Tag Archive for: Prayer

3 Next Steps After 40 Days of Prayer and Fasting

40 Days of Prayer and Fasting is over, and yet for many of us, we’ve seen a noticeable change in our lives after devoting intentional time each day to prayer and saying “no,” to something we love for a season.

It’s been so exciting to be praying the same things at the same time with the people of God in community.

But now what?

How do we continue fostering a life of prayer and devotion to personal renewal for the long haul?

Here are three ways to navigate the end of 40 Days of Prayer Fasting and keep seeking Jesus as you step into the holiday season.

1. Create a Daily Prayer Rhythm

Historically, the people of God have devoted themselves to daily rhythms of prayer. It’s a great way to practice the presence of God and push pause on the busyness of a frantic life. Here are a few resources that can help with that.

2. Engage with Daily Devotionals

Having a book or app that takes you through a daily devotional, including a prayer time, is a great way to walk with Jesus consistently through your week. Reading Scripture and praying are two ways we communicate with God and stay in close fellowship with him.

3. Participate in 40 Days of Prayer and Fasting

I know what you’re thinking. Didn’t we just finish 40 Days of Prayer? Yes we did! But, we just wanted let you know that we’ve made all of this content available so now you can participate in 40 Days of Prayer and Fasting anytime. Maybe you jumped into the 40 days late or are just interested in doing it again sometime down the road. Maybe you want to invite your small group to participate together. Find all of the daily content here.

Whichever route you choose, remember that prayer is foundational to spiritual formation, and full devotion to Christ takes place through intimacy with him.

We also want to hear what this 40 Days of Prayer and Fasting experience has been like for you. So, share your story here and let us know how God is moving in your life!

40 Days of Prayer and Fasting: Day 1-40

40 Days of Prayer and Fasting is a united effort to draw near to God together as we ask him to bring about a spiritual renewal in our lives, our family, our church, our community, and our world.

Week 1: Dependent Prayer
Day 1: Fasting

He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.  The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’ Luke 4:2-4

Pray that you can learn to completely trust and depend upon your Father in heaven. Ask God to help you have the same faith Jesus displayed in the wilderness, and that he would reveal himself to you as you depend upon him for all things.

 

Day 2: Pride

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others more significant than yourselves. Philippians 2:3

Pray that God would reveal the pride and selfishness in your heart. Allow the Holy Spirit to help you see others in your life through his eyes, and to consider them above yourself. Who can you serve today?

 

Day 3: Humility

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:5-8

Thank God that he has given us the example of Christ and pray that he would help you to live in humble obedience and submission to his good, perfect, and loving will.  

 

Day 4: Rest

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

Take some time to be still and know that he is God. Ask God to help you trust in Jesus for true and lasting rest. Thank him for the gift of Jesus who willingly carries your burdens and offers rest this world can never offer. 

 

Day 5: Busyness

But the Lord answered her, Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion and it will not be taken from her. Luke 10: 41-42

If you haven’t yet chosen something to fast from, ask God to reveal what you should fast from so that you have more time with him daily. God loves you and loves spending time with you, more than you will ever know. 

 

Day 6: Truth

Trust in the LORD with all of your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

Ask God in which ways you depend upon yourself, or this world, for truth instead of trusting in him. As you seek God in Scripture, pray that he would help you to trust fully in his presence, revealed truth, and love for you.   

 

Day 7: Renewal

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2

Ask God to bring renewal and transformation to your life and the community around you. Ask that he would help you to orient your entire life to him, seek him with all that you are, and conform you to the image of his Son, Jesus, as you seek to live on mission.

 

Week 2: Indwelling Holy Spirit
Day 8: Filled by the Spirit

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. Romans 8:9-11

Thank God today for the gift of his Spirit who dwells within you because you belong to Jesus. Pray that you would be filled with his Spirit to live completely dependent upon him as you move throughout your day.  

 

Day 9: Guided by the Spirit

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-25

Pray to your Father that you learn to walk by the Spirit. Ask that he help you to let go of the selfish desires of your heart and instead to love and serve others displaying the fruit of the Spirit to all those around you.  

 

Day 10: Convicting of Sin

As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. 2 Corinthians 7:9-10

Pray that you would be convicted by God to repent wherever your heart and life is contrary to him. Trust in the work of Jesus and know that there is no condemnation in Christ; ask that God would help you to truly know and believe how fully forgiven and loved you are in Christ, even as you seek godly conviction that leads to repentance and renewal.  

 

Day 11: Empowering of the Spirit

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21 

Surrender to God’s Spirit, the same Spirit that resurrected Jesus from the dead, who dwells in you, and empowers you to love, serve, and live on mission in ways that you never thought were possible.

