Over the last three years or so prayer has been becoming an obsession in my life and ministry. The financial tsunami that swept across America in October of 2008 swept across many non-profit ministries too. It especially affected ministries, like Dare 2 Share (the ministry which I lead), that were dependent on larger donations. Many of our partners were wiped out or, at the minimum, greatly diminished in their ability to give large gifts to our ministry.
What was our response? We cut programs and, unfortunately, had to cut staff as well. But there was another response that we had. We began to pray like never before.
Over the last 36 months or so we have taken more and more steps to make prayer a priority in the ministry of Dare 2 Share. The immediate temptation was to build some prayer program and release it to much fanfare. But we felt we should take a different approach this time. Here are the three action steps we took to make prayer a bigger priority in our ministry:
1. Increase the word count.
Instead of starting some new massive prayer program start by just talking about it more. Tie it into your talks. Talk about prayer formally and informally. Make prayer part of your vernacular.
The bottom line is that we talk about what's important to us and what's important to us will usally get scheduled. Prayer programs will eventually shake out of all this talk about prayer but, even if they don't, more prayer will.
If you want to make prayer a bigger priority in your ministry talk about it more.
2. Teach on prayer more.
Do a series on prayer that can kick start the conversation about prayer in your youth group. Here's an idea, do a series on The Lord's Prayer.
When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray here is the prayer that he taught them, â€œOur Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one" Matthew 6:9-13.
I'll give you a quick four week series you can use to preach this passage to your youth group. It is called "Let us PRAY!" This is an acrostic for Praise, Request, Admit and Yield.
Praise: "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name." This is where we teach our students to recognize who he is (our Father), where he dwells (in heaven as King) and the preciousness and holiness of his name. As we dive into prayer we need to allow the power and majesty of God take our breath away. We recalibrate our hearts to the True North of his majesty and bring him praise and glory. Here is when we reflect and revel in who he is. This is a prayer of adoration.
Request: There are two kinds of requests here. The first one is for God's agenda to be accomplished on earth. Jesus summed it up by saying, "your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." This is a prayer of intercession for others. We pray that God's kingdom will come into the hearts of those who don't know Jesus. We pray that God's kingship will reign in the hearts of those who do know Jesus. We pray for God's kingdom to expand through his people on this earth. Put simply, we pray for revival.
The second kind of request we pray for is for our needs to be met. We ask for God to give us the daily bread we need to carry on. This is when we can ask God to supply our needs. This is our prayer of supplication. God wants us to bring our lists of requests to him and ask him to provide them. He is not an ATM or a cosmic Santa Claus, but he is a loving Father who wants us to persistently and passionately bring our requests to him.
Admit:This is when we ask God to forgive us for the things we've done to displease him. We recognize and repudiate our sin before him so that, as we pray, we do so with clean hands. As Paul reminded Timothy in his first book to him (chapter two verse eight), "Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing." This is our prayer of confession.
Yield: This is when we ask God to protect us from the evil one and get filled with his Holy Spirit to provide the power to resist the temptations Satan puts in our pathway. DL Moody said that we need to consistently get filled with the Holy Spirit because we are leaky vessels. As we yield to the Holy Spirit we will have the victory over sin and Satan. This is our prayer of submission.
3. Pray more! Talk about it and teach on it but don't forget to actually do it! Carve time out personally to pray more. Take more time in youth group and small group to actually pray. It may feel uncomfortable at first but the more your teenagers learn the privilege of prayer in all of it's aspects and assets the more you will turn from a program to a powerhouse.
I thank God for the financial struggles we've had over the last three years. Why? It taught us to pray! As a result we've seen God come through again and again in ways that only he could get the glory for. We've had the best reviewed two tours of our twenty year history! Why? Because we had a bigger budget and more flashing lights at our events? No! No! No! It's because these events have been drenched, baptized and saturated in prayer.
Do you want power from on high to see great things happen in your life and ministry? Pray!