How to pray first, often and strategically


Recently, I posted about prayer on a social media account, because I was writing up course lessons for urban pastors. A wise friend commented and asked me the question, “How do you define praying strategically?”

I wanted to briefly answer that question in a blog post. (Be on the lookout in September for a more extended course on how a church can pray strategically for its community and world.) 

Praying strategically begins with looking at the model prayer Jesus gave us in Matthew 6. In this passage, the disciples came to Jesus and wanted to know how they were supposed to pray. After seeing all of the miracles, it was obvious Jesus had power beyond anything they could have imagined. 

There is nothing necessarily wrong with reciting the Lord’s Prayer from Matthew 6:9-13, as long as it does not lose its meaning in the repetition. However, it is meant more as a model prayer. The same model can be applied when it comes to leading your church in prayer. 

Here is a simple way to outline the Lord’s Prayer: 

- Worship of God – vs. 9

- Praying for God’s way to be had in the earth – vs. 10

- Praying for supplication – vs. 11: I believe the reason supplication is asked for here is to be able to carry out what has been prayed for in verses 9 and 10.

- Asking for and giving forgiveness – vs. 12 

- Asking for guidance toward righteousness and away from sin – vs. 13

Certainly you could come up with a different outline, but whatever outline you develop, the idea is that you would make these concepts a part of your prayer life. Thus, strategic prayer is centered on these concepts.  

Then, when you are leading your church’s prayer ministry or writing your church’s prayer guide, you continue to pray for the sick, but you also pray for evangelistic efforts in your community and beyond (vs. 10, “Your Kingdom come”), encourage people to worship in their prayer time (vs. 9 “Hallowed be your name”), and so on.   

For several years, the church where I pastored put out two prayer guides. The first was the intercessory prayer guide, which focused on those who were in the hospital, sick and had other needs. Our second was a corporate prayer guide, which focused on praying for our community, the needs of our church to reach our community, our discipleship efforts and other Kingdom-building efforts.  

I challenge you today to sit down and write out a prayer guide for your church that centers around the Lord’s Prayer. It can be very simple, as long as it guides people to pray a Kingdom vision over your church.

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