 

Day 12: Gifting of the Spirit

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. 1 Corinthians 12:7-11

Pray that God would reveal your spiritual gifts, which are promised and bestowed upon all believers in Jesus. Ask him to empower you to fully use your gifts in his mission to reach, redeem, and renew the world in the name of Jesus.  

 

Day 13: Reminding Us of All Truth

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. John 16:13

As you fast, ask for clarity of mind. Thank the Holy Spirit for the way he reminds and reveals the truth of God’s word to you. Pray that his presence in your community would lead to deeper understanding and dependence on his truth. 

 

Day 14: Communing with the Spirit

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:26-27

As you pray, know that God’s Spirit intercedes on your behalf, even when you feel completely weak or lost. Pray that the Holy Spirit would search the deepest needs and desires of your heart and trust that God knows you fully and welcomes you completely because of Jesus.  

 

Week 3: Healing
Day 15: Physical Healing

In that hour he healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight. And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. Luke 7: 21-22

Confess to God that he is the Great Healer. Name your brothers and sisters in Christ who are struggling physically and ask our Father to heal them. If you are suffering, ask for healing in your own life according to his will. Thank God for the future promise of all things being made new in his Kingdom. Ask God to give us stories to tell of his power and mercy, that his good news would be proclaimed, and his name honored.

 

Day 16: Emotional Healing

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3

Ask the Lord for healing from the emotional scars you bear. Tell God you trust his power to heal, and that his grace is sufficient for you. Ask him to give you an open heart to his healing power and for an increasing awareness of his steadfast love for you.  

 

Day 17: Spiritual Healing

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,  even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,  so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:4-7

Speak your thankfulness to God for his forgiveness and grace. Ask God to teach you to remember that he alone has forgiven your sin and healed you from unrighteousness. Pray that God will make your life a witness to the power of his rich mercy. 

 

Day 18: Relational Healing

So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23-24

Pray that God will make your relationships as important to you as they are to him. Ask God to give you the faith required to go and be reconciled to anyone with whom you have a fractured relationship. 

 

Day 19: Wounds

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Ask God to give you peace of heart while he works to bind your wounds. Pray for a soft heart toward other people who are hurt and downcast. Ask the Spirit of God to reveal ways you can pray for the people he brings to mind.  

 

Day 20: Trauma

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;  

    his mercies never come to an end; 

 they are new every morning; 

    great is your faithfulness. 

 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, 

 “therefore I will hope in him.” Lamentations 3:22-24

Pray these verses. Ask God to help you trust him in the depths of your struggle. Ask the Lord to send people to you who will speak grace and truth to you and strengthen your faith. 

 

Day 21: Grief

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4

Speak the name of someone who is grieving. Ask God to give them comfort and rest in their season of pain. Thank God for the genuine hope we have in Jesus. Ask God for peace in knowing there is life beyond this life. 

 

Week 4: Freedom
Day 22: Freedom from Idolatry

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Colossians 3:5

Pray that your Father would reveal anything your heart desires more than God himself. Ask for the strength to ruthlessly remove every unholy attraction from your life. Pray that he would quiet you in his presence so that you can see clearly and worship him alone. 

 

Day 23: Freedom from Unhealthy Habits

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9: 24-27 

Pray to your Father to help you to live purposefully. Ask him to give you the will to submit all your ways to him and discipline your heart and body. Pray that you can become intolerant even of trivial sin, remembering that everything you do either glorifies or dishonors Jesus.  

 

Day 24: Freedom from False Beliefs

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; Psalm 19:7-8

As you seek your Father in prayer, pray that he would enable you to hold tightly to the truth of his word and reject false beliefs. As you fast, ask that he give you a hunger for his word, so that you might know the truth and live your life submitted to him. Ask that he help you to put into practice his unassailable truth. 

 

Day 25: Freedom from Depression and Anxiety

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.  Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand;  do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7

Voice your concerns and fears to God. Cast your cares upon him and remind yourself of his deep care for you. Ask for his peace to guard your heart and mind and give you freedom from the crippling effects of depression and anxiety. Thank him for his presence and love.  

 

Day 26: Freedom from Materialism

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:31-33

As you pray, trust that God knows what you need and will always do what is best for you. Pray that God would free your heart from being consumed by material things and a desire for worldly comfort. Spend some time thanking God for every good gift in your life.  

 

Day 27: Freedom from Religiosity

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. Romans 14: 17-18

Pray that your Father would free you from mere rule keeping and self-dependence. Nothing can save except the blood of Jesus. Ask God to fill your heart with the peace and joy that comes from trusting that his grace and mercy are enough for you. 

 

Day 28: Freedom from Envy

If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. Galatians 5:25-26

Pray that the Holy Spirit would guide you in all of your relationships. Ask that God would teach you to be humble, so that you can serve and celebrate people the same way as Jesus. Ask that God would give you freedom from comparison and set your heart to become more like Jesus.

