As we enter 2014, I’m looking forward to seeing what God has in store for our church this upcoming year. Because we know that we have an amazing Heavenly Father who loves us and desires for His glory to be made known through us, here are fourteen things I’ll be praying for this upcoming year – and I’d love it if you’d join me:
1. Pray for repentance and holiness
Repentance is a gift from God, not a burden to fear. Repentance literally means to have a change of mind. You turn from one thought to another. You turn away from sin and towards Jesus and His offer of salvation. It’s amazing that Jesus not only tells us to repent, but through the Holy Spirit, gives us the ability to do so. Let’s pray that we would hate sin, that we would see sin as God sees it. Pray that we would desire repentance, and that we would be able to put sin to death – growing in holiness and into the likeness of Jesus.
2. Pray for marriages
Marriage is hard work. Anyone who has been married for longer than a day knows that along with the joys of sharing your life with someone come the struggles that go along when you put two sinners together for an extended period of time. But marriage is also a beautiful picture of the Gospel – Jesus likens the relationship He has with the Church as a husband loving and serving His bride. Let’s pray that the Holy Spirit would allow husbands to work hard to love their wives as Christ loved the church, and that wives likewise would respect and love their husbands in response to how Jesus has loved them. How much stronger could our church be with flourishing, Christ-honouring marriages?
3. Pray for our children
Children are a blessing from God. There is no doubt about it: kids are fun, they are bundles of energy, and they too need a saviour. Just like their parents, our kids were born sinful and need to be awakened by the Holy Spirit to see the beauty of Jesus as Saviour and Lord. Let’s pray that we would love our kids unconditionally as our Heavenly Father loves us – through the eyes of Jesus, that we would teach them diligently to obey the Scriptures, and remind them that they have sinful parents who need Jesus just as much as they do, and that they would come to know Jesus at an early age. Let’s also pray for those who are unable to have children, for whatever reason, but would love to.
4. Pray for adoptions
It’s been amazing to see how many people within our church family have been blessed with the desire to adopt, demonstrating the amazing picture of God’s adoption of us as sons and daughters. Where these children would have otherwise had no real home and family, they now have families who love them, care for them, and provide for them. Let’s pray that God would continue His work in our church – calling more people to adopt, and calling for people to faithfully support those who have adopted, are adopting, or will be adopting.
5. Pray for our health
I’m not advocating that we can command God to heal us, or that with the right amount of faith we will never get sick or die, but we do serve the Creator of all things who is able and willing to heal. With that said, I know a lot of my own physical problems come from me not taking care of my own body, and not seeing how I use my body as the worship issue that it really is. If you’re like me, let’s pray that God would give us the desire to worship Him with our bodies – getting the proper exercise, diet, and rest that our bodies need – and that He would heal the sicknesses, diseases, and ailments that we suffer from. Pray that He would be glorified in us whether we suffer or whether we are free.
6. Pray for our workplaces
For many of us, the majority of our week is spent outside the home in our places of work. Forty hours or more are spent earning an income and providing for our families. God’s given us this incredible mission field for us to demonstrate His work in us. Let’s pray that we would be hard workers, that we would go out of our way to show love to our employers, employees, and co-workers in our actions, our work ethic, and our words.
7. Pray for our neighbourhoods
God has placed us in the very spot we now live. We are here for a purpose and that purpose is for us to glorify Him and make Him known. It’s a great opportunity for us to show the love Jesus has shown us by going out of our way to love our neighbours. Let’s pray that God would use us to love our neighbours and that we would have a desire to open our homes and our lives so that those who are close to us can see the transforming work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
8. Pray for a culture of hospitality
For most of us, the first time we walked into the doors of the Galaxy Theatre on a Sunday morning, we felt welcomed because there was someone who said, “hi” and who actually took an interest in us – trying to get to know us and probably even inviting us to be a part of Gospel Community. This probably wasn’t an official greeter, but just another person who went out of their way to be hospitable because they knew what it felt like to be welcomed not that long before. Let’s pray that as the church grows, we don’t lose our culture of hospitality. Pray that we, collectively, would welcome those we don’t know and that people would feel loved because of it.
