40 Day Challenge

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.

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?


7 thoughts on “40 Day Challenge

  1. What is prayer? It is just a conversation with God. If we look at that way – maybe we don’t have to be so formal about it and therefore it won’t seem so scheduled.
    He just wants us to talk to Him like we would in confidence to a friend.

    Love, Grandpa


    • Hi Poppop,

      You are absolutely right. Prayer is a conversation with the Lord! Once that really gets engrained in our minds, it is no problem to send up prayers to God all throughout the day, and especially over the past three years or so, I have learned to embrace that aspect of my relationship with God.

      I did not mean to suggest that we have to formally schedule prayer, necessarily. I was just trying to point out how it can be difficult to remember to always lift up a certain prayer request. I have important requests that I would like to lay before the Lord every day – “pray without ceasing” – but then in my humanness I get distracted and forgetful, and days or weeks can go by before I bring it before Him again. And as I pointed out, there have been many times throughout history, Biblical and modern history, where people have chosen to set aside certain times to pray and/or fast for specific reasons. I think that setting aside those specific times shows God how serious we are about seeking Him in those matters – we’re not just half-heartedly sending up a prayer now and then, but we are diligently getting down on our knees, sacrificing our time to earnestly seek Him on behalf of someone, whether ourselves or someone else.

      So my 40 Day Challenge was to encourage me to remember to be serious about my prayers and to bring a certain request to the Lord daily. But of course, all throughout the day, I will still be carrying on my conversations with God. 🙂

      Thanks for bringing that up, Poppop, and reminding us that prayer is not just about religion, but about a relationship; I probably should have mentioned that aspect in my original post. It doesn’t matter so much what we say, as it does what is behind what we say. We don’t have to be all formal in our prayers, trying to sound all fancy – God accepts the simple, heartfelt prayer of the tax collector over the fancy, repetitious prayer of the Pharisee. And He does want us to come into His Presence at any time – not just before meals or during prayer times at church.

      So to anyone else who reads this – if you’re going to accept the 40 Day Challenge, don’t let that replace your throughout-the-day-prayers to Him!

      Love you lots!


  2. Hi Alisa,

    I talk to the Lord many times throughout the day also and feel it’s praying. I do pray specifically for some people too! The most important thing is just to have conversation with the Lord as much as possible.

    Love you,


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