Over the last 28 years, my wife and I have been on staff at a number of churches and planted two churches. During this time, I preached about prayer and I encouraged prayer. I developed prayer strategies and even led prayer gatherings, but prayer was never easy. It always felt like a chore. In reality, it was not a high priority for me compared to my other tasks as a pastor.
My struggle became even more apparent as I spent time last year with church planters in Africa and South America. I met leaders who were dedicated to three hours of prayer a day, a day of fasting, and an all-night prayer gathering every week. They were a reminder to me that every real movement of God starts with a prayer movement. I left wondering if I was a real pastor or even a real Christian.
“Prayer is the best way to encounter and partner with God in his redemptive work.”
What I am discovering is that prayer really is a gift from God. It is the best way to encounter and partner with him in his redemptive work. It is not a chore, but it is an invitation to work with the creator of the universe. I realized if I was going to move toward being a person of prayer, I needed to develop a plan to move in that direction.
Here are a few ideas that I have implemented over this past year. I have not perfected these; I am still in process. I encourage you to ask God how he wants you to engage and develop your own.
Increase your prayer time incrementally
I’ve been adding additional prayer time to my schedule incrementally. I’m working up to four additional hours outside of my daily devotional time. One of the ways I’m prioritizing this is by reducing the time I spend watching television in the evenings. Most weeks, I spend this time praying for leaders and kingdom impact with people in my neighborhood and in the places God has called me to reach in my community
Go on a prayer walk
I suggest going on regular prayer walks in your neighborhood or places in your community. As I walk through my neighborhood, God calls my attention to things he wants to do and provides various opportunities for engagement. I recommend taking some friends with you when possible.
Start a weekly intercessory group
I am a part of a group that meets every Thursday for two hours of prayer. We call it “Kingdom Prayer” because the main focus is kingdom advancement in our community and state. Sometimes we pack into a van and pray at various neighborhoods, schools, and strategic places in our community. Other times, we get out a state map and pray for various locations that God puts on our hearts.
Set an alarm
I have a daily alarm set for 10:02 a.m.. At this time I pray Jesus’ prayer in Luke 10:2 for more laborers. “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” This has become a practice of thousands of fruitful church planters and missionaries all over the world.
I am noticing that I have a much greater sense that I am partnering with God and I am seeing a greater number of spiritual breakthroughs as I begin to practice these disciplines.
I would love to hear your thoughts! What are you doing to becoming a person of prayer? What habits have you have found helpful?
Are You Called to be a Church Planter?
Reflect on these 10 questions to help discern your calling.