Make a List!
By Marcus Vernier
Recently a friend emailed me asking for prayer. They had need of a new apartment after having moved to a new city. I thought I’d share a tip with them that I had learned when I was in a similar position a few years ago: Make a list! That was my suggestion. Enter on that list every conceivable thing you can think of regarding your desired housing, listing all the things you want and even don't want. Be specific.
Make the list and pray over it, either item by item or a general prayer over everything.
I remember the first time I did this, about ten years ago. I was in turmoil at that time, mentally, physically, and spiritually. The following day my youngest son was to be married. He and his fiancé had booked a church, arranged a cleric, and invited a small army of friends and well-wishers. My wife and I were caught up in this flurry of excitement as thoughts turned to details of things to be done. It was great having all this excitement—it was in the air, of course—but for me worry and negativity soon kicked in. The worrisome side threatened to mar the joy that such an occasion should bring. I thought about all the practical details, how everything was going to pan out, and what about this and what about that?
Very early on the morning of the wedding day, after a nearly sleepless night, I had a revelation: Make a list! Make a prayer list! I wrote down everything I could think of about the wedding, every aspect that I could figure, every need—even every worry, you could say. I then prayed over each entry on the list. It didn’t take long, but in those few minutes a lot was accomplished in the spiritual realm. I’m sure each of these requests was safely in the charge of Jesus and His holy angels. I had such peace afterwards that it was now all in Jesus’ hands to take care of, while I just did the “little” that He showed me to do. (And the wedding went very well! It was an inspiration for them and for everybody.)
Since that day I have done this on numerous occasions. If there was something big coming up, I’d make a list. For example, an outreach event, a special meeting with a good friend, prayer over a sick loved one, intercession for someone in difficulty, a national crisis, fear of unemployment, supply of a need, etc. We know we need to pray, and we do, but a list can help to focus on what to pray for. I’ve found that putting pen to paper, or stylus to smartphone, encourages a helpful link to the divine in quickening inspiration of what to pray for.
I’m reminded of the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus was asked by His disciples, “Lord, teach us to pray.” His response, one could say, was a list. He offered them guidance, in the way of a list.
Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.”1
Answers to prayer are beautiful and reflect so well our Savior’s love and care for us all. When I find peace after delivering my soul’s request to the Lord, and then see how He answers according to His plan, it never ceases to amaze me. I’m glad I learned the lesson of putting everything down on paper. Not making a list can leave us, well, listless. But itemizing those requests can ensure everything is covered. “All things should be done decently and in order,” the Bible says. Somehow externalizing the proposed list, rather than keeping it “in our heads,” especially for something big and important, ensures we are diligent in our requests and not forgetting anything. We’re more likely to cover all the bases.
I haven’t heard back yet from my friends searching for their apartment. But I know it’s going to go well for them. I know that every prayer is heard and answered, as the Lord knows is best.
PS. I have just heard back, and the Lord supplied a very quiet place, near some beautiful mountains. They had specifically asked for a quiet place, as their former place was very noisy. The Lord did it again!