 

Week 5: Holiness
Day 29: Repentance

Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. 1 John 3:2-3

Confess your sins to God. Thank your Father for adopting you and ask for the faith and courage to rid your life of all desires and actions that are opposed to his holiness. Ask him to purify your heart as he is pure and to help you bear fruits worthy of repentance.

 

Day 30: Death to Sin

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Colossians 3:5-10 

As you fast and consider the way of Jesus, ask him to reveal the parts of your life you must put to death. Ask God to make every sinful desire and action distasteful so that you will stop doing anything that does not lead you to honor and obey him.  

 

Day 31: Distinctiveness

Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14

Ask God to grow your desire to be set apart for him. Ask him to grow you in courage and conviction to model your life after him, so that you may reflect the goodness and grace of Jesus to others. 

 

Day 32: Integrity

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9

Pray and ask your Father to strengthen you to live in complete integrity. That God would enable you to love and trust him so much that you do not need to hide your ways or manage your image.  

 

Day 33: Honesty

But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:20-24

Ask God for the simple courage to always tell the truth. As you fast and pray, pray for God to show you any part of your heart that is willingly deceitful or tolerant of falsehood. Ask God for help to put away your old thinking and walk in truth.  

 

Day 34: Transparency

 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:6-9

Pray and express your desire to hide nothing from God. He knows everything about you and loves you completely. Ask him to search you for secret motives and desires; confess those things to him and seek opportunities to be transparent with a brother or sister in Christ. 

 

Day 35: Submission to God’s Word

Through your precepts I get understanding; 

    therefore I hate every false way. 

Your word is a lamp to my feet 

    and a light to my path. 

 I have sworn an oath and confirmed it, 

    to keep your righteous rules. Psalm 119:104-106 

As you’ve refrained from distractions through fasting, take some time to listen to God. Ask him to grow your understanding of the goodness and truth of his word. To help you conform your life to his precepts and in every moment choose his kingdom to come and his will to be done.  

 

Week 6: Mission
Day 36: Compassion

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Matthew 9:36-38

Pray that God would give you deep compassion for the lost. Ask that he would open your eyes to see those who are far from him in your neighborhood, family, or work. Ask him how he might use you to help meet their needs and share the gospel. 

 

Day 37: Local and Global Mission

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. Acts 1:8 

Pray that God would reveal to you where he can use you for the gospel today. Ask him to show you where he has planned for you to participate in his mission. Even when you feel inadequate, trust in his Spirit to be with you and speak for you. 

 

Day 38: Friend of Sinners

The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Matthew 11:19 

Pray that God would show you those in your life and community who feel as if they are not loved by God. Pray that you would be a gospel presence of love, forgiveness, and compassion to those who the world has cast aside in the name of Jesus.  

 

Day 39: Salt and Light

You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:13 -16  

Ask your Father in heaven to help you to be a light to the world. Trust that he is renewing you day by day to look more like Jesus. Ask him that your good works would be seen not for your own pride or success, but for his glory and mission.  

 

Day 40: The Great Commission

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. Matthew 28:19-20

Pray for 5 people in your life today that do not know Jesus. Pray that their hearts would be softened and that God would move in their lives so they would become fully devoted of Christ. Ask God how he can use you in their lives and then take some time to listen. 

Come To Him

As we embark on our 28 Days of Prayer, I hope you’re joining in. Prayer plays a crucial role in our relationship with God, but it can be intimidating.

Many of us feel some trepidation, uncertainty, or confusion when we think about prayer.

We may feel convicted of a lack of desire to pray. We may feel ashamed about failure to consistently pray in the past. Or maybe we just don’t really know how to begin.

As we enter into this challenge together, let’s remember that prayer is simply an invitation into the presence of God. We are called to come to him.

Here are three ways in which we can accept his invitation.

COME IN CHILD-LIKE FAITH
You can come just as you are to God, messy and broken with peanut butter on your face and a rip in your jeans.

Jesus invited the weary, the broken, the bruised, the thirsty – he’s invited all those in need and all those at the end of their ropes. Your Father desires you to bring your burdens to him. The heart of the gospel is that through Jesus we come to God, not with the assumption we are good enough, but with the knowledge that we are not.

Think about how small children talk to their parents. The conversation never ends! There may be pauses, but children always pick back up again with whatever is on their minds. They just blurt out what they want and what they need. They interrupt. They ask without regard for what it will cost you or where it will come from. They ask because they depend completely upon you. And they keep asking with mind numbing persistence.

Come to your Father in prayer like a child. Children are supremely confident in their parents’ love and power. Instinctively, they trust. They believe their parents want to do good for them. And your Father’s care and provision is perfectly wise, strong, and loving.

