When it comes to prayer and the practice or discipline of prayer, many of us who call ourselves followers of Jesus find ourselves feeling twinges of guilt or shame. We know we should pray more and feel guilt for the ways we’ve failed to pray in the past. We apologize to God and start a process we’ve started a thousand times over of reconnecting with God, knowing we’re likely to fail again. Maybe we even feel too far from God to have the strength to even muster up one word of a prayer. Perhaps some of us are afraid to pray because we feel we just don’t know how or what to even talk about. Others who pray out loud sound eloquent or passionate in a way you don’t feel you can mimic. One of these things is hard enough, but most of us struggle with one or more of these things and have decided it’s easier to set aside prayer for a while or to put it out of our minds completely.
We have made prayer over complicated and it has, for many of us, become a barrier to experiencing God in our lives. Prayer has been made into a spiritual checklist, which is something God never intended. For centuries, scholars and theologians have been studying the practice of prayer. There are so many wonderful resources and books written on how to pray or different styles of prayer. While these are wonderful tools not to be discredited, today let’s just simply step back from the mess of it all. Let’s not vow to start a daily 30-minute prayer routine every morning or make some other commitment you’re afraid you’re going to fail at.
Prayer, at its core, is being vulnerable with God. Most of the time, in church or church related settings, we hear people pray for things in their personal lives: ailments, things we hope for, family, friendships, etc. While we absolutely should be vulnerable with God about these things, we’ve forgotten a major foundational part of our connection with God. For those of us who follow Jesus, the most foundational reason that each of us continue to follow Jesus is because He died and rose again. Simply put, we believe that Jesus defeated death, He offers victory of death to you and I, and He is the hope of the world. If Jesus is the hope of the world, why do most of us forget to pray for the parts of the world that have yet to hear and know of the love and grace Jesus offers? Now as you’re reading this, Don’t heap this onto the to do list of things to pray for or to start praying for. Wherever you’re at in your connection or lack of connection with God, don’t feel overwhelmed by what has been done or not done in your prayer life.
If you’re reading this and realize that your prayer life has only revolved around praying for you and things that impact you, then I’m glad you’re reading this. If your prayer life is nonexistent, but you want to learn how to be vulnerable with God, I’m glad you’re reading this. If you already regularly are vulnerable with God and do pray for the parts of our world that have yet to experience and acknowledge God, I’m still glad you’re reading this. Whichever previously described scenario you fall into, there’s only one take away. The take away is this: let’s take one moment, right now, to pray for people in our world who have yet to receive the hope of Jesus. It’s not complicated and goes something like,
“God, thank you for sending your Son to show us how to live in your love and grace. Help break my heart for the things that break your heart, specifically the people who live in places of our world who haven’t had access to churches or opportunities to hear about you. Please send more followers of Jesus to the places and people in our world who are without knowledge of you. Make yourself known and your name powerful to those who are seeking truth. Break down the barriers people have to accepting your love and grace.”
That’s it. Stop, before you finish reading the rest of this, stop and pray that right now. If you want, pray your own version.
As it does in every relationship, change happens in steps. Washing the dishes or spending more time with those we love doesn’t happen by making all these plans or elaborate strategies. It happens by just doing it and saying, “Rather than doing dishes tomorrow, right now I’m putting soap in my hands and running these dishes under hot water” or “honey, let’s go for a walk or jump in the car and visit that coffee shop we’ve wanted to check out.” The same goes for our relationship with God, “God, I haven’t really prayed for other people I don’t know around the world before, but right now I’m going to try.”
For more information and to dive deeper into praying for specific needs of unreached people groups, we want to give you two other really great follow up steps. The first is a resource called Joshua Project. You can click the icon below to learn about a different unreached people group around our world each day and how to pray for them. The second is a discussion guide for FCC community groups that features a different “Pray For Our Global Partners” each week at the bottom of the guide. Feel free to keep coming back to these discussion guides to continue praying for different causes and work that our community is connected to around the world.