No, this is not a challenge to eat a sugar-free diet or exercise daily, if that’s what you’re thinking.
Actually, it’s a challenge to pray.
Yes, to pray.
If you’re like me, you know about fifty prayer requests, and you could probably spend an hour or more every day just lifting up each of those requests to the Lord. And unfortunately, most of us do not have the time (or the stick-to) to pray equally for all of those people every single day. We tend to have certain requests which are always at the forefront of our minds, and others that get pushed toward the back and only taken out once in a while to dust off and bring back into the light.
And I’m not going to condemn that. I don’t think prayer is meant to be a burden. I remember listening to “The Pineapple Story” CD’s and hearing about a lady who was so burdened down with all these prayer requests that were given, that she didn’t want anybody else to ask her to pray for them, because she just didn’t have the time! And I don’t think that’s what prayer is meant to be at all.
But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t pray at all! Or that we shouldn’t ever pray diligently for something or someone.
There are lots of stories in the Bible of people who set aside time and prayed diligently, every day, waiting for an answer. Esther asked her people to fast and pray for three days before she went in to the king. Daniel prayed and fasted for three weeks until God’s messenger showed up to explain what his vision meant. The early believers prayed together for forty long days before the Holy Spirit descended upon them at Pentecost.
There are modern stories, too. Even in our own American history, there is record of presidents calling for days of prayer and fasting. Or on a smaller scale, I learned a story about famous missionary Hudson Taylor’s mother, who locked herself in a room and decided to pray fervently for Hudson’s salvation. Many miles away, Hudson read a gospel pamphlet, was convicted of his sins, and turned to the Lord; and at that moment, his mother just knew that her prayer had been answered. If only we could have that kind of faith.
So what I would like to challenge you to do is to choose a prayer request. Choose something that is dear to your heart. Maybe, like Mrs. Taylor, you want to pray for someone’s salvation. Maybe, like the disciples, you are waiting for God’s direction. Maybe, like our American presidents, you want to lift up the state of affairs in our country. Or maybe you want to pray for someone’s healing.
Whatever it is, commit to praying for it every day. If you start today, Christmas will be Day 40 – that would be an easy date to remember.
Or, if you like, you can choose a different number – a goal that is more palatable to you. Maybe 21 days. Or even just one week. The point is to set aside time to pray specifically for that certain request. I’ve already picked mine out, and I can’t wait to see what ends up happening.
Because you know what? When we pray, things happen!
When Life Action Ministries came to our area a few years ago, it handed out pamphlets about prayer. I don’t have the pamphlets anymore, but I had copied down several of the quotes in my journal, so I shall share them here. Be inspired by them, and then get on your knees!
“What a man is, he is alone on his knees before God, and no more.” – Robert Murray McCheyne
“The greatest thing that anyone can do for God and man is pray. It is not the only thing; but it is the chief thing. The great people of the earth today are the people who pray. I do not mean those who talk about prayer; nor yet those who can explain about prayer; but I mean those people who take time to pray.” – S.D. Gordon
“Prayerlessness is that state where one prays less than he ought, than the Father desires, and than he knows he should.”
“The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, and prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray.” – Samuel Chadwick
So who’s ready to set the devil trembling?