You can trust him even more than kids trust their mom and dad.

COME IN COMMUNITY
Prayer is not just for a single person alone and desperate in a foxhole; it’s an outpouring to our Father by our family in Christ. We pray for each other and with each other. There might be times in our lives when we cannot get out of bed or even lift our heads because of the suffering of this world. But still, our family in Christ prays for us. We pray together for those who don’t know God, trusting that God not only hears us, but that our prayers matter, now and for eternity.

We need each other. We are created not only for relationship with God, but for relationship with one another. Prayer is a way of life together as the church. Our faith is personal, but it is not private.

COME IN SURRENDER
When Jesus taught his disciples how to pray in Matthew 6:10, the heart of his prayer was this:

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Prayer tunes our hearts to God’s will. When we come to him, we are acknowledging our need. Any posture other than humility is just self-deception. If we had it all figured out, why would we come to him at all?

Our prayers are a step of surrender.

We surrender our plans and priorities. We surrender our dreams and decisions. We surrender our very lives, praying that his kingdom would be built rather than our own. That his will would be done, not ours.

Now, God’s will is not always done on earth. Child abuse is not God’s will, racism is not God’s will, the exploitation of human beings through pornography is not God’s will, and teenagers killing themselves with drugs is not God’s will. We realize the world is broken. So, we cry out to him. We surrender ourselves to his kingdom, asking that he would make all things new.

So come to him.

Come as a child, pouring out your heart and trusting in your Father’s goodness. Come together with your brothers and sisters in the faith, lifting each other’s needs to the Savior. Come in complete surrender, seeking his kingdom and desiring his will.

Just come.

A Simple and Powerful Prayer for Your Child

I remember learning about an approach to prayer years ago when my son was a toddler, and I’m grateful for the way it shaped me as a young father. The advice was simple and practical – use Ephesians 3:14-19 as a way to pray for those you love.

My son is a teenager now and I continue to pray this way for him and my other children. Using these few verses from the Scriptures to direct my prayers has not only helped me pray clearly and consistently for my kids, it has formed the deepest hopes and dreams I hold for them in my heart. I expect to ask God for these things in my kids’ lives for the rest of my life.

Ephesians 3:14-19 says, For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

Wrapped up in these five verses are three powerful things I ask God to do in each of my kids’ hearts.

Lord, please give my child faith in Christ

I strive to teach my kids about who Jesus is and what he has done, but try as I may, I cannot create faith in their hearts. I know God has to be the one to give them the grace of his presence and roots of faith, so I make verses 16 and 17 my request to God saying, “Lord, grant my son strength through your Holy Spirit so that Christ would dwell in his heart through faith.”

Father, please show my child how much you love them

I have spent a lot of time considering the richness of verses 18 and 19 in my own heart. This is the most impassioned prayer I regularly bring to God, “Father, please open my daughter’s heart and mind to the depths of your love. Help her know, without question, that she is loved by you. Give her security and identity rooted in your unquestionable love. Help me love her like you do.”

I often add in a confession of my own faults and shortcomings as a father and ask God to answer this prayer in spite of me. My kids need to know the nature of their true father and I ask God to help me be more like him.

Lord, please fill my child with your presence

This passage has God’s presence as bookends. Paul tells his reader that he bows his knees to ask that God gives them strength and power through the Holy Spirit in their inmost being, and he finishes hoping his reader is filled with all the fullness of God.

I make these words my request saying, “Lord, whatever my son faces today, be ever present to shape his experience, thoughts, and actions. Fill him with your Spirit and give him strength and wisdom to live differently — to live for you.”

I have many hopes for my kids but none more important than these. Consistently asking God to give and grow faith, to expand their knowledge of his love, and to make them aware of his presence each day has shaped the way I parent and the heart I have for each of them.

Who Will Teach Your Kids to Pray?

Our older son was four and our younger son was barely three years old. My older son began his prayer as I had taught: “Dear God, thank you for today. Thank you for Jesus. Please keep us safe. Amen.”

My younger son began his prayer differently. “God. You are so big. You made everything. The trees, the sky, the bugs, the flowers, the whole world…”

As my three-year old rattled out his list of God’s creations, my older son leaned to me and whispered, “He’s just making stuff up. That’s not prayer.” I couldn’t help laughing out loud. I will never forget this even though they likely already have.

Someone taught me to pray, though I don’t remember who.

I have one vague memory of my mom praying with me as a child, but I can’t recall with clarity what we prayed for. Yet, despite my lack of memories, I am certain that my parents prayed regularly, and I would imagine they prayed with me.

After all, someone taught me to pray. Why do I not remember?

This is a topic I constantly ponder in relation to my own children. What will my children remember? Will they remember the first time they learned to pray? Will they remember all the prayers we have spoken over them and with them?