9. Pray for our servants
As the church grows and there is more to be done to prepare for and serve on Sunday mornings, the need for servants who are willing to sacrifice their time and skills to help with all that needs doing increases. We have many faithful people who serve with setting up, tearing down, caring for our kids – both in the nursery as well as in the Gospel Project, running audio and video equipment, and more. In addition to the Sunday morning services, we also have servants who lead Gospel Communities, prepare music, handle finances, and host Bible studies or Redemption Groups throughout the week. Many of these people serve in multiple roles and dedicate large amounts of time for this mission. Let’s pray that God would continue to give rest to our servants, and that the proclamation of the Gospel and rejoicing in our Saviour would be the motivation for those who serve. I’d also like to pray that God would bring more people to serve – particularly in the areas of setting up on Sunday mornings, and for just the right person to take over the financial administration of our church.
10. Pray for generosity
We serve a generous God who does not withhold, but gives abundantly, even going so far as to give His only Son for our sake and His glory. It’s amazing when God allows us to participate in His generosity by realizing everything we have is a gift from Him to be used for His glory and our ultimate joy. When we see how the way we handle our finances can be a beautiful act of worship, it allows us to treat our money differently. Though God doesn’t need our money, He delights in seeing us use our money to further His kingdom. Let’s pray that God would give us generous hearts to give financially to the church and to those in need to demonstrate His sacrifice given for our account. Pray also that we, both individually, and as a church, would wisely use the money God has entrusted to us – not to make us comfortable, but to proclaim the Gospel.
11. Pray for our Gospel Communities
It wasn’t that long ago that Grace Fellowship existed as a single Gospel Community, gathering during the week and learning to live life together. At the end of 2013 we had six Gospel Communities throughout Saskatoon and the surrounding cities and towns. Let’s pray that God would call people to continue the mission through these Gospel Communities, that they would all grow and reproduce, and that new leaders would rise up to lead these communities as missionaries and shepherds.
12. Pray for our pastors
This past year, I’ve had the privilege of becoming one of your pastors, and it is with great joy I am able to serve and love our church in this way. We usually get to see the best things and the greatest joys that are happening within our church, but we also have to deal with the difficulties, the pains, and the hurts. Pastoring, like parenting, is both a great joy and a huge responsibility. Let’s pray that God would use Murray and I to love this church well, that we would be leaders in repentance, that we would have a great dependance on the Holy Spirit, and that we would be equipped to love and serve the church in order to equip you all for the work of the ministry. Also continue to pray that God would raise up godly leaders to join us in this calling. Pray for those in the process of becoming one of your pastors, and those who will one day be in the process.
13. Pray that more people in Saskatoon would meet Jesus
I’m not satisfied with the amount of people in this city who know Jesus. God’s glory is much too big for us to be content with people around us continuing to live their lives apart from their creator who loves them so much. Let’s pray for our neighbours, our co-workers, and our families – that the Holy Spirit would soften hearts, open minds, and give us boldness and an insatiable desire to share the truth of the Gospel with those around us.
14. Pray for big things to happen
Most of us don’t suffer from having a view of God that is too big. In fact, our view of God is often too small. We usually don’t think God will listen to us, which is why we don’t pray. But the truth is that God’s vision for our lives, our church, and our city is bigger than ours. When God’s glory is on display, it brings joy to all those who love Him. Though He is always at work, working out all things for the good of those who love Him, let’s pray that we’d see the hand of God in our lives and in our church in a crazy way that cannot be explained other than the fact that Jesus decided to do something extraordinary. Think of something big that the Holy Spirit could do within our church and beyond, and invite others to pray with you as well.
There are plenty of other things we can be praying for, and as we read through the Bible together this coming year, hopefully many more things will come to mind as we meditate on Scripture and allow the Holy Spirit to work in and on our hearts. If you find yourself praying but having a hard time knowing what to say, just take one or two of these items daily and you will likely not run out of things to talk with our Heavenly Father about.