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HOW TO MAKE A PRAYER LIST

by Dr. Christopher L. Cagan

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, July 7, 2019

“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Ephesians 6:18).


Our text says “all” or “always” four times. It says, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Ephesians 6:18). That sounds like a lot to do. It is a lot to do. How can you do that, or anything like it?

The verse says, “Praying always.” Do you have to pray all the time? No, you don’t have to pray all the time. You can’t. Nobody can. You have to sleep. You have to eat. You have to work. You have to study. So what does the verse mean? It means that prayer is an important part of the Christian life, and you should take time to do it.

The verse says, “With all prayer and supplication in the Spirit.” You should try to pray with your heart, not just saying words, but really asking God for what you want.

Then the verse says, “With all perseverance.” “Perseverance” means that you keep on praying until the answer comes.

Finally, the text says, “For all saints.” In the Bible, a “saint” just means “a Christian.” How can you pray for all the Christians in the world? You don’t know who they are. But you can still pray.

The text says, “always,” “all,” “all,” “all.” That means that prayer should be a big part of your Christian life. It isn’t something you leave out, or tack on for a minute or two. Make it a real and serious part of your life.

The Bible tells you to pray with supplication. Put your heart into your prayer. The Bible tells you to pray with perseverance. Keep on praying until God gives the answer.

When you start praying, or even think about praying, you can feel overwhelmed. There are so many requests, so many needs, so many people that need your prayer. You may think that you could pray for an hour, or all day, and still not cover everything. You’re right. There is no end to prayer. Sometimes I begin my prayer time by saying, “Lord, there are so many things to pray for.”

How can you pray every day for the things you need to pray for – without forgetting something? It’s easy to forget, whether you have been a Christian for a month or for many years, whether your prayer time is long or short. Make a prayer list! Use your prayer list!

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What is a prayer list? That’s simple. A prayer list is a list of things you pray for. You write the list on a piece of paper. In your prayer time each day, go through the list and pray for those things. Now let me ask you a question. Do you have a prayer list? If you don’t, why don’t you start one?

Why should you have a prayer list? It will help you to organize your thoughts and prayers. Most important, it will help you not to forget! In the rush of life, with so many things going on, it’s easy to forget to pray for something. I’ve done it myself, and so have you. If you use a prayer list, you won’t forget, because the prayers are written on the paper. This reason alone makes using a prayer list worthwhile. Write down the important things to pray for. Then look over the list again. Look at it later that day, and every day. You will be surprised at what you forgot. Add that prayer to the list. Keeping a prayer list will help you not to forget again.

A prayer list will help you to pray with honesty and care. Today it’s easy for Christians to say, “I’m praying for you.” “I’ll pray for you.” But are you praying? Did you pray? Or do you forget? If you do pray, do you just say a few words quickly and then forget? Sometimes “I’ll pray for you” can be empty words like “Have a nice day” – and that’s all. That isn’t real prayer. It isn’t really praying for someone. That is not honest prayer.

A prayer list will build your faith! It will bless you. Look at your list once each day. When God answers a prayer, cross that prayer off the list, and next to it write the date that God gave the answer. If God answers a prayer today, draw a line through that prayer on your list and next to it write, “Answered July 7, 2019.”

Don’t throw out the old pages. Don’t throw out the list of things you prayed for in the past. Keep the papers with the old requests. Look them over from time to time. That will encourage you. It will build your faith. When you see how many prayers God has answered, it will increase your faith that He will answer you again. Why not buy a notebook or a binder? Be sure it has lots of lined paper. When you have a new request, put it at the end of the list with the day you first prayed for it. When a prayer is answered, cross it off the list. You will be amazed when you see how many times God has answered you.

What prayers should be on your list? Why, the important things that you want to pray for! Those prayers may be different for different people, or for different things you need as time goes by. But there are some prayers that should always be on your list.

First, pray for the needs of our local church. The local church is the body of Christ. The Bible says, “The church, which is his body” (Ephesians 1:22, 23). Pray for His body, the church! The most important thing to pray for right now is that this building be sold soon, at a good price. We need this building to be sold so we can pay for our new building in the San Gabriel Valley. Fast and pray on Fridays for this need. I know most of you are doing that, and God bless you for it. But don’t just pray for that on Friday, or in our prayer meeting on Wednesday night. Put it on your prayer list, and pray for it every day until God gives the answer.

There are other things the church needs. We prayed for a pianist. God answered and gave us Mrs. Song. That was an answer to prayer. Pray for God to bless and watch over the services for the coming week. Pray for God to help us write the sermons and preach them. Pray that they will help the people who hear them. Pray for God to protect our church from Satan and his demons. Jesus told us to pray, “Deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13). The Bible says, “Your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (I Peter 5:8). Yes, pray for God to protect us from the Devil’s attacks.

Pray for people to be converted. You know some people who have not trusted Christ. Some of them have come to church for a few weeks or months. You may have relatives or other people you know who are not saved. Pray for them. You may have to pray for months or years, but keep on praying. Then you will rejoice when the answer comes!

