“All of these with one accord…devoting themselves to prayer.” Acts 1:14 (ESV)
I’m so grateful to partner with you in prayer during the 31 days of July. No sign-ups or micromanaging. Just an open invitation to band together in the name of Jesus to ask God to do the works of Jesus because this is the will of God in Christ Jesus and the way of Jesus who has told us to “pray always and not give up.” (Luke 18:1) The main idea of our 31 days of prayer is to join Jesus, to the best of our understanding, in his priorities with our petitions. This is key to profound effectiveness in prayer. First John 5:14-15 reads,
“This is the confidence we have before him: If we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked of him.” (CSB)
Here are 7 recommendations for building and maintaining our Christ-centered focus over these 31 days of prayer. You are welcome to implement all of them or the few of them that resonate. Keep in mind throughout the month that our goal is the obedience of prayer, not lengthiness of prayer. Don’t get overwhelmed. And don’t quit! THIS MATTERS. God has not called us to prayer for nothing. If you miss a few days, just jump back in.
(My practice will be several minutes of praise and personal confession and repentance then proceeding with the following.)
Each day for 31 days:
1 – Start (every day!) with these personal requests of God:
- Jesus, increase my faith.
- Fill me with your Spirit.
- Lead me to pray according to your will, thinking and discerning with the mind of Christ.
- Enlarge my heart to love.
- Cause me to delight in you and to be a delight to you.
2- Read a segment of Scripture, ideally from one of the 4 Gospels.
The words of God teach us the will of God. For these 31 days, we particularly want the words of Jesus to direct how we pray and what we prioritize. (See John 15:7) Consider choosing one of the Gospels and reading a chapter each day and supplement the remaining days with chapters from Acts. For instance, I’m going to read a chapter of Matthew each day which will last me 28 days then I’m going to read the first 3 chapters of Acts for a total of 31 chapters in 31 days. (Luke is 24 chapters so you’d supplement 7 chapters of Acts, etc.) If you want your reading to be longer, choose 2 of the Gospels instead of one, reading 2 chapters a day, then supplement the remaining days in Acts.
3 – Make your requests.
- Glean anything from that day’s Scripture reading that lends itself to intercession. In other words, was the will or way of God made evident in any way that could shape your prayers? If so, start there. For instance, let’s take Day 1. Matthew 1 might be a little harder to use as a guide for prayer but Mark 1, Luke 1 and John 1 each offer great prompters for various petitions. Don’t be quick to pass by that genealogy in Matthew, however, as leadership for prayer! Notice the different kinds of people listed in it and recall some of their histories and thank God that, even this very day, he is continuing the lineage of faith.
- In addition to your gleanings from your reading, be led of His Spirit to ask him to do in this present era the kinds of things God alone can do. Here are some suggestions to choose from and to add to that echo the will of God as conveyed to us in various Scriptures. (If you’re new to this and need a little clearer leadership here, then choose four of these a day then, when you’ve prayed all of them, start again.)
*Do your will on earth as it is in heaven.
*Cause people to come to love you with all their heart, soul, mind and strength and to come to love their neighbor as themselves.
*Reveal yourself magnificently, powerfully and unmistakably. Enable people to know you and to discern your call.
*Glorify your great name, the only name under heaven by which people can be saved.
*Save lives temporally and, above all else, eternally.
*Spread your gospel with increased velocity throughout the globe.
*Open hearts to the gospel.
*Soften hardened hearts.
*Open minds to understand the Scriptures.
*Compel your people afresh to go forth into local communities and into the world, carrying your gospel.
*Cause great awakenings of faith to break out all over the world.
*Make your people bold in faith and love and hope.
*Cause your people to speak your words fearlessly, boldly, lovingly and relentlessly. Cause hearts and minds to be responsive.
*Do works of repentance that are unparalleled in our day.
*Cause your people to love one another well and to come to love people they have deeply disliked.
*Cause your people to please and honor you through profoundly deeper unity amid the diversity you dearly love.
*Cause your joy to be in us and our joy to be complete.
*Open the eyes of the spiritually blind. Cause fog and confusion to clear.
