I want to do better next year! I have realized over the past several months how random, wimpy, and small my prayers are for the children that matter most to me. I want to do better next year for the sake of the next generation—my children, my grandchildren, the children of College Park, and their children after them. I want to pray bigger, bolder, and more biblical prayers for them. I wonder if at least 1000 people at College Park and another 9,000 people beyond our church would join me in this effort?
This is a larger topic than I could communicate in an article, though. I have written a small book entitled Big, Bold, Biblical Prayers for the Next Generation as well as a five-minute video for Truth78.
This desire to do better began at the end of July in 2017, when I felt a rising sense of urgency in two areas of my ministry. First, we were approaching the launch of another Sunday school year and still needed 120+ more volunteers. Second, the other organization I lead (Truth78, formerly Children Desiring God) was facing some serious fiscal challenges. I was in over my head and feeling desperate. I prayed earnestly and intensely and sent a letter to some prayer partners urging them to pray with me.
Two thoughts were troubling me as I prayed. First, as urgent as the situation seemed, I had no assurance that God would provide the workers we needed, nor solve the fiscal problems at Truth78. God is not bound by some promise that guarantees a full roster of volunteers or the viability of an organization. In fact, he may be pleased to accomplish his purposes for the next generation without Truth78 and with half the number of workers that we think we need.
The second troubling thought was that I was feeling more urgent about relatively small things than I was about the greater things. Why was I more desperate about diminishing sales than about more than half of the children growing up in Christian homes forsaking the faith? Why was I not as desperate about the complacency that we see in the American church toward faithfully passing the truth on to the next generation? Why was I more desperate about our shortage of workers when half of our brothers and sisters around the world lack resources to help them with the instruction of their children?
Jesus’s words at the end of Matthew 6 influenced a significant shift in my approach to prayer and to the little problems I was facing. Jesus exhorts us not to be anxious, saying, “’What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?”…”But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matt. 6:26,28,31,33).
This passage suggests that my first prayers should be for the greater things—the big things—the Kingdom-sized things, as I trust God for the smaller things. Not that I should neglect praying for the lesser things, but rather I should prioritize my prayers toward the greater.
I realized that my lack of assurance was due to praying for things that were not necessarily linked to any explicit biblical truth or promise. When asking for more volunteers, there is a measure of confidence we can have based on God’s promise to provide for our needs. Compare that confidence to the confidence we have when we pray that every knee bow and “every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:11).
In other words, the more biblical my prayers are, the bolder I can be when I pray—which explains why I am inviting you to join me in praying big, bold, and biblical prayers for the next generation. What might God be pleased to do if he mobilizes thousands of us to pray this way in 2019? I can hardly wait to find out!
Free copies of Big, Bold, Biblical Prayers for the Next Generation are available at the College Park Next Generation Resource Table for a limited time. You can also download a free digital copy of the book.