Probably not.

As much as I hate to admit it, I have no control over which memories stick with my kids. Many of our day-to-day activities and conversations have been or will be forgotten.

So, if they don’t remember these specific lessons, is it possible that the pattern of prayer we, as parents, instill will be more impactful than our children’s actual memories of praying?

Our older son is motivated by the facts and is angered by injustice. He is acutely aware of his sin and needs to be reminded of how much he is loved and forgiven by his heavenly Father.

Our younger son is wildly creative and is constantly lost in his thoughts. He is keyed into the beauty of God yet questions the truth of God.

Our daughter is highly aware of her social environment and is often intimidated by it. She prays to God but is frustrated that she can’t see or hear him speaking to her.

Our kids are distinctly different. Their prayers are too.

But, no matter their differences, we hope to teach each of our kids to trace a line back to God with prayer. Or, as C.S. Lewis put it, “to run one’s mind back up the sunbeams to the sun.” We hope that as they experience life – the ups, downs, and everything in between – they will follow the path back to the source of it all.

We teach them to just keep praying.

When our older son feels defeated and angry, we teach him to praise God’s sovereignty and pray for the Spirit to bring his calming peace.

When our younger son isn’t sure that God is who he says he is, we teach him to thank God for his unchanging nature and pray for God’s revealing truth.

When our daughter is insecure about her social surroundings, we teach her to praise God that he promises to be with us and pray for confidence.

To pray is to be with God. To pray is to be in his presence.

The gift of prayer, or the gift of being with God, that we have received through Christ is one we hope our kids will embrace.

To keep praying with them, over them, and for them is a charge to us.

We do not have to pray perfectly. Instead, our aim is to pray every day, in all situations, and in all things, and that by our example our kids will learn to do the same.


 

Withdraw

It’s early morning.

The sun is peaking up over the trees and you can still see the morning mist as the dragonflies dance their way through the air.

It’s quiet save for the birds calling back and forth to one another.

The earth almost feels like it’s stretching its arms out and rubbing its eyes with hope of a new fresh day. I am a spectator with my coffee cup in hand.

I’m not on vacation. I’m just in my backyard. Because a while ago, I had to make a choice to start my days differently.

Don’t get me wrong I love a great vacation getaway. There’s not much better than sitting on a beach in Mexico on the third straight day of doing absolutely nothing but reading and relaxing.

But we all know that isn’t a sustainable reality. It always turns out that life awaits us back at home.

If we pattern our lives to burn hot, run hard, sleep less, and work more until we get those three or four days of relief, we just won’t make it.

We must create space in the rhythm of our lives to slow down, because life won’t do it on its own.

I feel the gravity of all of the responsibilities that are coming my way afresh each morning.

I live and die by a to-do list that keeps me on track.

And if I don’t start my day off with some silence, it would be like heading out on a run as soon as I’ve finished lacing my shoes! I have to stretch first. I have to warm up my muscles.

To face each day, I have to warm up my heart, my mind, and my soul.

These intentional moments of quiet are a countercultural enigma that have lost their place in the rhythm of our culture.

I realized I needed it. But in the busyness of life – the necessary demands of being a husband, a full-time member of a church staff, and a father of seven kids — I didn’t set the bar too high. I just decided to leave myself the first moments of each day.

I wish my daily view was a white sand beach, but my regular place of solace and solitude is my backyard.

Even if you had the means you couldn’t fly to the mountains every morning, So you have to carve out a little space that’s readily available and easily accessible. My wife and I have spent meticulous time to create a space that just oozes peacefulness.

So, every day I start with a cup of coffee and without a phone. I allow myself a notebook in case I get a song idea, a prayer, or a story, but it’s intended to be a space to unplug. It definitely makes the parenting world more manageable before I take that deep breath and walk back inside.

As Christians we pattern our lives to be “like Christ,” and to do so we look at how he lived.

In Luke 5:15-16 we see this rhythm of solitude in Jesus’s life. At this point in Luke’s account, Jesus had been doing those things only he could do, and there was a growing buzz in the area about him. He could have easily run harder into his work, leading his disciples and new followers, but verse 16 says, “But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.”

Jesus could have kept healing and teaching, but he knew he needed the encouragement, the rest, and the renewal from the Father that happens in those quiet moments. And if we make time for them, we will see the same things.

But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.

— Luke 5:16

There have been songs that we sing at church that have taken root in those early morning moments of quiet.

One morning about a month ago, God brought to mind an old college friend of mine. I called him up and it so happened that he had just had to check his spouse into a facility because of suicidal thoughts. We spoke on the phone for about two hours, after we hadn’t spoken in 20 years. We laughed a little, we cried a lot, and we picked up where we’d left off.

