Every night I hear a spunky little girl pray her guts out, and every night without fail she ends her conversation with God with the same passionate request.
“God, and please let everyone in the whole world love and worship You.”
You guys, that line gets me every time. Why? Because she’s not only praying for the scrape on her knee to get better (though what a privilege it is to take even the smallest requests to our compassionate Father). Her heart is set on a world beyond herself – a lost world that desperately needs a Savior.
As the gospel’s most zealous missionary and the author of much of the New Testament, the apostle Paul rises to the top as a great hero of the faith. But he also knew his human limits.
Paul was keenly aware of his need for prayer.
Even more, the focus of Paul’s heart overflowed in his request to the Thessalonians. He didn’t just ask for prayer for himself. In a powerful reflection of his life’s mission, Paul passionately petitioned his brothers and sisters to pray with him that the message of the gospel would be honored and would advance through their ministry (2 Thessalonians 3:1).
Man, that line gets me every time.
If you spend any amount of time in Scripture, it doesn’t take long to see that Paul’s redeemed life wasn’t about personal comfort or worldly gain. It wasn’t even about working harder or having it all together. It was about making much of Jesus.
If others could glimpse into your prayer life – into mine – what would they see?
Far too often our work for the Lord is attempted in our own strength rather than in humble awareness of our great need for God through prayer. Other times we simply neglect to pray, or we pray with a constant inward focus – quickly rattling off our lists of wants, then getting impatient when our requests aren’t immediately met. Sadly, gospel-focused prayer is often an afterthought instead of a daily mission and posture before the One who holds all things together.
Can you remember the last time you escaped from the distractions of this world to spend extended, intentional time in prayer? If not, here are some practical ways to start:
- Pray the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus taught us a humble and powerful way to pray in John 6:9-13. Jesus knew we’d be prone to pray with an inward focus, so He modeled a prayer that revealed the desires of His heart. If we pray after this model with personal conviction – with sincere longing instead of mere repetition – it can transform our desires to align with the heart of the Father. Holy Father, not my will but Yours be done.
- Pray more Scripture. I find such confidence and freedom in praying God’s Word back to Him. Praying Scripture not only keeps us focused and in line with truth; it’s also useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training us in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). When we pray Scripture back to God (verses like Proverbs 16:9: “God, so often I plan my own way in my mind before ever consulting with You. Oh Father, forgive me. Thank you for Your sovereign hand that directs my steps, and that I can trust You in all things.”), we’re rehearsing God’s very breathed-out words in our minds, and with that comes wisdom, conviction, and power.
- Pray through an evangelical prayer list. This simple list (recorded in places like your study journal or even on your phone) can include unsaved family members, friends, neighbors, coworkers, government leaders, and even nations. Like Paul, pray that the message of the gospel would be honored and would advance in the most unlikely places. Ask God to supernaturally open doors that no man can shut (Rev. 3:8), and pray for a holy boldness to share the hope that is in you (1 Peter 3:15). And then never, ever give up praying and believing that God’s power can move mountains. I know a wife who was committed to praying daily for her husband to come to Christ. God miraculously answered that prayer twenty-two years later. Twenty-two years! Never, ever stop praying.
“Every day has exactly 1, 440 minutes; can’t you find even 10 of them to be with your heavenly Father? Doesn’t God deserve the best minutes of your day?” – Billy Graham
“I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” – Martin Luther
Whether it’s ten minutes or three hours, let’s humble ourselves, seek His face, and go to our great God in prayer this week.
At His Feet,
Week 6 Challenge: Write out an evangelical prayer list, then dedicate a block of time each day this week to intentional, gospel-focused prayer. Treat this scheduled time as non-negotiable, following through with even more commitment than you would have for a meeting with the most important work client.