Scriptures compare the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to rain; special, abundant quantities of the Spirit preparing the soil for harvest. Consider dedicating the beginning of this new year to leading your congregations in special prayer—thirty one specific topics; one for each day of January.
It is time to pray! Be specific, timely, and inclusive. Pray for . . .
1. Yourself, your spouse, your children. Determine to rededicate your life and ministry to Jesus; making His priorities your priorities. Satan will do everything possible to destroy your marriage or to weaken its joy. Begin the year with apology, if needed, and affirmation that is always welcome. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you sensitively minister to “your first mission field.”
2. Peace. We just commemorated the birth of the Prince of Peace. Pray for goodwill to flourish. “Let there be peace on earth; and let it begin with me.”
3. Unity. On the night of His betrayal, unity of His believers was the focus of Jesus’ prayer. His desire still echoes: “that they might be one!”
4. New believers. Jesus prayed for those who would believe through the preaching of His disciples. Jesus understands that new believers must be surrounded by love and fortified by prayer.
5. Your preaching. Ask the Spirit to help you provide the best spiritual menu. Planning your sermons a year ahead enables the Holy Spirit to direct your thinking along the plan you have established.
6. The lost. Praying for lost souls does not change God’s mind about their condition or make Heaven more willing to save. Praying for the lost changes your mind as you begin to see the lost through Heaven’s eyes.
7. Change. Something must become different. Insanity believes we can continually repeat the past, yet experience different results. Ask for a burst of holy creativity.
8. Singles. Thousands of unmarrieds, many of them young professionals, become isolated from the church when they experience only couple-oriented messages. Seek to involve every “one” in church life.
9. Disgruntled. Almost every congregation harbors unhappy critics focusing on traumas, alarmism, extremist views, and peripheral agendas. These well-intentioned dragons cause havoc, especially when their venom combines with peculiar heresies or when they major in minors. Pray that they will convert or leave.
10. Public servants. Your community depends upon police, firefighters, teachers, hospital administrators, emergency technicians, and countless others who maintain necessary services. Pray for these “ministers” and honor them in your worship services.
11. Pray-ers. Ask the Lord for prayer warriors who will focus on your church, lead the spiritual battle against evil, and encourage those needing specific, intercessory prayer. Remember, “prayer does not change things; prayer changes people!”
12. Prodigals. Virtually every family could list those who have journeyed far, even if they have never left home. Ask heaven to make your life a witness to welcome them back.
13. Neighbors. On our streets live divorced/single parents, overworked and overstressed young adults alongside retirees, gays, and secularists next to those from the religious right, as well as gracious neighbors from various national, racial, and religious heritages. Pray they will consider Jesus as a result of living near us.
14. Givers. Rather than bemoaning traumatic consequences of global recession, seek thousands to come to Jesus who will bring the treasure of their hearts along with the treasure in their pockets. Design ministries to captivate commitment so their hearts will follow their treasure into God’s mission.
15. Women leaders. Seek to deploy this 70 percent of our members. Emphasize the power of women’s evangelistic witness (the Samaritan woman’s revival, Mary’s personal resurrection testimony, Priscilla’s instructing influence, and Phoebe’s congregational leadership). When you have employment opportunities, consider a woman.
16. Unloved saved ones. Every congregation has faithful individuals who rarely experience any expression of love. Organize your members to invite others into their homes and fellowship circles. They might entertain angels!
17. Hope. Imagine the audacity of hope to believe this world can move beyond national, racial, class, and social warfare. Jesus guarantees this when He returns—the Blessed Hope. Jesus can begin it now in your congregation— blessed assurance!
18. War. Pray for combatants on both sides of conflict. Pray for their spouses, children, and parents. Encourage chaplains and congregations who minister to military forces.
19. Discernment. Scripture invites you to pray for wisdom that you lack. God’s Word, the Holy Spirit, and Christ’s body—the church—will guide you to discover His will.
20. National leaders. This is inauguration day in the United States. Join me in praying for our new president and for governmental leaders everywhere. “When we pray for God to change leaders, we affect them and everyone who follows them. Praying for our leaders results in an atmosphere conducive to the spreading of the gospel” (John C. Maxwell, The Maxwell Leadership Bible, Maxwell Motivation Publishers; see 1 Tim. 2:1–4).
21. Revival. Pray now for an abundant experience during the Week of Prayer you will conduct later in the year. Plan, promote, prepare, and produce creative, participative services during that special week and watch the Spirit bless your efforts. Reform follows revival.
22. Maturity. Discipleship moves new believers beyond conversion to spiritual maturity. Jesus did not commission seeking for more entries, He envisioned more disciples. Any plans that separate evangelism from followup has schemed its own defeat.
23. Holiness. Spiritual disciplines should mark our lives. Pastoral responsibility includes specific guidance in those disciplines. Emphasize the ways to holiness—Bible study, prayer, fellowship, witnessing, and obedience. Sanctification accompanies those on this path.
24. Teachers. Adventists spend more denominational money on parochial education than all other ventures combined. Support the Lord’s empowerment of our teachers as evangelists. Pray for all of our school teachers.
25. Vision. Consider big plans and bold ventures. Vision is different than sight. Mere sight surveys reality and wonders why things remain the same. Vision sees potential and claims the promise of power to achieve. Gather your leaders and brainstorm ideas that challenge.
26. Colleagues. Pastors of every denomination face daily challenges in shepherding the flocks that Christ has given them. Pray with and for ministers. Participate in your local Ministerial Association. Share professional development opportunities. Request their prayers for you.
27. Elders. These men and women are your own pastoral team to make the Lord’s work effective in your church. Pray for and with them. Gather them often to seek Heaven’s favor. Remember that health care administrators, literature evangelists, departmental leaders, and conference officials are integral teammates.
28. Big cities. Jesus loves people. People exist in cities. If you could effectively minister there, ask the Lord to deploy you where millions of residents need your spiritual influence. Flee to the cities to live godly lives in the ungodly environments.
29. More workers. Jesus never asked us to pray for the harvest. The harvest is ready! Thousands are on the verge of the kingdom, waiting to be gathered. Jesus commands us to pray the Lord of the harvest will send forth reapers.
30. Love. Do you want more effective outreach? The secret is simple— loving and lovable Christians. Friends win friends to Jesus. Ask the Savior to help you be more loving.
31. The end. Pray that Jesus comes soon. When I pastored, I preached the last week of every month on the Second Coming. Proclaim the Blessed Hope and you will discover your members keenly desiring the appearance of our Redeemer.
Even so come, Lord Jesus!