Pray for other Christians. They have needs. They have requests. If someone asks you to pray for him, why not? Or if you say, “I’ll pray for you,” why not do it?

Pray for yourself – for what you need. Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). Don’t think you can only pray for “spiritual” things. Christ Himself told you to pray for what you need each day.

Pray for our president. This is not a political statement. The Apostle Paul said, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority” (I Timothy 2:1, 2). That is not politics, it is Bible! Pray for God to give our president wisdom and guide him in the right way. Pray that he won’t be assassinated, for there are wicked people in this world who would kill him if they could.

You may think, “How can I pray for the president if he’s not a Christian, if he’s not a converted man?” The Bible does not say to pray for leaders if they’re Christians. It says to pray “for all that are in authority,” whoever they are. When the Apostle Paul wrote that, was the Roman Emperor a born again Christian? Was he at least a moral and honest man? No, the Emperor was Nero, one of the most evil and debauched men in history, who burned Christians alive on torches in his garden. It was Nero who had Peter crucified upside down. It was Nero who had the Apostle Paul beheaded. And yet Paul commanded the Christians to pray for him! Yes, in this country, pray for our president, whoever he is.

Pray for our Internet mission! These sermons go out in manuscript form in 42 languages to 221 countries of the world. People have been saved through them. Over and over we get emails from pastors who preach the sermons in their own languages. I don’t know of any other website like this. I don’t know of any ministry like this. This is our mission. Pray for it!

Pray for the work of Christ in other lands. Pray for Christians in prison. Pray for Christians under persecution in China and in Muslim countries. You don’t know them, but they are your brothers and sisters. If your brother or sister was in prison for Christ, you’d pray. Why not pray for them?

Pray for your pastors. The Apostle Paul asked for prayer “for me [Paul], that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel” (Ephesians 6:19). Pray for Dr. Hymers. Pray for him as he writes his sermons, and as he preaches them. Pray for God to give him health and strength. Pray for him as he prepares us to move to our new building. Pray for God to guide him to start the new church in the San Gabriel Valley. And pray for me as well. I need your prayers too.

I have given you eight points to pray for. Let them be your list. Take this manuscript home with you. Those eight things are in bold italics (dark slanted letters). Write them down one after the other on lined paper. Pray for each of them every day. You can pray for other things, but be sure to pray for these. When God gives the answer, write that down on your list with the day He gave the answer.

Don’t make your list longer than you can handle. You could pray all day if you had the time, but you don’t. Just thinking of these eight things will lead you to think of details and specific points to pray for. And you will think of other things to pray for. It is fine to pray for more than what I have said, and to take more time – if you can. But don’t put a weight on yourself that you can’t carry. If you do, you will be tempted to give up completely.

It is better to pray for eight things – or less – than to have a list of 20 or 30 things that you don’t have time to pray for. Having a long list doesn’t mean you’re a better Christian. If you can’t cover your list each day in the time you have, the list is too long. There are too many things on your list. If your list is too long, you may feel like a failure. You may think that prayer is too much for you. You may feel like giving up on prayer. It’s better to have a short list and follow it than to have a long list that you can’t cover. Some of you are new Christians. You pray for 10 or 15 minutes a day. Just make a short list that you can pray for in that time.

It is better to have a short list that you can pray for meaningfully, than a long list where you quickly run through one thing after another, saying words without thinking about what you pray for, or really asking God to answer you. If you crank through the words, “God bless this one. God bless that one. God, do this. Do that. In Jesus’ name, Amen,” then you are not really praying. Either you are backslidden or your list is too long. It is better to pray for one or two things seriously than to pray for ten things by cranking out a list of words without thinking.

When you pray, remember what you have learned about how to pray. Think about what you are asking. Turn to God and pray to Him. Use God’s promises in Scripture. If God promised something, He will do it. Tell God about what He has done in the past. He knows it, but this will increase your faith as you pray. Be sure to pray in Jesus’ name. He is the One who died and gave His Blood for our sin. Through Jesus – and in no other way – we have access to God. Because of Jesus, we can go into the presence of God in prayer, because His Blood covers our sin.

Put your heart into your prayer. Put your mind and effort and energy into it. Pray with supplication, begging God and pleading with Him to give you what you ask. Some of the time, pray with fasting. Don’t be afraid to pray with feeling. I’m not talking about forcing yourself to shout or cry. But if you think about what you are praying for, if you really want it, if you see and feel your need, you may well pray with feeling. You don’t have to cry in every prayer. You don’t have to have deep emotions. But do think about what you’re saying, and pray with meaning. Put yourself into it. That is real prayer.

I hope these points will be a help to you. But some of you here tonight need something deeper than a prayer list. You have not trusted Christ. You have rejected Him again and again. You have neglected Him, as you walk away. Though Jesus has shed His Blood for your sin, you pay no attention to Him. You go on to other things. You treat Christ like He was not important. And still your record of sin hangs over you. You are not ready to meet God. God is angry with your sin. He looks down and sees you with your sin, not covered by the Blood of Christ. Only Jesus can save you. If you trust Him, He will forgive your sin. If you would like to speak with us about trusting Jesus, please come and stand at the front of the room now. Amen.