Editor’s note: Jump into our online book club! We’re reading Jane Knuth’s The Prayer List…and Other True Stories of How Families Pray. This week we focus on chapters 16–18. Learn more about the book club here.
Dean, my husband, asked me if my prayer list wasn’t just another to-do list, and I said, “Of course not. At least, I hope not. Well…no. I’m sure it can’t be. The irony would be extreme.”
You see, my everyday to-do lists are what keep me focused on getting things done. They also give me purpose. If a thing is on my list in the morning and has a nice sharp line through it by five in the afternoon, then it is a sign that I had a productive day. I can look at my list of scratched-out tasks and proudly say to myself, “I did stuff. My life was worthwhile today. I am not lazy. There is less to do tomorrow because of all I did today. I deserve my keep and a nice bed.”
But my prayer list is another matter. My prayer list says this: “Take a moment to think about these people and situations. Lift their troubles or hopes up to God and rest them in his lap. Love them by focusing on their needs for a space of time, instead of on my needs. Then detach. The outcome is not mine to decide. Success, accomplishment, and finality are not part of prayer. Do not worry about something that has been given to God.”
Most of the time, I keep these two lists separate. But not always. The irony raises its amused head when I write “pray” on my to-do list.
Then, I laugh at myself. Laughter usually calms down irony.
The Prayer List Discussion Questions
- Is prayer something you do? Is it something you get done?
- Would you be the same person if you did not pray?
- Is your family defined by prayer in any way? How would your family be different if you did/didn’t pray together?
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