By now, most of the Christmas presents have been lovingly purchased and carefully wrapped. Some have been mailed to friends and family who live far away.

But it all started with a list. You wanted to get the right gifts, so you carefully wrote a list, making sure to match each person with the right present. It was a giving list—based solely on the desire to give to those you love.

It’s good that we do that, because it’s so easy for us to fall into the trap of making lists of what we want to receive rather than what we can give.

Unfortunately, this happens all too often in our prayer life. There are so many times when we need God’s help that we tend to make a prayer list that is like a child’s list of stuff he wants for Christmas.

To avoid being one-sided in our praying, perhaps it would be helpful to keep two kinds of prayer lists: the needs list in which we bring our problems to the Lord, and the giving list in which we offer our praise to the Lord. Psalm 16 includes items for which we can praise God under all circumstances: His protection (vv.1,8), His goodness (v.2), His care (vv.5-6), His counsel (v.7).

In prayer, as in all of life, we need a giving list. And first on the list is praise to God.