*Cause ears to hear you. Turn down the volume on the confusing, distracting cacophony. Help us to know your voice when we hear it.
*Send workers out into the harvest fields.
*Disciple your people and teach us how to more effectively disciple others.
*Make growth in Christlikeness the high priority of discipleship.
*Quench the works of the flesh and produce the fruit of the Spirit.
*Circumcise hearts to love you and love others.
*Cause your people to love, not only in word, but in deeds.
*Deliver from sins and strongholds and addictions.
*Expose darkness by your light and to your light.
*Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
*Cause your people to have their/our eyes opened to the devil’s devices and schemes and to stand strong against him.
*Heal tormented minds and torn up bodies.
*Build your church. Refine. Purify. Unify.
*Make your people quick to conviction of the Spirit and true repentance.
*Cause people to love your words.
*Cause your word to spread rapidly and be honored.
*Equip your people in their spiritual gifts and lead them where to use them.
*Lead your people into healthy communities of faith.
*Restore individuals, marriages, families, friends, churches, communities.
*Break strongholds of pride, selfishness and narcissistic leadership.
*Break strongholds of bitterness and unforgiveness.
*Empower us to forgive one another, to ask forgiveness of one another and to accept and embrace our own forgiveness from you and from others.
*Cause your people to turn from hatefulness and unkindness, from slander, coldness and malice.
*Mature your people. Make your people humble but hearty. Strengthen and encourage and fortify.
*Forgive us of our hypocrisy and duplicity and grant that we’d be wholehearted and single-minded toward you and your will and ways.
*Profoundly increase the humility and generosity of your people.
*Renew your wonders in our day according to your will.
*Increase your works of healing in our day according to James 5.
*Teach us your ways. Teach us to pray.
*Meet needs miraculously and creatively in ways that prompt great praise.
*Cause your people to be enduring and persevering even in affliction, pain or persecution.
*Free people from idolatry.
*Free people from oppression.
*Anoint and empower your people all over the world to boldly take up your ministry as described in Luke 4, preaching good news to the poor and recovery of sight to the blind and freedom for the oppressed.
*Fill your people with compassion for a lost and hurting and angry world.
*Cause your grace to your people to not be in vain.
*Form within your people a heart for the poor and marginalized and turn it into action that makes a remarkable difference.
*Enable your people to love our enemies and bless those who curse us.
*Have mercy on this present generation of believers and help us to love well, live well, serve well, suffer well and die well.
*Cause your people to abundantly increase in expectancy and anticipation of your coming and of the new creation.
4 – Pray for a different nation each day. You can’t go wrong here. There is not a single nation or people-group God does not want to touch with the gospel of Jesus. I have prayed according to the Operation World manual many times but right now I’m praying alongside Voice of the Martyrs and their 2021 prayer calendar. I will supply a picture of their July page at the bottom of this post in case you’d like to join along but I hope you might also be prompted to pray for other nations unmentioned so we don’t only cover these.
5 – Keep a record. You don’t need something fancy. All you need is a pen and some paper. Each day jot down what portion of Scripture you read, what specifics God led you to pray and what nation you prayed for. If, as you’re praying, God leads you to intercede for specific people, places, organizations, churches or ministries, jot down what you prayed (just as you’ll do for nations). Keep it for reference in the future. I fully believe you will see some answers in due time and, together someday before God’s throne, he will make known to us why he called us to prayer and what he accomplished in response to those prayers.
6 – End each time of prayer with these confessions, whether in these words or your own:
- Thank you, Lord, for the absolute certainty that my prayers today mattered.
- Thank you, Lord, for my brothers and sisters with whom I gather in prayer over these 31 days. Bless them personally, Lord, encourage them and give them eyes to see you at work.
- (This one is especially important.) Do abundantly more than all we could ask or think.
- According to Colossians 4:2, help us to continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
7 – Ask God to do a fresh work of his Spirit in your own life through these 31 days.
No words big enough to thank you for joining in 31 days of fervent, focused prayer. By the grace of God, some things will be different because we, as different as we are, gathered around the one name of Jesus and prayed. And we, brothers and sisters, will be different.
Voice of the Martyrs Prayer Calendar