If you’ve ever been a part of a small group, you’re probably familiar with the part of the meeting that’s always set aside for prayer requests.
The group goes around the circle, and everyone shares how everyone else in the group can be praying for them. If you have an administratively minded member of your small group, that person probably takes notes to be emailed to the group later that week.
And depending on the size of your group, this process can take 45 minutes to an hour…or more.
Can I make a confession to you?
I sometimes find this part of small group to be incredibly exhausting. And don’t get me wrong, I love getting to pray for my friends.
But here’s the thing. There are only so many medical procedures I have the bandwidth to pray for. There are only so many school tests I can pray are passed with flying colors. There are only so many job searches for a friend-of-a-friend I want to pray blessings over.
Maybe that sounds selfish. And it could be. But hang with me for a sec.
I often wonder: are there more important prayers we could be offering up to God?
As much as I may want Jim’s back pain to go away, or Susan’s job performance review to go well, are there matters of even greater significance that we could be spending our prayer time on?
James, the brother of Jesus, tells us: “You do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:2). So it stands to reason that we would have if only we would ask. But what are we even asking for?
Here are 7 prayers that I think have the power to change the world. These are the kinds of things I want to spend a lot of time asking for.
These 7 prayers are bold. They’re prayers that will stretch us and refocus us. And this isn’t an exhaustive list, but I think it’s a good start.
1. God, teach me to rely on you more than I rely on myself.
If we’re being honest, we often spend the majority of our prayer life asking God to make our lives more comfortable. To take away our medical concerns. To make it so that our finances have greater security. To increase our enjoyment of our relationships, work situations, and general experience of the world.
And these aren’t bad prayers. God is always listening to us. And he answers our prayers, even sometimes when they’re selfish.
But what if we flipped the script? Instead of asking God to make it so that we feel a sense of safety, security, and happiness, what if we simply asked God to teach us to rely on him instead of ourselves?
Because, again, if we’re being honest, we want God to give us these good things so that we don’t have to feel the discomfort of having to rely on God every single moment of our lives. If only he would just set us up with one lump sum of blessing, we wouldn’t have to rely on him day-by-day.
What if we came to know that we didn’t need all those things in order to have a joy-filled life? What if we came to know that Jesus really is enough?
Let’s pray for God to teach us that he is enough.
2. God, give me patience.
Some people are fond of saying, “Be careful when you ask God for patience…he may put you in a situation where you’ll need it!” (*insert canned laugh track here*)
But the fact of the matter is that praying for patience isn’t actually a dangerous prayer. Because we’re always finding ourselves in situations where we need to exercise patience, regardless of whether we’re praying for it or not.
We’re just not aware of our need for patience when we’re so busy mowing down other people whenever we encounter a difficult situation. Only we don’t think that we’re mowing people down. We think of ourselves as efficient. Expedient. Pragmatic, even.
What if we took a step back to evaluate whether we’re simply being proactive or if perhaps God is inviting us to exercise patience?
Let’s pray that God would show us where we need to patiently wait on him.
3. God, make me more generous.
Generosity is one of those great virtues that we always assume a future version of ourselves will have in abundance. But it’s not automatic. Generosity is a learned trait.
You might think that you don’t have the resources to be generous yet. You still have student debt and a low paying job. But generosity isn’t about the amount you’re able to give. It’s about your heart.
The truth of the matter is that it’s possible to be greedy and poor at the same time. Only God can change our selfish hearts and make them generous.
Let’s pray that God would reveal where we can be show abundant generosity, today.
4. God, reveal where I am harboring pride or unforgiveness.
Everyone always thinks that the anger they feel is righteous anger. But the fog of pride and entitlement can be thick. It takes a real presence of mind to step back and ask God if we’re harboring any sense of pride or unforgiveness.
And the chances are good that we do have at least a little bit of one or both lingering in our hearts at any given moment. And both only produce conflict.
Let’s pray that God would reveal where we need to let go of our need to always be right.
5. God, burden me with the things that burden you.
The things that burden our hearts can be so trivial. We spend so much time worrying about whether people will like us, how much money we will make, or whether others are really hearing what we have to say.
But what if we worried more about what burdens the heart of Jesus? What if we were burdened with the hurts of others, their needs, their hearts? What if we concerned ourselves less with our own burdens and more with lightening the burdens of others?
Let’s pray that God would open our eyes to truly see other people and what they need.
6. God, give me the boldness to share your good news.
Part of seeing the burdens of others is recognizing the greatest need in their life–their need for a Savior.
Too often we’re worried what it may cost us to speak the good news of Jesus to people who are far from him.
What if I lose some of my social capital at work, and that makes it harder to get a promotion? What if people act weirdly toward me? What if they reject me? What if they think less of me for opening my mouth about Jesus?
Is not their need greater than these concerns? Of course it is. We all believe that. But our belief will not turn to action until it is drenched in prayer. We’re not able to be so bold apart from prayer.
What if our burden to share Jesus was as great as our burden to be healthy, financially stable, and ever advancing in our career? We can ask Jesus to make it so.
Let’s pray that God would give us a burning passion to see the lost find Jesus.
7. God, make me a servant.
Everybody wants to be a servant until someone treats them like one. Serving feels noble until someone isn’t thankful or when someone fails to even notice what you did.
Truly seeking to have a servant’s heart begins to break down our ideas about what we deserve.
We like the idea of service, but we really don’t want to serve. And that’s because we believe that we deserve to have other people serve us. And that seems to be hardwired within us. It’s something that can only be remedied through prayer.
Let’s pray that God would help us let go of our need to be served so that we can serve others.
What if we begin to pray these kinds of prayers over ourselves and each other? If we did, I imagine that we would begin to see Jesus move among us in unfathomable ways.
And that’s because these are supernatural prayers. And what’s a more impressive miracle–that God would heal a person’s body, save their job, give them earthly favor…or that God would transform their heart?
These are miracles that God is longing to work in our lives. These are prayers he is longing to answer, if only we would ask.