I'm convinced that weak prayer is one reason the North American church is not making much difference. If you want your church to be a threat to the enemy, I challenge you to consider praying some of these really hard prayers today.

  1. "Lord, if you don't forgive the people I lead, blot me out of your book, too." Moses' prayer of Exodus 32:32 for his rebellious, idolatrous people is an expression of leadership love hard to achieve. Who is that rebellious person you must love intensely in this way? 
  2. "I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. I have done evil in your sight." All of us know we must confess our sin, but I suspect that not many of us deeply grieve our sin like David did in Psalm 51. What sins must you lament and confess to God today?
  3. "Father, I consecrate myself so that others may be sanctified in truth." Jesus' words in John 17:19 were His commitment to go the cross so others might follow the Father fully and faithfully. Do you so walk in holiness today that if others modeled their life after yours, you would be pleased to stand before the Father?
  4. "Lord God, answer me, answer me, that the people may know that you are God." That's the risky, passionate prayer of Elijah when he confronted the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18:37—and it's a prayer of faith that challenges us. What's the issue in your life for which you must ardently plead with God to make himself known? 
  5. "I could almost wish to be accursed if that's what it takes for ________ to be saved." That's Paul's expression of his heart in Romans 9:1-3. Whom do you love with that depth of love? Whose name would you put in the blank?
  6. "Here am I, Lord, send me." No evidence in Isaiah 6:8 suggests that Isaiah yet knew how hard his mission would be, but he nevertheless volunteered to be God's spokesperson. Apparently, seeing the holiness of God makes one willing to do anything He demands. Are you willing to say, "Lord, send me" even if He doesn't give you all the details?
  7. "Please bless ________, who has mistreated me." Again, you fill in the blank. Obedience to Jesus' words in Luke 6:28 means that we love our enemies and pray for those who hurt us. Who's that person for you today? 
  8. "God, I thank You for this never-ending, always aching, ever-before-me thorn in my side." Paul showed us in 2 Corinthians 12:10 why we need to pray this prayer—it is in our weakness that God is most glorified as our strength. Do you delight in the thorn in your life today?
  9. "Not my will, but yours be done." This is the Luke 22:42 "blank check" prayer that says, "God, I'm yours, whatever that means, wherever that takes me, no matter the cost." Can you really give God a blank check today and be a leader who follows Him with abandon?
  10. "Even so, come Lord Jesus." The Bible ends with this prayer of John in Revelation 22:20. Knowing all that Jesus' return means—not only our being with Him eternally in heaven, but also our standing before Him to answer for our lives—can you genuinely pray this prayer today?

Spend some time with the Lord today. The North American church needs leaders who have knees worn out by prayer.

Chuck Lawless is dean and vice president of graduate studies and ministry centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, where he also serves as professor of evangelism and missions. In addition, he is global theological education consultant for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.

This article originally appeared at chucklawless.com.

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