Most people I know (myself included) keep their basements and attics well stocked with things they don’t use. We’re all convinced the hodge-podge of stuff in plastic bins will come in handy at some point. In reality, we’re usually just offering these items a free timeshare before their trip to the landfill. Remember the universal law of home storage: regardless of how long an item sits in your basement, it will only become useful to you the day after it’s been thrown away.
Similarly, there’s a small collection of emails in the “basement” of my inbox which I save for reference. One recurring email from my chapel comes every few days with the subject line, “Prayer Updates,” and I keep it in my inbox as a reminder to pray for the fellow Christians it details. Unfortunately, it can also serve as a prompt to feel guilty for not doing just that. To help keep these requests in mind, sometimes I forward “Prayer Updates” to myself so it will be at the top of my list. Sometimes I change the subject line, or I put a little colored flag next to it in an attempt to make it stand out. Yet, it’s amazing how quickly I can still skip past that email as I attend to countless other messages from work and friends. It’s surprising how quickly my focus can get diverted with the arrival of a new “free-shipping-today-only” subject line. It’s sad how carelessly I can whisper a blanket prayer to cover all those in need as I hurriedly click by again.
The Lord certainly acknowledges my sometimes quick and indistinct prayers, but I wonder how effective they really are. Recently I heard it said that vague prayer may be compared to a soldier engaging targets by randomly firing shots in the air. Some bullets will find their mark, but ultimately it’s a weak strategy that’s not likely to yield striking results.
All this makes me wonder how often we as Christians fail to take precise aim–or even pull the trigger–in our prayer lives? Are specific prayer requests successfully making it out of our “storage areas” and being put on active duty? Or do we shelve them in a bin labeled “good intentions,” only to forget about them, or throw them away before they get a chance to be useful?
Ephesians 6:18 — And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
– Ron Reid