INSTRUCTIONS: Read the Bible verses related to each devotion. Then follow the actions and prayers for yourself and a nonbeliever at the bottom of the page.
I had to learn to pray, but I did not know where to begin.
I knew that prayer was important, and I felt God urging me to pray. However, I felt like a little boy lost in a big city; there were people hustling and bustling all around me that knew where they were going, but I didn’t. Then one day, it dawned on me.
Why not pray the Lord’s prayer, which can be found in Matthew 6:9-13?
“‘Our 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.”
So, I went on a journey of learning to pray.
It seemed simple enough. Just set aside time, open my Bible, fold my hands, and then pray. Right! And I can honestly say something happened. My heart enjoyed the time I got to pray, and I was filled with eager anticipation as I readied myself to pray each day. And when I had been faithful with that, God gave me the next step.
When I was a sophomore at university, a preacher came to our church. He shared that you can make a prayer list and pray for each person for a set time every day. I remember how excited I was on that first day when I wrote down my prayer list. I scribbled down the name of everyone that I could remember and prayed. First, I faithfully prayed the Lord’s prayer, trying to connect to His heart in a real way, and then I started to pray through my prayer list. I did this every day. It was sometimes boring, but most times, people had real issues that needed prayer, so I prayed until God answered.
Now, after praying a prayer list almost daily for 25 years, I can truthfully say God really does answer prayer, but in His own time and in His own way. As I prayed that list, God sent people to me; friends, neighbors, and strangers. I would hear their hearts, and tell them I was praying for them. So, the next day I just added their names to the prayer list (I would pray while I drove back and forth to campus, about a 35-minute drive).
Sometimes they would excitedly come back and tell me that God had answered the prayer and their lives changed in this way or that. I was so amazed that God took time to hear people when they prayed. Some days, He did not answer the prayers.
I didn’t understand why, but through the years I have learned He is sovereign in His leadership over our lives. The more I seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, the more He draws me into His will and plan for my life and those around me. I also learned He takes time to answer prayer, because He is working on multiple levels of people’s lives, while never violating His Word or their own personal will (we choose to follow Him or not).
One of the men on my list was a football player from the athletes Bible study named Roshon. He was one of the most passionate people I knew. He could walk into a room filled with his teammates with a big smile on his face, and everyone in the meeting would turn and shout his nickname in unison. He was well-liked and brought joy to so many people’s lives. After he said yes to Jesus, I remember giving him a Bible, praying with Him, and then as a team/family we discipled him over the next year. This man flourished; like a sponge, asking questions and soaking up answers. He wanted to grow more and more in the knowledge and understanding of Jesus. Daily, I continued to pray for him, but I didn’t realize how powerful the long-term effects those prayers would be.
As time would have it, I took a job in another state and lost sight of Roshon, and all my attempts to reach back out to him were futile. Then one day, when I least expected it, we ran into each other in a hotel lobby. He had just buried his grandmother from cancer, and I was there because my mother was dying of cancer. Little did we know the Heavenly Hand of God’s fate drew us together once again.
He was now married, has a Doctorate of Leadership, father of seven, distinguished school principal, and was leading a successful coaching business. After a happy reunion, he and I are now bound in sharing the Gospel and praying for the sick wherever we go. I remember one story...
Just the other day, we took a flight to Minnesota and the woman checking us out was in obvious mental pain. So, right there at the counter, with a long line of people, we listened to her story. (She had been raped and beaten by her boss at a Christmas party, and was suffering immense side effects). With God’s love, we reached over the counter and laid our hands on her. In empathy, we prayed with her, got her cell phone number, and kept up with her (not being concerned that the line of customers was growing and growing).
This powerful moment of prayer for this young lady started many years before. It started with me answering the Lord’s call to pray the Lord’s prayer daily. It started back when I met Roshon and added him to my prayer list. BUT more importantly, if I went back further still, it started with God’s love.
Jesus showed that the Father loved us before we existed physically. He said:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
Later on, John, the Beloved disciple who lived in the love of Jesus affirmed in 1 John 4:10,
“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
What can we conclude from God’s heart in these two passages of divine Scripture? God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit, loved you while you were still a dream in the heart of the Father (before you existed physically).
They loved you, before you said yes to Jesus as Savior and Lord, and they love you still despite what you are struggling with now. God does not measure you based on your good deeds, but His goodness and love lead you to repentance and cause you to cooperate with His Kingdom Come. So, what can we learn from this? How then shall we pray? What did these life lessons teach me and how will they bless you?
First, my prayers are birthed out of God’s love and God’s will; God loves me and He loves others, so as I seek Him, I can pray according to His loving will. Second, the Lord’s prayer is a great starting point; the more I seek to find Him within the Lord’s prayer, the more my heart connects to Him and others. I did not just pray a rhythmic recital of unemotional prayer; instead I was entering into the powerful personality of His emotions, and prayer became enjoyable. Last, I learned to stay persistent in my prayers and so should you. Keep praying day and night for the same person until God answers, no matter how long. (Consider how long He prayed for Israel before they even existed.)
ACTION4U: Ask God the Father to teach you to pray.
1. Read over the Lord’s prayer above slowly.
2. Write down an aspect of His love that you feel as you read the Scripture.
PRAYER4U: Pray the Lord’s prayer for yourself by putting in your own name. Place your hands over your heart, look to God, and pray. “Our Father in heaven hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come. Your will be done [in my life] as it is in heaven. Give [me] this day [my] daily bread. And forgive [me] our [my] debts (sins), As [I] forgive [my] debtors. And do not lead [me] into temptation, But deliver [me] from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
ACTION4ONE: Today, get out a pen and paper and write down the name of this person on your “prayer list.” Put the paper someplace meaningful to you (you can add other people and situations later).
PRAYER4ONE: Pray the Lord’s Prayer and put in their name
“Our Father in heaven hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come. Your will be done [in _____ life] as it is in heaven. Give [_____] this day [their] daily bread. And forgive [_____] [their] debts, As [_____] forgive [their] debtors. And do not lead [_____] into temptation, But deliver [them] from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
INSTRUCTIONS (WHEN YOU ACTUALLY TALK TO THEM): Do not interrupt them, instead let them tell the story of who they are, where they are from, why they believe what they believe. This is all for you to learn about them so you can have compassion and understanding.
Have you been blessed by this and want to be a blessing?