, God, not my will, but your will be done in my life (Luke 22:42).

May our prayer lives be a reflection of God’s will being done in our lives so that we may be empowered by His Spirit to fulfill his Great Commission.

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