I've had occasions to be at 4 different churches in the past month within a 30 mile radius of my home church and I found a common denominator in each of these churches...a prayer list in the bulletins. To my surprise and pleasure, I found some of the same names on these prayer lists at each of the different churches. I really shouldn't be too surprised as we are in a rural area and there are a lot of ties that go beyond local communities. Still, I was awed by each church listing the names of those needing prayer in their bulletins.
I have made it a habit of asking a congregation if they pray for each individual by name every day when saying their prayers. To my astonishment, nearly half of the people I ask do, literally, pray for each individual by name every day. They keep their Sunday bulletin with their bibles and bring it out when it's time for prayer.
The joy that comes on Sunday morning when asking for praises and concerns is in the dynamics of people saying, "You can take 'such and such' off the prayer list - she's better". It isn't uncommon for our church to erupt in applause along with "Praise God" when we remove someone from the list.
I'm especially moved by a healing I've seen take place in one individual who's name is on multiple churches' prayer lists. He has been lifted up in prayer, daily, by at least 500 people that I can surmise, although it may be even more. I've witnessed his change from a feeble, cancer-stricken 80 year old shadow of a man, to a strong, healed warrior for Christ. When I saw him at a funeral yesterday, he shook my hand. It was with such power that I thought I was shaking hands with a lumberjack...and the sparkle in his eyes was like a reflection of heaven. I shared with him that I'd seen his name on numerous prayer lists in a couple of counties and he said that he felt the prayers of everyone, and that God has made him a humble, grateful person in the process. Awesome!
Something I have trouble understanding is this: The bigger the church, the smaller the prayer list. The church the next town away has about 300 members and only 10 people on their list. Our church with 35 attending members, has roughly 50 people on our list. Likewise at the other small churches I've visited recently.
It truly is an awesome experience to see and share with others the power of intercessory prayer. It's 7:21 AM and my wife has the bible, the Upper Room, and the bulletin. She just asked, "Ready for devotional?" Time to pray and lift up the names of those we know of who need all the prayer they can get. Please pray for someone today.