Hear my words, O Lord. Think about my crying. Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God. For I pray to you. In the morning, O Lord, You will hear my voice. In the morning I will lay my prayers before You and will look up. [Psalm 5:1-3 (NLV)]
We thank God for you all the time and pray for you. [1 Thessalonians 1:2 (NLV)]
As I went through my prayer list this morning, I noticed that my prayers are very specific. I pray for those I know who are mourning, but they’re not the only ones dealing with loss. I pray for those I know who are sick and for my friends who are sitting at their loved one’s bedside, but they are not alone. Although I pray for a friend experiencing problems at work, another having financial difficulty, and a family in crisis, I know others must have the same problems. I pray for those I know who are struggling with addictions but can’t come close to naming all who need that prayer. I pray for my pastors and friends in the ministry but pastors (and congregations) everywhere need those same prayers. Unless I hear sirens, I don’t pray for first responders, but those firefighters and paramedics need my prayers more often than that. Some mornings I have enough trouble getting through my long prayer list, how can I add more to it? We’re told to offer prayers of intercession for all of God’s people, yet how can we do His work (or ours) if we spend all day in prayer? We’d be so heavenly minded that we’d be of no earthly use to anyone. Nevertheless, it’s not just my list of people who need my prayers. I suppose I could cover everyone else with a quick “God bless the world and everyone in it,” but that doesn’t seem heartfelt to me.
I thought of a friend who reads a chapter of Proverbs every day of the month. With thirty-one chapters, he finds it a good spiritual discipline. It occurred to me that I could do much the same thing with intercession. While I continue to pray for the unique needs of the people named on my prayer list, every day I could earnestly offer a general prayer for a different specific need.
It wouldn’t be hard to come up with a list of thirty-one intercessory topics, one for each day of the month. Off the top of my head I came up with the following: (1) government officials and their staff; (2) judges, juries and courts; (3) members of all branches of the military; (4) military families, veterans and wounded warriors; (5) law enforcement officers; (6) those who mourn or are in despair; (7) pastors and lay ministers; (8) churches, their members, and the expansion of God’s Kingdom; (9) missionaries and those who serve in developing nations; (10) the brutalized, oppressed, and persecuted; (11) the disabled and those with special needs; (12) businesses, bosses, and the nation’s economy; (13) our labor force and the conditions in which they work; (14) refugees and relief workers; (15) physicians, health care workers, and caregivers; (16) the destitute, those in financial difficulties, and the unemployed; (17) the environment, those who work to protect it, and the conservation of resources; (18) prisoners, their families and guards; (19) the ill, hospitalized, terminally ill, and their families; (20) students, teachers, school administrators, and school curriculum; (21) those damaged souls filled with anger, hate, violence, intolerance and prejudice; (22) the homeless and marginalized in our society; (23) the lonely, depressed and mentally ill; (24) those struggling with addictions; (25) the media and all who influence public opinion; (26) the family unit; (27) children; (28) charitable organizations, their supporters and volunteers; (29) fire fighters and EMTs; (30) Israel and other nations, both ally and enemy; and (31) peace within our borders and among all nations. That’s just my list and I’m sure it will be revised as the months progress. I’ve written that list in my prayer request book and plan on tackling a different concern each day of the month. I’ll be offering thanks and, depending on for whom I’m praying, plead for things like healing, wisdom, strength, skill, justice, truth, courage, compassion, comfort, safety, or protection. Adding one more prayer each day is feasible and lifting the concerns of others to God, even people I don’t know, is more than an obligation; it is an honor and a privilege.