It is one of my peeves. And it seems to be one of the most difficult habits to break church members of. I am referring to the common pracactice of praying the sick list. For some reason it is difficult to get even seasoned Christians to pray for much else.
David Powlison takes up this issue in an article published in ByFaith Magazine. Powlison writes:
Why don’t people pray beyond the sick list? We want circumstances to improve so that we might feel better and life might get better. These are often honest and good prayers—unless they’re the only requests. Unhinged from the purposes of sanctification and from groaning for the coming of the King, prayers for circumstances become self-centered.
[T]he majority of prayers in the Bible focus on other things. As shorthand, here are three emphases of biblical prayer:
1. Circumstantial Prayers
Sometimes we ask God to change our circumstances—heal the sick, give us daily bread, protect us from suffering and evildoers, make our political leaders just, convert our friends and family, make our work and ministries prosper, provide us with a spouse, quiet this dangerous storm, send us rain, give us a child.
2. Wisdom Prayers
Sometimes we ask God to change us—deepen our faith, teach us to love each other, forgive our sins, make us wise where we tend to be foolish, help us know You better, give us understanding of Scripture, teach us how to encourage others.
3. Kingdom Prayers
Sometimes we ask God to change everything by revealing Himself more fully on the stage of real life, magnifying the degree to which His glory and rule are obvious—Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven, be exalted above the heavens, let Your glory be over all of the earth, let Your glory fill the earth as the waters cover the sea, come Lord Jesus.
They are tightly interwoven when we pray rightly. When any of these three strands of prayer gets detached from the other two, prayer tends to go sour.
To read Powlison’s insights click: Praying Beyond the Sick List.