I have to be honest. I’m not a prayer warrior. I’m embarrassed and ashamed to admit that personal prayer has never really been one of my spiritual strengths. It’s not like I don’t pray; I just know that I don’t pray nearly enough. As you can probably tell, God has been convicting me in this area of my spiritual walk. God is giving me a renewed mindset toward the critical importance of prayer and reminding me that nothing of any eternal significance will be accomplished without focused prayer. A great quote I heard recently said, “We don’t pray FOR the work, prayer IS the work.” Even as I write these words, I want to be very careful not to turn prayer into something I do in order to get something from God but rather something I do in order to get closer to God. At its most basic level, prayer is simply communication with God and that communication has to go 2 ways. I know I need to set aside more time to pray and more of my prayer time to listening rather than doing all of the talking. Something else I’ve learned over the last few months is that if you don’t make a solid plan, nothing will happen. So here’s my plan: Over the next 7 days I’m going to spend at least 20 minutes every day in uninterrupted prayer.  I’ll spend half of it talking to God and the other half just listening.  Maybe next week I’ll share how it went.

I realize I titled this post “What are YOU praying for?” Your prayer life is probably much stronger than mine, but maybe it’s dangerous to assume that prayer is a consistent habit in your relationship with God. If it isn’t I invite you to join me with the prayer challenge for the next 7 days. If prayer is a consistent daily practice for you, what do you pray for? Who do you pray for? There was a question I encountered a while back that really shook me. the question was, “If God answered every one of your prayers this week, how many people would have a new relationship with Jesus?” Ouch. The big point here is that we should be praying daily for people who don’t have a relationship with Jesus!

There is a huge emphasis here at Brentwood Baptist on what they call your “Oikos” (Greek word for those in your sphere of influence – family, friends, neighbors, coworkers). Who is in your sphere of influence or “Oikos” that doesn’t know Christ? The challenge is to write down their names and simply start praying for them by name every day. Some of those in my “Oikos” live in Holly Springs, which really prompts me to pray for all of those in Holly Springs who don’t have a relationship with Christ. As I pray for them I realize that the spiritual work of declaring and demonstrating the love of Jesus to them has already begun. I encourage you to make an “Oikos” list and begin praying daily for your family, friends, neighbors and coworkers that don’t have a relationship with Jesus. If you feel led, I’d also like to invite you to pray with me for the people in Holly Springs, NC who don’t know Jesus and that God would use us and the church we are preparing to plant to reach them for Him.

Isn’t it interesting that of all the things the disciples could have asked Jesus to show them how to do, they asked Him to show them how to pray?! There must have been something very special about the way Jesus prayed with such incredible intimacy, passion and power that led the disciples to ask Jesus to show them how to pray like He did. Let’s get to work!

Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”  And he said to them,  “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.” – Luke 11:1-4