Just like someone told you the best news ever, someone prayed for you. Someone prayed that you would come to believe Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. Someone prayed that you would come to trust that God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Today’s post is about prayer. As a church we have committed to have intentional gospel conversations with people for the next 90 days. To do that, prayer will need to be a big part of those conversations. One of the purposes of the Go & Tell wall, we talked about in last week’s post, is a reminder to pray.
When you pray for the lost, you can follow this outline. Pray specific things for each lost person you know.
If you are really honest, your prayer life could probably use a boost. Paul urged Timothy to pray for the lost. Here’s how he said it:
“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:1-4 (NLT)
God has built prayer into evangelism. Prayer is a big deal to God. So why do so many people struggle to have a great prayer life? Here are four possible reasons why people don’t pray more:
- They are not sure how to pray.
- They get bored or distracted while trying to pray.
- They think their requests are too small for God.
- They are not sure prayer matters.
What exactly is prayer? Let’s establish a working definition for today’s post.
Prayer is communicating with God.
Prayer is so simple. Can you even believe that we have full access to God? Scripture says we can come boldly before His throne of grace that we might find help in time of need. Prayer is just communicating with God. Our prayer life doesn’t have to look like everyone else’s. Break out of your prayer box so you can pray more creatively. More authentically.
“Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my sighing…” Psalm 5:1
David, in this verse, is asking God to consider his sighing. He says, “God, I want to talk to You. God, we’re so intimate I can sigh towards You and You can acknowledge what I am saying.
“Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.” Psalm 5:2-3
We all connect to God in different ways. Give yourself permission to recognize prayer is not just kneeling down by the bed with hands clasped. You might like to sing, so sing your prayers to God. Maybe you like to write, so write out your prayers to God. Type an email to God or learn to pray during routine tasks of the day. When you’re hurting, you may just go before God and just unleash your emotion toward God and cry with Him. Have the courage to break out of your pre-conceived ideas of what prayer has to be. Prayer is communicating with God, here are four very simple ways to communicate and to talk with God.
1. Talk to God with gut-level honesty.
So many people talk to God in a way that they don’t talk to anybody else at all. Sometimes people almost put a show on for God in prayer. God wants us to talk Him with authenticity. It doesn’t have to be a show. In fact, there are times in scripture when people are so honest, it’s almost scary. There are so many examples of people giving God their honest feelings and you can be certain, God is secure enough to handle it.
Moses, in the Old Testament, was rather upset with God. He was almost sarcastic in his prayer.
“Moses returned to the LORD and said, “O Lord, why have you brought trouble upon this people? Is this why you sent me? Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.” Exodus 5:22-23
You can pray honestly before God and continue to be reverent. You will always want to be submissive to Him.
If you look at Jesus, there are only two things that He criticized about people’s prayers. The only time He is critical is when people’s prayers were too lengthy for show purposes and when they were inauthentic.
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men…And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.” Matthew 6:5,7
Your prayer doesn’t have to be unnecessarily long, and it doesn’t have to be perfect and fancy before God.
A guy was recently buying paint at a paint store and he was asking how primer should be applied, roll or brush all these questions and the guy working at the store said, it doesn’t have to be pretty, in just has to be on there.
Prayer is the primer of the Christian life. It creates adhesion and cohesion and it doesn’t have to be pretty, it’s just gotta be on there.
2. Talk to God about everything that matters to you.
What matters to you? Take it to God in prayer.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6
In everything, we talk to God.
Whatever is important to you, talk to God about it. If it’s important to you, it’s important to Him.
Here are some of the different prayers people prayed throughout scripture. Every prayer is unique in what mattered to different people.
