Most of us have some kind of hang-up around the prayer list. I say "most" of us because, well, there are folks like that nephew's ex-wife's new mother-in-law.
Whether we consciously think about it or not, something happens in our hearts when we read the prayer list that shapes the way that we think about prayer in general and the fellowship of believers.
If you're having trouble figuring out what that is in your own heart, ask yourself about the last time you wished you could ask others to be praying for you. Ask yourself about the last time that you thought about using the prayer list.
What were your criteria for whether or not you actually sent that message or made that phone call? Was it whether or not your request seemed "important" enough? Were you thinking about what others might be thinking about you when they read it? Were you considering whether it was something you wanted to become gossip in the church?
The way that we are personally willing to use - or not use - our church's prayer list for our own need reveals the sometimes subconscious feelings that we have about prayer. Not about the prayer list, but about prayer in general.
Is it just for the big stuff? For the little stuff? For the stuff that has pushed us so far that we don't care if there's gossip any more? Is it for when we're desperate?
You know what's interesting about that nephew's ex-wife's new mother-in-law? You know what makes her different from most of the rest of us?
She is someone who thinks prayer first.
That's why she's so quick to send requests. When anything happens in her life, prayer is her first response, and the fellowship of believers, a close second.
So what keeps you from doing the same? When you think about the prayer list and your reaction to the mere thought of using it for your own need, what does looking at your heart reveal to you?
Do you wonder if your request is "important" enough? Is it important enough to bring before God?
There's a dirty little secret buried in all of this that's worth talking about, that requires us to talk about it. So we will. Tomorrow.