20 Days of Prayer: Introduction
Over the next four weeks, we’ll spend time intentionally praying for the church and IF:Gathering 2017. This isn’t a study or even a guide on prayer. In the spirit of IF:Gathering 2017, we’re keeping things very simple. Rather than talking about prayer, we’re simply going to do it. If this feels new or awkward to you, don’t worry. Prayer is simply a conversation between you and God. Don’t worry about coming up with the perfect words or following any type of formula. Just come to Him with your real thoughts and He will hear you.
Each weekday you’ll find a Scripture passage, a sample prayer, prayer prompts, and a video all focused on a theme for the day. The sample prayer and prayer prompts are there just to inspire you. The video is a audio reading of the scripture for the day. We encourage you to close your eyes, listen, and meditate on the scripture. If the Lord leads you to pray in a different direction, follow His leading.
Each day, we will pray around the daily theme. The first three weeks will focus on the church. We’ll start by praying for our own hearts, then those closest to us, our local churches, and the worldwide church. During the final week, we will shift to pray specifically for IF:Gathering 2017.
As a model for the next few weeks, we drew inspiration from Paul’s words to the Philippians. Paul often begins and ends his letters by talking about his prayers for the recipients. When we look more closely at his prayers, we find that he prays for very specific things.
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:3–11)
Paul wrote these words to his fellow Christians at Philippi, explaining how he prayed for them. He told the Philippians, “you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel” (v. 7). Not only did Paul write this encouraging letter while sitting in prison, but he wrote it anticipating the suffering the Philippians would experience in the near future. Have you ever noticed that in this instance, Paul didn’t pray for the end of his imprisonment or suffering? His prayers for the Philippians reflected this as well. He didn’t pray for their circumstances—he prayed for their hearts. He asked the Lord for their love to increase exponentially. He prayed for holiness and for Christ’s righteous character to be formed in them. Paul prayed this way because he knew that God was, and is, sovereign over all circumstances, and He can use every situation for our joy and His glory. Because of that, Paul focused his prayers on asking the Lord to continue forming his beloved Philippian friends into the image of Christ.
Like Paul, we want to pray for the most critical things. We all come into IF:Gathering from different places. While we can and should continue to pray for the Lord to work in our specific situations, we want to spend the next few weeks praying for God to move and shape us in ways that will matter for eternity—no matter what our circumstances are.
A Call to Pray:
IF we believe God is who He says He is, we will be a praying people. As we begin this season of intentional prayer, we encourage you to spend some time reflecting on the state of your own heart. Pray that the Lord would reveal anything that many hinder this time of prayer. Confess any hidden sin to Him. Pray that He would make us a people marked by faithful prayer and reliance on Him.
We encourage you to share your thoughts, hopes, and dreams about this journey, as well as prayers or prayer requests in the comments at ifequip.com and in the app. Write them out or share voice memos or pictures—be creative! Coming together as a community, even online, can help us strengthen each other in prayer and encourage one another.