God also uses these quiet times to show me my own blind spots. If I didn’t set that moment aside I would walk immediately into the white noise and static that fills my day, and never stop to think, or to talk to God about what was going on in my own heart and mind.

So maybe just take one step that way. It doesn’t need to be a yearlong vow of silence. Just lean in the direction of God and give him your first breaths.

See what he does in you.

I promise you won’t regret it.


 

Is Any Prayer Too Small?

A few years ago, at a church service, the pastor asked us to write down one thing we wanted prayer for over the next week on a small white card. After we wrote something down, we were asked to bring our papers to the front and lay them on the edge of the stage. Then, near the end of the service, he asked us to come forward again, but this time to take a random card and commit to pray for whatever was written on it over the next week.

After I picked mine and returned to my seat, I unfolded the paper, excited and also a bit nervous for what I might see.

“Pray for my arm.”

I almost chuckled as I read it.

Surely this is a kid or something, right? The handwriting was shaky and hard to read, and it seemed like such a small, insignificant thing to ask for prayer about.

I guess, honestly, I was expecting (and maybe hoping, a little) for something a bit more grandiose. I mean, I wasn’t wishing for anything bad to be happening to anyone, but the more dire the circumstance the more I thought I would feel a sense of urgency to do my part.

Knowing that people are dealing with cancer, miscarriages, divorce, leading nations, firing employees, exploring outer space, and sharing the Gospel to every corner of the world, did I really need to bother God with this? Should we let him in on this mysterious arm situation, when he clearly had bigger business to handle?

But, as I sat mulling over the words on that piece of paper, I started to think about the parent, friend, or caretaker of the person to whom this arm belonged. How would they feel about this situation?

If a kid, or anyone else, was willing to write these four words on a card when they could literally have asked for prayer for anything else, anonymously, without the possibility of being judged or found out, then maybe this was serious. Maybe it was a miserable condition to be in. Or maybe it was something they never thought would heal. Or maybe it was simply the only thing bothering this otherwise carefree child.

Regardless, someone who loved this kid would care a great deal about it. I know that when I was a kid, whenever I scraped my knee or bruised some part of me, my parents cared a lot.

Even if it wasn’t serious (and it never was), my parents sympathized with the fact that it bothered me.

Psalm 147:3 says, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of stars; he gives to all of them their names.”

God, the all-seeing, all-knowing, creator and upholder of the universe, cares about the big stuff. He knows all about politics, racial tension, COVID-19, hurricanes, and all the rest. But he is also the dad who stoops down to pick up his crying daughter and hugs her tight.

He is the God who parted the sea and delivered an entire nation out of slavery, and he’s also the God who wept with his hurting friends whose brother had died.

The same God who crafted the cosmos is the one who carves broken lives into masterpieces.

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of stars; he gives to all of them their names.”

Psalm 147:3

“Pray for my arm.”

God, you already know all about this don’t you?

This was his kid after all; his creation.

Even when I didn’t understand, God cared.

And from Creation to the Cross to the promise that he’s coming again, the Bible lets us know that God has always cared.

But sometimes that’s not enough.

“Why am I still hurt if he cares so much about me?” we might say. Or “does God not hear my prayers?”

It’s easy to feel like God’s silence on these matters means he doesn’t care or isn’t listening, but that’s not the case.

God knows exactly what we have gone, are going, and will someday go through. He knows our thoughts, all of our decisions and their reasoning, our struggles, our failures, and our triumphs. He knows when we “sit down and when [we] rise up,” as Psalm 139 says it. He knows what we need even before we do. And he’s always answering our prayers, even if it’s not in the way we are hoping he does.

We don’t pray to tell God things he doesn’t already know. We pray to express our hearts to him – to lay our worries, our brokenness, our trust, and our gratitude at his feet. We pray to realign our hearts and minds with his perspective. We pray to let him in.

So, I don’t know what happened to the kid’s arm. And I don’t know where today finds you. I don’t know what challenges you have staring you in the face, or what prayers you’ve whispered in desperation.

But God does.

And he cares.

Your problems, your worries, your delights, and your dreams might seem like trivial matters to the rest of the universe, but God sees them.

So, let him in.


 

One Thing You Can Do Every Day to Improve Your Marriage

I wish I could take credit for what I’m about to tell you. It is the best marriage advice I know to give. It is simple and profound and, if you do it, will improve your marriage in ways nothing else can. This advice is so elementary that you’ll be tempted to dismiss this article altogether. Here it is…

Pray for your spouse every day.

I am embarrassed to admit that I was married for ten years before I stumbled into this advice. For as long as I’ve been part of the church and following Jesus, it seems I should have known to do this. Actually, I knew I should pray for Donya every day, but up to that point I hadn’t made it a priority. Then, in 2013 I saw an article called “Ten Ways to Pray for Your Wife” that prompted me to take daily prayer for her seriously. It’s the best thing I’ve done for our marriage, and I’ve shared this with every married guy I’ve been in small group with for the past seven years.

