Why do a 20/40 prayer challenge?
If you are reading this, then you are probably participating in our Lent 2018 emphasis of Journey with Jesus and the 20/40 challenge. As a church, we are encouraging people to spend 20 minutes a day in prayer for the 40 days of Lent (not counting Sundays).
For some of you folks who have been praying for a long time, this may not seem like such a big deal; but for others of you, 20 minutes of prayer a day seems like a lot. And perhaps it sounds nice, but why are we even doing it?
Part of our struggle with prayer comes from the imagines that immediately jump into our heads when we hear the word. We think of super-spiritual people with big biblical vocabularies who are sort of “experts” at praying. They seem to have an inside spiritual track with God that the rest of us lack, and people look up to them as “prayer warriors” and giants of the faith. Here is my suggestion. Let’s torpedo that imagine out of our minds. There are no experts in prayer. There are two kinds of praying people in the world: 1) some who have been learning to pray for a long time; and 2) some who are just beginning to learn to pray. The point is that we are all lifelong learners, so there is no shame about starting wherever you are in learning to pray, and growing from there.
In fact, true prayer is less about the “performance”—the words we say or the posture we take. Prayer is more about bringing who we really are—with all of our flaws and limitations—into the presence of the living, loving God who wants us to know him. This is why we pray, and why we are encouraging you to pray: because God wants you to know him. God has gone to great lengths to reveal himself to you. God has sent his Son Jesus to you; God has sent his Holy Spirit to live with you each day; God has given you his written word, the holy scriptures. God has made himself known, and he wants you to know him—personally, intimately.
So when you pray, don’t dress yourself up or try to show off or impress God with your prayer verbiage. Instead, bring who you are—not who you wish you were—but who you really are and talk to God plainly about how you need God in your life right now. And God will meet you and hear you and draw you more closely to him. This is why we pray.
P.S. This Saturday, Feb. 24, our church is hosting a morning of prayer from 9 am to noon. This is a great place to learn some new ways to pray. You won’t be made to pray aloud or do anything embarrassing, but you will have guidance in some different approaches to prayer that may help you as you journey on in life. Please feel free to join us for all or part of the morning! See you there!
Opening Prayer (slowly, pausing as you need along the way):
O Lord, let my soul rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.
Come, let us bow down and bend the knee: let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.
Psalm and Gospel for the Day: (slowly read the Psalm, maybe 2 or 3 times, pausing if there is a word or phrase that stands out to you; then take that word or phrase and turn it into a prayer. Then read the Gospel lesson.)
Feb. 19 | Psalm 63:1-8 | John 2:1-11
Feb. 20 | Psalm 52:1-9 | John 2:12-25
Feb. 21 | Psalm 119:57-64 | John 3:1-8
Feb. 22 | Psalm 60:1-5 | John 3:9-21
Feb. 23 | Psalm 95:1-7 | John 4:1-15
Feb. 24 | Psalm 55:1-8 | John 4:16-26
Personal Prayers (If you have felt God speaking from his word, respond in prayer; ask him to work in your life in specific ways.)
Prayers for Others (especially pray for one person you would like to influence for Christ)
The Lord’s Prayer (pray it slowly and thoughtfully, thinking about ways each phrase may apply to your life today.)
Come, Holy Spirit. We pray that your fruit would be in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Dear Jesus, help us to spread your fragrance everywhere we go.