Core Prayers

Are there certain things you find yourself praying over and over, such as when you pray for yourself, your family, and your ministry?

I do. I have a list of some things I pray regularly. These have become some of my core prayers.

I’m sure there is no perfect list of core prayers, and I’m sure it varies from person to person and situation to situation. That said, here are some of my core prayers.

Personal & Family

  • Wisdom
  • Love
  • Health
  • Peace & Protection
  • Strength & Energy

Leadership & Ministry

  • Wisdom & Knowledge (“Give me wisdom and knowledge so I can lead this people, because no one can govern this great people of yours without your help.” 2 Chronicles 1.10, CEB)
  • Clean Hands & Pure Heart
  • Courage
  • Clear Vision
  • Passion & Energy
  • Patience & Persistence
  • Fruit & Joy
  • Change & Transformation
  • Favor & Power

For more on praying for leadership and ministry, see A Prayer for Transformational Leadership.

On favor and power, especially for preaching, I often pray Acts 4.29 and a prayer based on some of Paul’s words …

“Lord, … enable your servants to speak your word with complete confidence.” (Acts 4.29, CEB)

“Lord, please let my message and my preaching be presented, not with wise convincing words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power and with deep conviction … so that people’s faith won’t depend on human wisdom but on the power of God (based on 1 Corinthians 2.4-5 and 1 Thessalonians 1.5), for ‘God’s kingdom isn’t about words but about power” (1 Corinthians 4.20).

During the course of my leadership at Centre Grove (almost 7 years, so far), four prayers have become part of our church culture …

What are some of your core prayers, for yourself and your family, and for your leadership and ministry?

What If We Prayed Before We Complained?

A few years ago, I wrote a post on The Balancing Act by Bishop Robert Schnase. Recently, I’ve been thinking about something Bishop Schnase wrote.

Bishop Schanse relayed a conversation he had with a woman, who thought churches should do a better job of caring for pastors. Bishop Schnase writes …

She said that she did not think anyone should ever be allowed to complain about a pastor unless that person was also in constant prayer for the pastor. We should all desire our pastors to succeed, to fulfill their mission, to be strong and whole and healthy, and so we should pray for them, their families, their work, and their ministry. Imagine if every time we felt annoyed, discouraged, or disappointed by a pastor, we prayed for them with even greater eagerness and sincerity. Imagine if we felt as much or more an obligation to pray for a pastor as we feel to criticize or correct a pastor.

This is important because when complaining comes from selfishness, it tears down, but when it comes from a place of prayer, it can build up.

But, it doesn’t apply only to pastors. It applies to everyone and everything in the church–every ministry, every leader, every person.

What if the whole church operated this way toward everyone and everything in the church? What if we prayed before we complained?

Think You’re Safe?

Yesterday, I read through Jeremiah 7, and I thought about people who think they’re “safe” because they go to church, or something like that, but really don’t walk with God or obey God.

The prophet Jeremiah says on God’s behalf, “Don’t trust in lies: ‘This is the Lord’s temple! The Lord’s temple! The Lord’s temple!'” (Jeremiah 7.4, CEB).

God challenges this idea, saying …

No, if you truly reform your ways and your actions; if you treat each other justly; if you stop taking advantage of the immigrant, orphan, or widow; if you don’t shed the blood of the innocent in this place, or go after other gods to your own ruin, only then will I dwell with you in this place. (4.5-7).

God tells the people what they can do with their so called acts of worship: “Add your entirely burned offerings to your sacrifices and eat them yourselves!” (7.21).

God corrects the people …

On the day I brought your ancestors out of the land of Egypt, I didn’t say a thing—I gave no instructions—about entirely burned offerings or sacrifices. Rather, this is what I required of them: Obey me so that I may become your God and you may become my people. Follow the path I mark out for you so that it may go well with you.” (7.22-23)

Instead of being teachable, repenting of their sin, and experiencing transformation, “they didn’t listen or pay attention. They followed their willful and evil hearts and went backward rather than forward” (7.24).

And, God laments …

From the moment your ancestors left the land of Egypt to this day, I have sent you all my servants the prophets—day after day. But they didn’t listen to me or pay attention; they were stubborn and did more harm than their ancestors. When you tell them all this, they won’t listen to you. When you call to them, they won’t respond. (7.25-27)

May God forgive us when we are stubborn, when we become blind, and when we stop listening to God’s guiding voice! May we always remain teachable so that God can continue to lead us and form us!

