The First 40 Days

The First 40 Days
Written by: Larry Elliott

A friend recently told me of one teenager’s response when asked his view of prayer: “God answers prayer four ways: yes, no, wait, and you’ve got to be kidding!” 😊 I wonder how many of my prayers got the latter answer?

“The Lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayers of the righteous.” Pr. 15:29

Last week we began our “First 40 Days” prayer initiative replete with “distraction fast” and 24-hour food fast – great start! How do we maintain the momentum, transform these principles and newfound practices into a lifelong habit? How do we become “…rooted and built up in him and established in the faith…” (as our ongoing study of Colossians will direct us)?

A recent Sermon Based Small Group handout provided some helpful tips and tools. (I have provided it in the link above and at the close of this writing for your use.)

I thought it might be a worthwhile exercise to note what Paul does not request of God on behalf of the Colossians:
  1. does not pray that they be protected from persecution
  2. does not pray for their physical wellbeing
  3. does not pray for their material prosperity
  4. does not pray for a comfortable or stress-free life

Here is what Paul does request of God on behalf of the Colossians:
  1. spiritual wisdom & understanding
  2. walk worthy, pleasing him
  3. bearing fruit
  4. increasing in the knowledge of God
  5. strengthened in his power
  6. endurance & patience & joy

And then he reminds us of these amazing truths, God “has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

How different might our prayer time be if we started praying for ourselves and others to have spiritual wisdom, to walk worthy, to have endurance and patience and joy?!! I must confess this is not generally the content of my prayers. My heart is often too focused on this life – our prayers are often filled with personal peace and affluence, (as Francis Schaeffer would say) health, protection, comfort! Lord, help us to break free from the chains of this world and see the eternal truths of your kingdom as we come to you!! How should I reshape prayer for my spouse, my children, my grandchildren, my friends, my world, and myself?

Pastor Mark has reminded us that this kind of prayer is hard. It takes thoughtful intentionality and discipline, but it will reap spiritual wisdom, humility, perspective, endurance and patience and joy. Perhaps the lack of these and the presence of anxiety, or anger or fear are God’s reminder that we have been too long absent from his presence.

There are many such passages that can be instructive in this way and enhance our ability to pray biblically. The attached worksheet can be a great starting point if you choose to attach scripture to your prayer time. Let me suggest that as you read God’s word you allow yourself to use his words and insights to pray for others as they come to mind. Several great texts are offered in this attachment but know that we can always pray God’s word (whatever passage you may be reading) back to him or for ourselves or others. Give it a try, it will likely flavor your prayers with the wisdom of God!!!

Handout Download

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