My prayer list started almost thirty years ago, when the United Methodist Clergy in my state were asked to make a list of twenty names of colleagues and pray for them. That became my Sunday morning prayer list. Many names have come and gone through the years. Some have joined the “great cloud of witnesses”* the author of the book of Hebrews speaks of. Others have been added along the way. Some were bumped to make my list more manageable. A few have been on that Sunday morning list, since it was created.
In all that time, I have never told anyone about the people on my prayer list. The list has been modified in the past year to a daily list. I was thinking one day how the people on that list have no idea they are being prayed for by me. Then I started to think about the people who prayed me through the crisis times in my life. When my two youngest children were hospitalized in their infancy, I turned to our prayer chain at the church. Later, I asked specific people to pray for me during times of difficulty. At each church I served, I would mention in a newsletter article, how I coveted the prayers of the community of faith. Months later, I would make a hospital call, and find the person I was calling on mention, she or he was praying for me. When a need in a church arose that I could not share with the church, I would go to the Upper Room Living Prayer Center and make a request there.** I will never know the people who took the time to pray for those needs.
I think on that great day of reunion in heaven, when we all gather together. We will be surprised by whom it is that has been praying for us during the various seasons of our lives. I suspect, we will be humbled by the prayers of people we found no time for. We will be surprised by the concern of others we had no perception cared about us, and find joy in the loving prayers of good friends.
When a face comes into your mind, a person slips into your thoughts and you do not know why – then, it would be a good time to say a prayer, knowing that God has need of you and the prayers you have been given to pray.
*The writer of the Book of Hebrews, after giving examples of people of faith recorded in the scriptures writes, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2
**The Upper Room Living Prayer Center is a part of The Upper Room, an interdenominational ministry connected with The United Methodist Church’s General Board of Discipleship. http://prayer-center.upperroom.org/request-prayer