What Happens When Jesus is Moved With Compassion

Recently, I was reading in Matthew 20 where Jesus asked two blind men, “What do you want me to do for you?” They said, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.”

I love what the Scripture says next: “Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him” (Matthew 20.32-34, NET).

Mark tells about a man with leprosy who “came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed.” The man said, “If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.”

Again, Scripture reports, “Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be healed!’ Instantly the leprosy disappeared, and the man was healed” (see Mark 1.40-42).

There are other similar occurrences in Scripture. Each time Jesus feeds the multitudes, we’re told, Jesus “had compassion on them” (e.g., Mark 6.34; Mark 8.2; Matthew 14.14).

Often, when Jesus saw crowds of people who seemed lost, he was moved with compassion.

I’ve always loved Matthew 9.35-38

35 Jesus traveled through all the towns and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 He said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is great, but the workers are few. 38 So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.’

Jesus compassion always leads to action, whether healing, feeding, providing, or calling others to serve!

What would it look like if we too were moved with compassion?

God, break our hearts for what breaks yours!

“Essentialism”

Ever since I heard about Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown, I was interested in reading it. I finally got around to it, and I was not disappointed!

There’s so much in the book, it’s impossible to review it all here. But here are some of my favorite thoughts.

McKeown describes the premise of Essentialism this way …

only once you give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all, to stop saying yes to everyone, can you make your highest contribution towards the things that really matter.

McKeown highlights the phrase, “Less but better” to describe the way of the Essentialist.

The way of the Essentialist is the relentless pursuit of less but better. It doesn’t mean occasionally giving a nod to the principle. It means pursuing it in a disciplined way. … It is about pausing to constantly ask, “Am I investing in the right activities?” … Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done.

We all have many options, and many of us try to do it all, or at least as much as we can. McKeown states, “The way of the Essentialist rejects the idea that we can fit it all in. Instead it requires us to grapple with real trade-offs and make tough decisions.”

McKeown asserts that Essentialism …

is a discipline you apply each and every time you are faced with a decision about whether to say yes or whether to politely decline. It’s a method for making tough trade-offs between lots of good things and a few really great things. It’s about learning how to do less but better so you can achieve the highest possible return on every precious moment of your life.

Many of us live with three assumptions …

  • “I have to.”
  • “It’s all important.”
  • “I can do both.”

McKeown suggests replacing these false assumptions with “three core truths” …

  • “I choose to.”
  • “Only a few things really matter.”
  • “I can do anything but not everything.”

McKeown warns, “When we forget our ability to choose, we learn to be helpless.”

Being an Essentialist requires the ability to say no, even to good things. McKeown notes, “saying yes to any opportunity by definition requires saying no to several others.” He argues …

Many capable people are kept from getting to the next level of contribution because they can’t let go of the belief that everything is important. But an Essentialist has learned to tell the difference between what is truly important and everything else.

Becoming an Essentialist requires making trade-offs.

Essentialists see trade-offs as an inherent part of life, not an inherently negative part of life. Instead of asking, “What do I have to give up?” they ask, “What do I want to go big on?” The cumulative impact of this small change in thinking can be profound.

McKeown discusses some important disciplines like focus, play, and sleep.

We must make time and space to focus. McKeown argues …

the faster and busier things get, the more we need to build thinking time into our schedule. And the noisier things get, the more we need to build quiet reflection spaces in which we can truly focus.

McKeown emphasizes the role of play. He suggests …

play is essential in many ways. … play has the power to significantly improve everything from personal health to relationships to education to organizations’ ability to innovate. … play broadens the range of options available to us.”

Play is also “an antidote to stress.”

Sleep is important, as well. “Essentialists … see sleep as necessary for operating at high levels of contribution more of the time.”

McKeown contends, “We aren’t looking for a plethora of good things to do. We are looking for the one where we can make our absolutely highest point of contribution.”

I love the statement McKeown makes toward the end of the book. He asks …

If you take one thing away from this book, I hope you will remember this: whatever decision or challenge or crossroads you face in your life, simply ask yourself, “What is essential?” Eliminate everything else.

So, what is essential for you?