Nearly everyone has some kind of list, certain words still for some of us written on paper with pen and ink, but for most stored on their cell phones, which remind us of items that need to be accomplished by us within the near future. The grocery list, items that need to be purchased for the house, birthday reminders, as they say, the list is endless. And to a degree it is, our memories, save for perhaps some of the very fewest of us, cannot retain and recall information of such an ongoing magnitude, we need lists, at least we think we do.
If you are like most who call Jesus Lord, you have a prayer list, but this list is different, this list has eternal value, this list contains the names and needs of people, of those we know and love, and of some of those we know only by association through others. In many cases, those needs may seem rather petty, and to tell the truth sometimes they are, for some things we are meant to go through so that we may learn to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord. But to those who are requesting those prayers, they are important, and that must always be kept in mind.
Sometimes though, in one sense, these lists are detrimental, they become a “go-to way,” if you please, to achieve a goal that does not truly benefit us, or even elicit a response from the Lord, and here is where religious organizations have learned one of the best deceits to keep people in bondage, the list of required prayers meant to appease the Most High. “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.” (Matt. 6:7) A certain set of words, spoken in a particular order, at a particular time, for a particular reason, but that reason is not to glorify God, it is not to lift up the name of Jesus Christ and worship Him as Lord, it is a magic charm. These words are not meant to honor the Lord, they are meant to ward off evil, they are based on superstitious beliefs, and they are a most excellent way to keep the masses in bondage.
The Roman Catholic cult has perfected this to a fine art, they are proficient at this form of manipulation, and their intent is to begin at a very young age with those that need to be kept in bondage, the list is long and well thought out. But are many Evangelical churches all that different?
They arrive at the door each Sunday morning, and as the service begins, if one has attended long enough, the routine is well learned, for it varies only in the message offered, and in the name behind the list of prayers requested, in fact, in many of these places, as you walk in the door, you will be handed not only a welcoming handshake, but a list, its usually called that morning’s bulletin. On it are the requirements, the order of the morning, and generally there is a prayer list, a request that some have asked that others be made aware of, so that they can offer prayers up for that individual for a specific need. In those churches, it is the manner in which we treat this list that matters.
Here then is the question for you, what of your list in this area, what of that list of prayers that you keep for yourself, those that perhaps a few of your closest confidants may know of but are most generally reserved for you by you. Have they become a rote routine, do you save them back for specific times and places, have they become nothing more than a list, a magic charm, a set of comforting words strung together meant to help you to feel better, or are they fervent prayers? “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” (James 5:16) Perhaps it’s time to take a closer look at that particular list.