- Zacharias prayed for a son
- Solomon asked God for wisdom
- Moses and Samson both asked God for water in a time when there wasn’t water
- Daniel had a weird dream and he didn’t know what it meant, so he asked God to help him know what it meant
- Gideon asked God to give him a sign
- Abraham had a servant, who prayed that God would give him favor to find a wife for Isaac
- David prayed for forgiveness after sinning with Bathsheba
- Elijah prayed that it wouldn’t rain and then he prayed three and a half years later for it to rain again
- Paul prayed about something that bothered him, this thorn, something in his side, and he pleaded with God to take it away
- The disciples prayed for boldness
- Jesus prayed that His disciples would be unified
When you look through scripture, what you are going to see is all these different things that matter to God’s kids. They took their requests before God and it mattered to God, because it mattered to his children.
Don’t go to anyone else until you’ve gone to God. Pray about everything. What matters to you? Pray about it. Do you have headaches that plague you? Talk to God about it. Do your feet hurt at work, talk to God about it. Are you about to start homework and you’re unsure how to do it, talk to God about it. Do you need a friend? Talk to God about it. Is your child struggling in school? Talk to God about it. Is your boss driving you crazy at work? Talk to God about it. Do you have tension in your family, are you worried? Talk to God about it. Whatever matters to you, matters to God, so pray like it matters.
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
Cast it. In order to cast something on God you may have to say it out loud. You probably haven’t given it to God unless you articulate it and say it out loud.
3. Talk to God continually.
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
You may not be good at sitting in prayer for an hour, but you can have a continual awareness of the presence of God. Train your mind to pray first. We give out bracelets that say “Pray First” to remind us that we are always about to do something…we can pray before everything. Before you walk into a meeting, before you click send, before you walk into the office or walk into the house…Pray First.
It’s an ongoing, consistent conversation with God. It doesn’t have to be just in the morning or just over the meal, but it’s an awareness of the presence of God. It’s an ongoing conversation. When it comes to prayer, we’re going to PUSH through.
Pray Until Something Happens
Like the widow in Luke 18, who comes back before the unrighteous judge, who finally gives in because she’s so persistent. And Jesus said, “Don’t you think God will be like that?” When you pray, God might choose to change your circumstance or He might change you.
4. Talk to God and listen for His response.
Imagine how flat an one-sided only relationship would be. If the only things you ever said to someone else was what you needed them to do for you. Why would God be any different?
God not only wants to hear us, but He wants us to hear Him.
How is He going to speak? In all sorts of different ways. In a loud booming voice? He may speak that way, but He often doesn’t. When God spoke to Elijah one time, scripture says very clearly that there was a wind that tore through the mountains and shattered the rocks, but God was not in the winds. Then there was a huge earthquake, and most people would say God was in it, but God was not in the earthquake. Then there was a blazing fire, but God was not in the fire. God did reveal Himself, though.
“And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.” 1 Kings 19:12-13
God can speak to you through His word, in worship or in prayer. You will probably find God working in you and speaking back to you through His word and godly people around you. That’s why we have small groups at Rock Brook. Your small group can pray for the people in your life who need the Lord. They can speak into your life. The word and God’s people, they have to align, but through those two things you can hear God’s voice.
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27
Check back and review what we talked about last week. Have you used any of the strategies? Have you had any gospel conversations? How did those go?
Hear the Word
Read: 1 Timothy 2:1-4, Psalm 5:1-3, Exodus 5:22-23, Matthew 6:5-7
- Of the reasons people don’t pray more, which one do you relate to most?
- Describe a time how God answered an important prayer in your life. How did the way God answered your prayer affect your relationship with Him?
- How honest are you with God when you pray? What are some reasons that keep us from being totally honest with God?
- Describe how you communicate with God. What ways are most effective and meaningful to you?
- What types of things do you typically pray about?
- What keeps most people from praying on a regular basis? What are some specific ways we can overcome those challenges?
- What is the biggest issue or need in your life currently? Spend some time praying for those needs as a group.
Tell Someone Else
To share our faith with others, we must rely on God’s word. Read through the Bible verses in the outline. What Bible verse can you look to for strength as pray for the lost?