Many people struggle praying at all for any period of time, much less out loud or with a group. Many people have a variety of struggles with prayer. In our small group / bible study this week, we went through a very engaging intercession exercise.

While the exercise below was used during and in our married couple small group, going through it with your spouse would be wonderful. This exercise led our group in about 2 hours of communal prayer.

Prayer is one of my spiritual gifts. My parents have always said I was praying “like an adult” (whatever that means) at the age of 7. However, I definitely struggle with more “abstract” intercession like praying for my community, the world, etc. There are TONS of examples of this type of prayer in the Bible, so we should clearly engage with it regularly.

Prayer outside our contexts, cultures, and comforts creates an opportunity to move and focus our hearts on Christ in unique ways. Prayer for our local communities and world opens our minds to opportunities to “go and do”.

The Great Commission calls us to actively share our faith and the Gospel with people. The message of the Gospel is amazing, overwhelming, and somewhat offensive to many. Often, people are turned off by the reality of the messages of “sin” and repentance. Although we never need to apologize for Truth, these conversations can be uncomfortable, invite persecution, and cause conflict.

How will we ever be able to share our faith if we can’t even exercise spiritual disciplines in our comfortably safe churches and/or Bible studies?!? While praying aloud, praying on your knees, raising your hands, etc does not earn any kind of gold stars, you should definitely challenge your comfort against the realities of Christ and the Saints’ prayer lives in the Bible.

Prayer Challenge Setup & Instructions

This prayer exercise challenges us to pray outside our comforts and contexts. It starts with “self” / submissi0n to the Holy Spirit and moves outward to spouse / marriage, immediate family / close friends, extended family, our small group,children of parents in our small group, our church, our church leaders, our city / community, and our world.

Each prayer focus has SUGGESTED topics for people who struggle with “what to pray about”. You do not have to use any of the bullets, they are intended as suggestions for those that struggle with focus or content.

This small group a safe place. Be quiet, be still, sing a song, pray aloud, pray quietly, sing, and/or recite scripture.

In this time… simply talk with your Father, who happens to be the Creator of the Universe.

Prayer Exercise Purposes

  • Focus on, worship, and talk with God.
  • Grow and challenge our prayer lives.
  • Marvel at the fact that GOD CARES ABOUT and deeply knows us individually.
  • Be amazed and overwhelmed that God wants to listen to us, and honors our petitions.
  • Be humbled by and thankful for Christ’s sacrifice. Christ died for each of us.

Self – Selflessness, Sacrifice, Servitude

  • Submit your mind and heart to the Holy Spirit. Ask for a renewing of your mind and heart.
  • Submit your anxieties, discomforts, and doubts on prayer, intercession, and praying aloud.
  • Ask forgiveness for any sin struggles in your life.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to grow your grace, faith, boldness, and knowledge of the Word / Him.
  • Ask God to grow you in the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
  • Ask God to reveal Himself to you.
  • Thank God for Christ’s victory over Sin and death.
  • Deeper understanding of and passion for the Word.

Romans 8:26-27

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. Romans 8:26-27

Matthew 6:5-15

5“When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by others. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 6“But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. 7“And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. 8“So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.

9“Pray, then, in this way:  Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.  10 Your kingdom come, Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.  11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  13 And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

14“For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  15“But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.

James 5:13-18 …  The Prayer of Faith

13Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.16Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. 17Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.

Ephesians 6:18

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

Your Spouse / Marriage – Unity, Leadership, & Mutual Submission

  • Pray for their struggles, victories, direction, and discernment.
  • Ask to reveal anything you need to confess to your spouse.
  • Ask to reveal ways you can serve, honor, submit to and be the teammate of your spouse.

Genesis 2:18

18 The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

Ephesians 5:22-33

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[a] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[b] 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Colossians 3:18-1

18 Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.  19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

Hebrews 13:4

4 Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.

Your Immediate Family & Close Friends

  • The cohesiveness of your family.
  • Submit your family to serve God however and wherever he calls.
  • For your children or children-to-be to experience and deeply know Christ.
  • Thank God for his blessings and provision.

