I don’t especially enjoy list praying. But I pray lists nonetheless. If I don’t, inevitably something or someone important falls through the cracks. And I don’t want to “sin against the LORD by failing to pray for [the people and concerns God has especially placed on my heart]” (1 Samuel 12:23).
So, especially on weekends when I have a little more time, I pray from a list. My list contains quite a few mainstays—the people and ministries I have committed to pray for. But the list also changes from week to week, depending on what special situations I am aware around the world and in my local church and community.
Anyway, I was praying from this list this past weekend. I got everything covered. But I felt as if I were merely going through the motions. Yes, I loved the people I prayed for. Yes, the matters I interceded about were important. But I felt nothing much except relief that I’d gotten it done.
I felt bad about not being more fervent. I felt as if I should apologize to God for my lack of passion. So I did. He responded by recalling to my mind Romans, 8:26-27:
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
Thank You, Sweet Spirit, I prayed. Thank You for taking the intentions of my heart and making them into prayers that are acceptable to the Father. Thank You that You don’t hold my weakness against me—instead, You condescend to help me. What a kind God You are.
And then, almost as a P.S., I thought of something I learned only recently. Some streams of the Christian faith have a term they use for specific intercession. They call it “special intention” or “prayers of intention.” How cool is that? God understands our intention—we want for Him to bring His good kingdom into the situations that concern us—but we can only intend. We can’t make any of it happen. In fact, we don’t even know how best to pray. But God sees our intentions. And He works even when our prayers are frail and feeble.