First of all … pray

We’ve all heard it before: “just pray,” “keep me in your prayers,” “pray for me and my family.”

If you grew up in a church, near a church or around Christian people, you’ve heard someone talk about the power and importance of prayer. I’ve even seen celebrities — who don’t live very Christian lives — pray.

The idea of prayer has saturated our culture, but I don’t think that prayer really has. Real, authentic prayer has not saturated our culture. It hasn’t even saturated our churches yet.

Honestly think about what you do when the pastor prays on Sunday or when your leader prays to end Bible study. What are you thinking about? What has your focus during those few minutes? It’s likely not God. I know it isn’t for me a lot of the time.

Prayer has become a transitional tool in a lot of churches and lives. We need to redirect our focus back on prayer. We should put it above the worship music, the announcements and where we’re going to eat lunch once the service is over. It should be more than a brief blessing that allows us to finally eat dinner. Choirs and praise teams use prayers to get on and off the stage. Our prayers should be personal, passionate and geniune.

1 Timothy 2:1–8 says, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; …”

We must, first of all, pray. It is God’s desire for “all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Pray for that. Pray that God will change the heart of your unbelieving friend. Pray that God will put you in a situation to share the gospel with someone who doesn’t know Christ. Pray that God will shine brightly through missions trips and missionaries around the world.

Before a church goes door-to-door in a neighborhood inviting families to church, cover those streets with prayer. Before a team flies out for a missions trip, cover them and the city they will be ministering in with prayer. Before a church holds a fall festival or community outreach event, cover every chair in the room in prayer for the people that will be sitting there. Pray that God will stir something in every heart and that His glory will be known.

The next time your pastor or leader says “Let’s bow our heads and pray,” do it. Really do it. Pray. Pray that God will bring your heart closer to Him, and pray that He will bring the world closer to Him.

According to the passage in 1 Timothy, prayer should be our first priority. It should be our first instinct.

So let’s make it happen. Let’s change our cities, our states, our countries and our world one prayer at a time.

Jessica Ingram

Jessica Ingram is a regular contributor to The Rope. She also is the event coordinator for The Alabama Baptist/TAB Media. She graduated from Mississippi State University in 2017 and is a member of The Church at Brook Hills, Birmingham.

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