Here are three reasons why.

 

When you pray for your spouse every day, you’re spending time with God every day.

There is nothing better for your life than to be with the Father. A thousand things compete for our attention every day, exerting their influence on our hearts and minds, shaping us as husbands and wives. Time with the Father shapes us into the image of the Son, preparing us for our greatest responsibility as husbands and wives, reflecting Jesus to our spouse (Ephesians 5:22-33).

Praying for your spouse every day can be part of an intentional rhythm of being with God through Scripture reading and contemplation. Your spouse needs you to be with God, to hear his voice and be shaped by it.

 

When you pray for your spouse every day, you will begin to see them as God does.

Marriage has its ebbs and flows. Spouses see the best and worst of each other. When you primarily view your husband or wife through your daily experiences with them, it can be easy to let frustration or contempt set in.

As weird as it sounds, in a Christian marriage, your spouse is also your brother or sister. Like your other brothers and sisters in Christ, they need your grace. If you find it easier to give grace to others than to your spouse, praying for them can help.

Something will happen in your heart when you pray for the person you’re married to. You’ll be reminded of their humanity. You’ll be reminded of their need for God. You’ll be reminded that experiencing God’s grace is the best thing for them.

Asking God to lavish his grace on your spouse will motivate you to join in with him. You’ll grow as an agent of grace, learning to look for opportunities to shape your husband or wife through grace.

 

When you pray for your spouse every day, God will work in your marriage.

Some TV preachers advertise God like a Sham-Wow infomercial. They promise that for an amazingly small price, God will make all your dreams come true and life will have never been better.

I’m not trying to sell you that deal. Sometimes life stinks. Marriage is hard. People sin. Wounds hurt. I’m not promising that if you pray for your spouse every day things will be instantly better and always improving. That’s not what the Bible teaches about life, prayer, or God.

Jesus did teach, however, that we should ask God for good things, and that God will give us good things!

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

Matthew 7:7-11

There is mystery here, for sure. Prayer is not a token to a cosmic vending machine. Prayer is a conversation with our Father. He uses it to shape us and to work in our lives.

 

Your spouse is worth praying for.

Every day.

When will you start?


 

A Prayer of Lament

In week 2 of the Good Grief message series, I talked about the essential elements of lament:

  1. Turn to God
  2. Tell him how you feel
  3. Ask him for help
  4. Declare your trust in him

As I’ve been processing and trusting in God in this season, I wrote this prayer of lament about the loss of fruitfulness as a church. In it, I express with honesty how I feel and not necessarily what is true. We can be encouraged that God meets us in our honesty.

If you are experiencing a season of sadness or lament, try writing your own prayer of lament to God expressing how you feel.

Dear God,

You sent us on a mission and now you have distracted us. You have sequestered us and made us wait. Just before the harvest, the storm has taken our crops. You have given us work to do and taken away our tools.

Help us, O God. Open the doors to your truth that we can’t personally walk through. Show us how to love people without being with them, to be your hands and feet while staying at home. And heal us, Lord. Kill this invisible enemy.

I know you have not forsaken us, O Lord. The cross of Jesus was dark, Jesus died and the disciples were scattered. But up from the grave he arose. You turned the darkness to light, the death to life, the dread to hope.

 


Praying For Global Missions

PRAY FOR OPEN DOORS

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word… — Colossians 4:2–3a (ESV)

Open doors can’t be taken for granted. Many missionaries work in countries that are difficult to access or in areas that are resistant to the gospel. But open doors include more than just access to nations and people groups. Individuals’ hearts also need to be open and receptive to God’s truth.

   Pray …

  • That God will open doors of ministry, blessing partnerships and friendships.
  • That those who serve will be led by the Holy Spirit and recognize open-door opportunities.
  • That God will lead his people past barriers to hearts ready to receive his Word.

PRAY FOR BOLDNESS

[Pray] also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel… — Ephesians 6:19 (ESV)

Missionaries are regular people who fear pain and rejection as much as anyone else. When faced with opposition, they need God’s strength to help them stand firm.

   Pray …

  • That the Holy Spirit will provide missionaries with words that communicate effectively in other cultures and languages.
  • That they will have boldness to overcome the fear of embarrassment or failure.
  • Against evil forces that would seek to hinder the spread of the gospel.

PRAY THAT GOD’S WORD WILL SPREAD

Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you… — 2 Thessalonians 3:1 (ESV)

Obstacles must be removed to allow God’s Word to spread rapidly and freely, and missionaries need the strength to continue on in the face of opposition or difficulties. Just as Aaron and Hur supported Moses’ arms in the battle against the Amalekites (Exodus 17:12), you can strengthen the arms of missionaries by supporting them through your prayers.

