Every year, my family members and I make out our Christmas lists for each other. This year, the Lord spoke to my heart and told me to make out a Christmas list for HIM. At first, I was reluctant because I pray regularly for my needs and desires, and I didn't see any point in writing out a list of things to petition Him for. But as I meditated on the possibility, I knew in my heart that the Lord wanted me to document those things that I would like to see come to pass in my life, and in the lives of others. As I started making out my list, I thought of many things that I wanted for myself, and I hesitated to write them down because they seemed so selfish. Then the Holy Spirit brought to my remembrance Jesus' words in John 16:24 (TLB): "Ask, using My name, and you will receive, and your cup of JOY will overflow." So I began recording all the petitions I could think of that would bring me joy if God answered them. In no time at all, I had two full pages of requests. Now I am on my third page, and I know that my list is still not complete.
The Lord instructed me to not make vague requests, but to be as specific as I could. He reminded me of Paul's words in Philippians 4:6 (AMP): "Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [SPECIFIC] REQUESTS known to God." Many times, we are simply too lazy to pray for exactly what it is we want the Lord to do on our behalf, and then we wonder why our prayers go unanswered.
It's interesting that we find in the Scriptures numerous references of Jesus asking people who have approached him with an obvious need, "What do you want Me to do for you?" (Luke 18:41; Matthew 20:32; Mark 10:51) He surely must have known that the blind people crying out to him wanted their sight restored. Yet He did not act on their behalf until they told Him specifically what they wanted Him to do. God desires that we demonstrate humility and dependence upon Him by coming to Him personally with our requests. And when we ask for the tiniest thing, we are showing Him that we are not too proud to rely on Him for every little thing.
Notice Paul's instructions on prayer in the verse above - "by prayer and petition WITH THANKSGIVING." Many times our requests are not answered because we simply aren't thankful for the blessings that God has already given us. We waste time and energy complaining and feeling sorry for ourselves, instead of counting our blessings, and giving thanks for all the good in our lives. If you are a habitual complainer, I can tell you with certainty that you are not only making yourself a prime target for the devil, but you are also severely hindering your prayers. Don't blame God for not giving you the desires of your heart when you are pointedly ignoring all that He has already graciously given you. Only those who continually demonstrate an attitude of gratitude before the Lord and others will see answers to their prayers that will absolutely amaze them.
Don't overlook Paul's instructions to "CONTINUE to make your [specific] requests known to God." Many Christians have the attitude, "I prayed about that already. God knows what I want." And then they casually and carelessly go on about their daily business without renewing their petitions before the Lord. That may be fine in some cases, but many times, what we are praying for has the potential to do some serious harm to the kingdom of darkness, and Satan and his evil forces will come against us with some major resistance. That's when the Lord wants us to press in and press on until the answer comes. Scripture reveals that Jesus taught this powerful principle to His disciples when it records, "One day Jesus told His disciples a story to illustrate their need for constant prayer, and to show them that they must keep praying until the answer comes." (Luke 18:1 TLB)
If you think that you can keep your Christmas list for God in your head, you could be missing out on the fullness of His blessings this season. The Bible indicates that there can be some extraordinary benefits to writing our desires, dreams, and visions down. (Habakkuk 2:2) Perhaps you have not allowed yourself to think seriously about those things that are in your heart that you would love to see come to pass for yourself and others. I understand how you feel, but I am asking you to trust God enough to record even the most "secret petitions of your heart," and to take a leap of faith and believe that He longs to answer your requests "infinitely beyond [your] highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams]." (Psalm 37:4 AMP; Ephesians 3:20 AMP) Merry Christmas!
Prayer: Lord, teach me how to live a Christ-centered life. Remind me that as Your child, I have the privilege of asking You for the desires of my heart, as well as for my needs. Forgive me for grumbling and complaining, and for overlooking the blessings You have already given me. Open my eyes to all the good things in my life, and help me to focus on them from now on. Thank You that as I live my life with an attitude of gratitude, I will pave the way for You to work wonders in my heart, life, and circumstances!
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