A couple of weeks ago I defined the church as a gospel-formed people living in community on mission to make disciples who make disciples. Each part of that definition is packed with meaning. One aspect not explicit in the definition, but is necessary if we are going to be a gospel-formed people living in community on mission, is prayer.
In 1 Timothy 2:1, Paul wrote, "First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people."
In Matthew 6:10, Jesus tells us to pray this way, "Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."
I think both these verses help us in our understanding of the purpose of prayer. Part of being a people on mission is to practice praying with gospel intentionality. So how can we, as a missional community, begin praying effectively for "all people" as Paul says in 1 Timothy 2:1? How do we, as a missional community, begin praying "Kingdom Come" type prayers as Jesus speaks about?
What I have observed is that, for many disciples, prayer is often neglected. Why? I do not think it is because we see it as unimportant, but we struggle with knowing what to pray and how to get started. Our prayers tend to be me-centered rather than Kingdom-focused, gospel-centered, outward directed.
With that thought in mind, I wanted to provide a few helpful ways to begin praying with gospel intentionality
6:10 Kingdom Come Prayers (Matthew 6:10): I encourage you, right now, to stop and set your phone to alert you at 6:10am and 6:10pm throughout the week. Most, if not all, of us are awake and kicking by 6:10am during the week. This will be a simple reminder to STOP for a moment and pray focused "Kingdom Come" Prayers. Remember, these are not prayers that amount to a list of things you need, but prayers focused on Jesus' Kingdom presently invading, redeeming, reconciling, and transforming. Prayer focused on (1) Change in your heart. (2) Change in others. (3) Change in culture.
P.R.A.Y Acronym. Sometimes we have a hard time staying focused when we pray. We are easily distracted and then become discouraged with our prayer time. Sometimes we don't really know what to say or feel as though all we say is a long list of things we want or need. I find this P.R.A.Y. acronym helpful in keeping me focused when I pray. Sometimes I pray through the whole acronym in one sitting. Other times I focus on one letter per day throughout the week. In addition, I find it helpful sometimes to write down things under each category so focus my prayer even more.
- Praise God (Father, Son, & Spirit): Spend time doing nothing but praising God for who He is (attributes/Character) and what He has done for you in and through Jesus.
- Repent of Sin: Spend time asking God to expose sin and struggles in your heart (Idols). Then confess these to Him and respond in obedience.
- Ask Your Father: We ask Kingdom Come payers, Provision of daily bead needs, forgiveness, and resistance of temptation.
Som e Questions to ask the Father while you pray:
- Will you help me to listen "backward" to You through Your Word?
- As I learn to listen "forward", how do you want me to apply Your Word today?
- Have I been obedient in applying Your Word today?
- Will you help me to discern what you are saying to me as I listen "outward" to your people and those to whom You have sent me?
Yield to the Spirit and Word of God: Ask the Spirit of God "What Next?" Ask Him to tell you want He wants you to do--and then do it!
Intentionally Pray for Your "not-yet-believing" friends: In your prayer journal, WRITE down the names of 2-3 neighbors/friends. Ask our Father in heaven to begin opening their eyes to the truth of the gospel. Ask Him to help you engage them with the gospel--to share and show the love of Christ to them on a consistent, long-term basis.
MC Prayer Chart. I put together this resource to help me be more intentional and outward focused in my prayer life. If I don't have something that helps me stay focused I will gravitate toward babbling and saying the same thing over and over again resulting in very ineffective prayers. Please see the chart and I hope it will help you be more focused and effective in your prayers.
Grace be with you