   Pray …

  • For strength and stamina as missionaries encounter antagonistic spiritual forces (Ephesians 6:10–18).
  • That people will resist Satan’s plans to obstruct the spread of the gospel (James 4:7).
  • That God’s Word will indeed spread rapidly and be honored wherever it goes.

PRAY FOR PROTECTION

[Pray] that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith. — 2 Thessalonians 3:2 (ESV)

In some countries, missionaries may be exposed to the possibility of danger and personal harm. Opposition to the gospel may include hatred and violence.

   Pray …

  • That God will keep missionaries safe.
  • That God will change the hearts of those who are resistant to his Word.

*This excerpt from https://www.wycliffe.org/prayer/how-to-pray-for-missionaries


Additional Resources:

Go Global – Clear Creek Community Church

Tag Archive for: Prayer

Starting a Prayer Life

Prayer can feel intimidating and overwhelming, not knowing where to start, but here are three ways to help you begin praying today!

The Best Marriage Advice I’ve Ever Been Given

Sometimes life stinks. Marriage can be hard. People sin. Wounds hurt. There is no magic cure-all that will instantly make it all better, but this is one place to start.

To learn more about Clear Creek Community Church, visit clearcreek.org

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Why Doesn’t God Answer My Prayers?

Have you ever reached out to God with a prayer, but God didn’t answer it and it leaves you asking the question “Why doesn’t God answer my prayers?”

To learn more about Clear Creek Community Church, visit clearcreek.org

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The Importance of Prayer in Bible Study

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Should We Pray the Lord’s Prayer?

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Fasting and Prayer

Tag Archive for: Prayer

160: What is the Point of Prayer if God Already Knows Everything?

God knows all things, so why ask for what we want, or confess what we have done? God knows what will happen, so why spend time in prayer about the future? In this episode, Rachel Chester talks with Yancey Arrington about God’s all-knowing, all-powerful, all-present nature, and how this actually invites us into real relationship with him and true purpose in the gospel story.

136: Finding Time to Know God

Life is so busy. We need to slow down and we want to know God, but sometimes we don’t even know where to start.

On today’s episode, Rachel sits down with Shari McCormack, who leads the prayer team at the 528 campus and works with Go Local, to hear her experience and wisdom about how time and simple practices can profoundly impact our relationship with God and transforms our lives.

28 Days of Prayer — Psalm 139

Here at Clear Creek Community Church, we are walking through 28 Days of Prayer together.

As part of that, we have a special podcast series, where you will hear from different people around our church read and pray through a Psalm.

Our hope is that these prayers will be a blessing to you and also a resource as you grow in your relationship with our Father.

28 Days of Prayer — Psalm 61

Here at Clear Creek Community Church, we are walking through 28 Days of Prayer together.

As part of that, we have a special podcast series, where you will hear from different people around our church read and pray through a Psalm.

Our hope is that these prayers will be a blessing to you and also a resource as you grow in your relationship with our Father.

28 Days of Prayer — Psalm 130

Here at Clear Creek Community Church, we are walking through 28 Days of Prayer together.

As part of that, we have a special podcast series, where you will hear from different people around our church read and pray through a Psalm.

Our hope is that these prayers will be a blessing to you and also a resource as you grow in your relationship with our Father.

131: Curses, Tears, and Worship — Praying with the Psalms

Clear Creek Community Church is taking part in 28 Days of Prayer as a church family.

As part of these 28 days, we are praying through Psalms, the prayerbook of the people of God.

Throughout this book, there are many different types of psalms; each one a different and authentic way of crying out to God our Father.

In this episode, Rachel talks with Tanner Smith, Director of Prayer Ministries, and Denise Ward, teacher of Grief Share and Women of the Word, about the example of honest and intimate prayers in the Psalms and how we can incorporate them into our own prayer lives.

28 Days of Prayer — Psalm 5:1-8

Here at Clear Creek Community Church, we are walking through 28 Days of Prayer together.

As part of that, we have a special podcast series, where you will hear from different people around our church read and pray through a Psalm.

Our hope is that these prayers will be a blessing to you and also a resource as you grow in your relationship with our Father.

102: Why We Pray

While over half of Americans report praying, in our post-Christian society the concept and practice of prayer can be confusing and even intimidating. Why do we pray? Does prayer really work? What should we pray about? On this episode, Rachel Chester talks with Aaron Lutz, E96 campus pastor, Rachel Fisher, Small Groups Associate, and one of our Clear Creek worship leaders, Tanner Smith, about the power of prayer in our own hearts and for the kingdom of God.

Resources:

Clear Creek Community Church Prayer Grid

Why doesn’t God answer my prayers?