Psalm 51:1-12

1Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. 4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. 5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. 6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place. 7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. 8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. 9 Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. 10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”

Hebrews 7:23-25  …  Jesus Intercedes for Us

“Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”

Your Extended Family

  • Do you need to confess anything to someone in your family and ask forgiveness?
  • For the salvation of unbelievers.
  • For Christ to be shown and shine from our actions and how we engage with them
  • For their relationships / marriages and families.
  • For their situations, stresses, and struggles.
  • Opportunities and boldness to talk about Jesus… and the words to share.

1 Timothy 2:1-8 …  Paul Urges People to Pray for Others

1 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. 7 And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles.  8 Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.

Philemon 1:4-6

I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.

Our Small Group

  • Our direction and unity.
  • Your leaders.
  • For confession, love, authenticity, accountability, encouragement, and vulnerability.
  • Where and how we can serve our community and witness to unbelievers together.
  • The marriages in our group.
  • Some of the prayer requests and praises that have been shared in the past few months.

Proverbs 17:17

17 As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

Proverbs 18:24

24 One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

The Kids of Families in Our Group

  • Their future salvation. Their future relationships. The witness and instruction of their parents.
  • Wisdom and discernment for parents’ parenting.
  • Experience God in a deeply profound way.
  • For the adults kids of people in our small group – their lives, jobs, marriages, time in school, how/where they invest their time and resources.

Psalms 127:3-5

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

Matthew 29:14

14But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Matthew 18:2-6

And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

Our Church

  • Unity.
  • Ask God to reveal people that need you to serve and love on them.
  • Various ministries, their missions, provision of volunteers and resources.
  • Children learning about and living for God.
  • Increased tithing / giving and serving.
  • Spiritual protection over their homes and families.
  • Wisdom and discernment to make good decision. Sensitivity to the Spirit.
  • Energy for the physically and spiritually taxing work of ministry.
  • Loving accountability and challenge.

Church Leadership

  • Spiritual protection over their homes and families.
  • Wisdom and discernment to make good decision. Sensitivity to the Spirit.
  • Energy for the physically and spiritually taxing work of ministry.
  • Loving accountability and challenge.

Philippians 1:9-11 … Paul Prays for the Philippians

“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.”

1 Corinthians 12:12-27 … Unity & Diversity in the Body

12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.  27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

Matthew 18:20

20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.

The Riverside Community

  • Ask for revived interest in and experience of God.
  • The homeless, widows, elderly, single parents, and struggling families.
  • Recognized opportunities for our church to impact the community, schools, families, youth, parents, etc.

Nehemiah 1:5-6

“And I said, ‘O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father’s house have sinned.”

Our Country

  • Ask for revived interest in and experience of God.
  • For people to submit their lives to God.
  • Broken families.
  • Christians to show and share the Love of Christ.
  • For the unreached people groups – that God would make himself known.
  • For missionaries serving throughout the world
  • Openness to calling to go and serve.
  • Salvation for unbelievers.
  • Strength for persecuted believers.
  • Japan – separated families, lost loved ones, lost children.
  • Japan – the depravity of all the loss… for the purpose of finding Jesus.

The World / Japan

2 Thessalonians 3:1

1 As for other matters, brothers and sisters, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you.

2 Corinthians 1:10-11

10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11 as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.

Genesis 18:20-33  …  Abraham prayers for Sodom and God Listens

Then the LORD said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.” The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the LORD. Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare [b] the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing – to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge [c] of all the earth do right?”

The LORD said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.” Then Abraham spoke up again: “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city because of five people?” “If I find forty-five there,” he said, “I will not destroy it.” Once again he spoke to him, “What if only forty are found there?” He said, “For the sake of forty, I will not do it. “Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak. What if only thirty can be found there?” He answered, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.” Abraham said, “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty can be found there?” He said, “For the sake of twenty, I will not destroy it.”Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?”  He answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.” When the LORD had finished speaking with Abraham, he left, and Abraham returned home.