The Prayer Warrior You Want To Be
This morning over 3 million teenagers gathered together to pray across America and in over 20 other countries. They made a stand in and for their schools. They prayed for their teachers, their peers, the lost, their country, those being persecuted for their faith around the world, and undoubtedly numerous other issues our students face on a daily basis. What a beautiful picture of our students coming together for something bigger than themselves! It took initiative and boldness, and it embodied what the Church as a whole is all about. But I have to be frank here. I have been wrestling with this all week…
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love See You At The Pole for a number of reasons! I even helped lead it when I was in high school. I am incredibly proud of every student who mustered the courage to take a stand this morning, especially in public schools where they could be scorned by their peers. And I am broken over those believing students who did not take that stand. But I’m not here to explain the importance, discuss the strategy, or congratulate those precious students who participated this morning. No, I’m here to talk to the youth pastors, youth workers, parents, and other church leaders out there. I’m here to speak for myself. And maybe I speak for you too when I say that a consistent prayer life is lacking in my life.
You see, my automatic response when we discuss prayer is to argue that I “pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17, NASB). Whether or not that’s a reality in your life is not for me to say. I can only speak for myself, and to be honest, I think that response is somewhat defensive because we’re afraid that someone will find out we’re not the “prayer warrior” we secretly profess to be. But that is a topic for another day. I don’t want to talk about the methods, the postures, the topics, the types, the definitions, or the purposes of prayer today. I want to discuss the simple act of prayer. Maybe you think that it’s pointless to discuss because “every good Christian prays”. But do we? Or maybe you’re not sure if it’s worth discussing because some people are men (or women) of prayer and others are not. Think what you may, but this is something we must discuss. Because not everyone prays as we should – I know I don’t and it’s been tearing me up lately. And we are all called to be individuals who live a lifestyle of prayer; Jesus made that very explicit. So how can we go before our students and talk about prayer and its components if we never take time to pray ourselves?
Sure, we pray before and after our church services, and sometimes throughout as well. We pray in our meetings. We pray for our food and before we go to bed. We pray that our events will succeed. We pray when our home mortgages fall through. We pray for doors to open. Basically, we pray when we need something or when it’s expected of us. Jesus explained that we simply can’t confine prayer to that:
When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:5-6, NASB)
There is definitely a place for public prayer, corporate prayer, and a place to make our requests known to God. But when do we go into our “inner room” and pray in secret with our Father? I can’t remember the last time I carved out time in my day to sit and talk with my Abba, and for that I am ashamed. God loves you and He wants to hear from you! He wants to spend time with you. Yes, He’s always with us, but there’s a drastic difference between being with someone and actually spending time with them. If you’re married, you wouldn’t spend all day at home with your spouse and completely ignore the fact that they’re there, so why do we do that to God?
I don’t have a formula to give you or a 10-step process that will correct this in your life. I don’t even know how to correct it completely in my own life. But it must start and it must start today. I can’t help but ask myself why SYATP stopped when I graduated high school. I’m not saying we should all gather around the flag poles in front of our work places every morning, but I am saying that we need to come before God constantly and boldly. It shouldn’t stop with our middle and high school students on the 4th Sunday of every September before school starts. It shouldn’t stop after opening our events in prayer. It shouldn’t ever stop. To “pray without ceasing” is not a call to pray merely with our thought-life, but a call to make your relationship with God a priority.
I challenge you today to find a place free from distraction – a closet, the bathroom, the woods, your kitchen, your living room, your backyard, your car – and spend time with our Father! Do it today. Do it tomorrow. Do it always! As Dr. Jerry Falwell always said, “Nothing of eternal significance happens apart from prayer.” If you’ve ever prayed boldly you can stand with me and confidently say that God does answer prayer, and He answers in huge ways if we just trust in Him unwaveringly. Yet we often fight to be the one not to pray in any group setting. It’s more likely to find us watching a TV show mindlessly in our free time than spending it with God. We should to be jumping at the privilege to pray. Our students won’t know what a consistent prayer life looks like unless they see it in you and me. Our ministries won’t succeed. And we will never live up to our potential until we live lives of prayer. So why stop today?
Posted on September 28, 2011, in Spiritual Disciplines and tagged Christianity, Church, Church Ministry, Family Ministry, Pastor, Prayer, Religion, Student Ministry, Youth Ministry, Youth Pastor, Youth Work. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.