As a church, we want to re-enroll in the school of prayer, and join the disciples in asking, “Lord, teach us to pray,” (Luke 11:1).
We want to challenge you as a disciple to join us in 21 days of praying for 21 minutes a day. For some, that’s a stretch. But we’re absolutely certain that it will be worth it. Is there any situation in which praying for 21 minutes a day would not be worth it for a disciple of Jesus? So, set aside some time. Set a timer if you need to. And let’s draw near to the throne of grace.
One daily strategy we want to recommend is to pray “directed” prayers. In other words, follow the lead of Scripture and God’s Spirit. Begin your prayer time each day with the Lord’s Prayer (or a psalm if you prefer), and use each line as a springboard or launching pad for your own praying. This old advice from many prayer veterans is incredibly helpful today.
Each day we also want to suggest a focus for church-wide prayer. Of course, we want you to pray as God leads you. And, of course, we want you to pray regularly for family members and other important situations. But here are several specific topics to focus on, day by day:
- Monday – Pray for gospel-centered discipleship in other church members’ lives. Pray for humility and holiness to characterize us. Pray that we would honor Christ in every part of life. Intercede for those who are suffering, struggling, or straying. Pray for depth and faithfulness in our walk with the Lord.
- Tuesday – Pray for gospel-centered discipleship in our ministries to one another. Pray especially for small groups to be very fruitful in building relationships and building up the body of Christ. Pray for transparency and vibrancy of faith in your own group, and for others. Pray for Spiritual gifts to flourish.
- Wednesday – Pray for gospel-centered discipleship to really take root in the next generation. Pray for parents who are doing the hard and important work of pointing kids to the Lord and His ways. Pray for the teenagers and young people in our church to become influencers for the Kingdom of God. Pray for long-term fruit.
- Thursday – Pray for the global mission of making disciples. From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible tells us that God has a vision for blessing people from every “tribe, language, people, and nation.” Cry out for disciple-making churches to be planted. Cry out for mission partners in various parts of the world. Cry out for people groups who have no mission partners serving them yet (consider using the Joshua Project website).
- Friday – Pray for the many needs in our community and nation. Pray for the important work of the Pregnancy Information Center, World Relief, and Wayside Cross. Pray for humility and wisdom for leaders “and all who are in high positions.” Pray for healthy, gospel-preaching churches to be planted, and revitalized, and flourishing. Pray for the agenda of God’s kingdom to abound “on earth as it is in heaven.”
- Saturday – Pray for your neighbors and your neighborhood. Pray for individuals by name; pray for their short-term and long-term needs. Since you are salt and light, ask God to lead you in how you can serve others in the name of Jesus. Pray for opportunities, for clarity of words, and for boldness to represent Christ.
- Sunday – Pray for our church as a worshipping community. Pray for our hearts to be drawn to God in praise and thanksgiving — not only on Sunday but every day of the week. Pray for the preaching of God’s Word to accomplish God’s purposes in our hearts. Pray for Spiritual renewal to begin in us, and to spread from us.
As we embark on this adventure, here are a few tips:
- Pray at a consistent time. Martin Luther recommended to his barber that he pray at least twice every day, at the beginning and end of the day. Strategies for time and place can vary. Sometimes it helps to change that strategy a little to keep things fresh. But choose a strategy. And build a habit by sticking with it.
- Pray as a child of God. Remember this: through faith in Jesus, today, God is your loving, gracious, and generous Father in heaven. In part, this means that if your mind wanders, or if you find prayer difficult, or if you wrestle with doubts, you do not need to conclude that you are a “failure.” You can draw near to the Lord again, confident that more than the most loving father on earth, He is eager to help you grow, and to give you the gift of His Spirit.
- Involve others. Talk about it at dinner. Ask about it at men’s and women’s groups. Include others honestly in your wrestling with devotion to prayer. And include others happily in how God has met you. Genuine prayer is not showy and boastful (Mat. 6:1-5); but it is also true that genuine prayer is part of life in community.