Welcome to our annual Prayer Series! This year, Val’s expanding on each of the different prompts that you’ll find in our prayer journal. No journal required to benefit from the practical tips you’ll find here, but if you’d like to check out our 2019 Prayer Journal Collection, click here!
These days, it’s easy to feel like we need a bigger and bigger platform to reach people and make a difference. We see influencers with hundreds of thousands of followers sharing about Jesus and it just seems really efficient and if we can’t make that big of an impact, why bother?
I remember Jennie Allen’s opening talk at If Gathering a few years ago. She just emphasized how much the mentor she had made a difference in her life. Basically, IF would not exist without this woman. This woman didn’t set out to influence a global women’s ministry. She sought out to make a difference in Jennie’s life.
I want to get back to that. I want to get back to remembering that changing one life is LIFE-CHANGING. That change doesn’t have to come in groups of three or a full tribe but that one life changed is what God is calling us to. And in our effort to reach the masses, we forget to make it personal. I think the chances of our friends accepting Jesus into their heart by way of blog post is far less than by way of personal relationship.
Let me tell you a little story about a girl named Angela.
She had a rougher beginning of life than most. Her mom died in a plane crash when she was just 3-years-old. She grew up those early years without a mother figure and then had a stepmom (and a second) that she didn’t get along with. She went off track in her early teens and made a lot of mistakes that she’d admit to you today. But she had a grandma who prayed for her throughout her life and eventually, one day she asked Jesus into her heart and started going to BSF (Bible Study Fellowship). She became a prayer warrior and taught her daughter (me) to pray.
Without those prayers my great-grandma Billie prayed for my mom, I don’t think Val Marie Paper would be here today. Val Marie Paper is blessed to hear about a ton of lives changed through our products but had one old prayer warrior not lifted up her granddaughter, my story and so many others could be vastly different. She had no idea the impact she made and neither will we all the time.
Our pastor said something really important a few weeks ago. He said that Christians can talk about evangelism with such a heavy burden like if we mess this up, we’ve just signed our friends’ death sentence. He challenged us to see it differently though and reminded us that God is constantly pursuing our friends. He loves them more than we ever could. He invites us to be part of this process, but God is almighty and His plans will not be thwarted by our decisions.
Getting to be used by God and witness a friend get to know the Lord is a privilege and is one more way we get to know God deeper. To witness a friend who we never thought would come to God, actually come to know God, we get to experience a God of impossible things. We witness a God who isn’t bound by our own understanding. We witness a God who is gracious and full of mercy to meet us where we are.
Why would we not want to be a part of that?
Here are 4 kinds of people to pray for:
1. Your family and friends
I think sometimes it’s easiest to forget to pray for those closest to us. We can see them as “too far gone” or know too much about how they’ve been scarred by the church. It can feel impossible especially if we’ve already spent years prayer with little or no change. Do not give up. God calls us to pray persistently. Because you don’t hear a response after one prayer or even a decade doesn’t mean it’s a no. You know my mom’s story? Here it continues. She prayed for 7 years for my dad to become a believer too. Recently she talked about how she didn’t consistently pray for those first few years but did in the later years.
2. Your neighbors
Your proximity to your neighbors means you get to be there consistently. You can serve and be the hands and feet of God. You can watch dogs and get the mail. You can drop off food and rake their leaves. You have a unique opportunity for them to see a difference in you as you pray for them.
3. Celebrities & Public Figures
It might be odd to hear but in college, I was obsessed with Michelle Branch and prayed for her like she was my bestie. I have no idea what her faith is, but at the time, I felt compelled to pray for her. As much attention as we can get celebrities today, do we think to pray for them? I’ll be honest, my Michelle Branch was an exception to my typical way of living just looking at insta-pictures and moving on so I’m challenged with this one too.
4. Pray for that person you see once in public
You gain nothing from it. You will likely never know the outcome of their life but there’s something sweet in that too (Matthew 6:4). It reminds me of the opportunity we have and how our prayers are not rationed. We can literally pray for anyone who meets our line of vision. There is no scarcity in prayers!
In our laundry list of prayers, salvation can be toughest because it seems too big. But we have to remember who we are praying to. We are praying to the God who changed the heart of Paul, a Christian-killer and transformed him into one of the greatest missionaries for God. We are praying to the God who’s changed the hearts of atheist who set out to prove God didn’t exist only to find Him real and unarguable.
As you fill out this section of your prayer journal, drop to your knees when you reach this section and don’t glaze over it. This will impact the kingdom of God forever.
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NEXT: Sweet Friends
Val, this spoke straight to my heart…and fear! “Our pastor said something really important a few weeks ago. He said that Christians can talk about evangelism with such a heavy burden like if we mess this up, we’ve just signed our friends’ death sentence. He challenged us to see it differently though and reminded us that God is constantly pursuing our friends. He loves them more than we ever could. He invites us to be part of this process, but God is almighty and His plans will not be thwarted by our decisions.”
Bible study fellowship 1991 and for 15 ears later has changed my life. I did not know this part of your story Valerie. Praising God for this post.