By Chuck Lawless
I encourage you—even if you struggle with prayer—to keep reading this blogpost. I want to help you pray for your church during the next ten days.
Think for a minute about praying people in the Bible. Abraham prayed for a city (Gen. 18:20-33). Moses prayed for God’s people (Exod. 32:11-13). Joshua prayed for guidance (Josh. 7:1-26). Hannah prayed for a child (1 Sam. 1:1-20). Solomon prayed for wisdom (1 Kgs. 3:1-15). The prophets of God prayed, too (e.g., 1 Kgs. 18:36-39; Jer. 20:7-18).
The early church prayed fervently (Acts 1:14, 3:1, 4:31, 6:4, 10:9, 12:5, 13:3, 14:23, 16:25, 20:36, 28:8). The apostle Paul prayed for believers (e.g., Rom. 1:8, 1 Cor. 1:4). Jesus, of course, modeled a life of prayer (e.g., Matt. 26:36-46; Mark 1:35; Luke 4:42; John 17).
The point is basic: prayer matters, and God’s people must be a praying people.
Too often, though, we don’t pray until we have to – that is, until we face a situation we can’t handle on our own.
We come by this pattern honestly, as we have been taught to be “fixers.” Though unstated, our practical prayer philosophy is obvious: try hard, give it our best, and turn to God as a last resort rather than a first and only hope.
Simply stated, we evangelicals are often more “fixers” than pray-ers. And why not? We have it all—education, buildings, leaders, dollars, members, structures, programs, literature, experience, youth, training … except the obvious power of God on our work.
Where do we start, then, in correcting our prayer patterns? Too often, our strategy is to move from “prayer struggler” to “prayer warrior” quickly. We decide to get up every morning an hour earlier, use that hour for prayer, and then start the day. That’s a great plan as long as it lasts, but seldom does it last long. By the end of week one, discouragement has set in because we’ve failed . . . again.
Rather than take this approach, I encourage you to start simply and strategically. Find time each of the next ten days to pray these ways for your church. In fact, read this blogpost, and then send it to five of your church members to join you in this simple strategy:
Day 1 – Pray for your church staff and leaders. If you are the only staff member, pray for yourself and the other spiritual leaders (e.g., deacons, elders). Pray that all will be holy, passionate, and evangelistic.
Day 2 – Pray for your church’s small group leaders. Ask God to give them a caring heart, a teaching ability, and a prayerful spirit. Pray they will willingly reproduce themselves and multiply their groups.
Day 3 – Pray for the children in your church. Pray your church will give them such grounding in the gospel they will always think about Christian faithfulness when confronted with the world’s options. Ask God to raise up a next generation of missionaries from your children.
Day 4 – Pray for the students in your church. In particular, pray for those whose parents do not attend. Then, pray the students will be vibrant witnesses in their schools. Ask the Lord to give them strength in temptation.
Day 5 – Pray for the couples in your church. Lift them up by name, and pray for their marriages. Pray that each husband will love his wife as Christ loves the church (Eph. 5:25). Intercede especially for those couples you know are struggling.
Day 6 – Pray Ephesians 6:18-20 and Colossians 4:2-4 for ten leaders in your church. Ask God to give them boldness in sharing, clarity in message, and others ready to hear. A few members with a thirst for evangelism can spark an awakening.
Day 7 – Pray for new believers in your church. Ask the Lord to raise up disciplers for them. If your church does not have any new members, ask God to give your congregation a renewed heart for evangelism.
Day 8 – Pray for your church to be a Great Commission-minded church. Prayerfully consider committing to pray for an unreached people group around the world. If your congregation is already going to the nations, pray for more members to go.
Day 9 – Pray for more laborers in your church (Matt. 9:35-38). Jesus told us to pray that way, so be obedient to His command. You may find you seldom struggle in finding workers when you pray this way.
Day 10 – Pray for your church’s next Sunday service. Ask God to make Himself known in such a powerful way in response to your prayers that your members recognize a difference.
Let us know if you’re committing to pray this way. We’ll join you in praying.