Today’s task has two parts. First, spend time praying for your country’s leaders. Whether or not you believe those in your country’s government are the best people for the job, they are the people whom God has chosen to lead your country right now, and they need His help. If you aren’t sure who most of those leaders are, look them up and pray individually for at least those at the top. For Americans, here is a good place to start. Also, pray for your entire government collectively.
For the second part of the task, we’d like you to take a prayer walk. You can either walk around your own neighborhood, apartment complex, dorm building or other immediate area of residence, or you can choose another neighborhood or even a business park. Each time you pass a residence or business, pray for those who occupy that space. If there is anything about the building's outside appearance that could help make your prayers more specific, feel free to use that. But in general, pray for the relationships among occupants, relationships between occupants and their communities (especially with Christians), and for the Gospel to spread rapidly in these places. The time or distance you spend walking and praying is up to your discretion.
It's easy to take prayer for granted. When you bow your head for every meal and several times throughout a church service, it becomes routine. It becomes mundane. It becomes an empty ritual. But only for us ... God still listens to our prayers, and while I suspect He might roll His eyes a little at yet another "and let this burger taste alright," I know He's still listening.
So it's important to be intentional in our prayer. In one of my Bible study small groups, a friend pointed out how frustrated he was that everyone always wanted to pray for "Aunt Suzie's illness." His argument wasn't that her sickness was insignificant, but that no one ever seemed to want to pray for the big things.
We'd pass around a sheet of paper for prayer requests at the end of our study time. It would be filled with things like "pray for relief from my allergies" or "ask that I do well in my job interview." My friend's argument was that we should be praying prayers to bring our will in line with God's. Should we pray for relief from suffering if we haven't yet learned a God-ordained lesson? Should we pray for success in a career path that's rebellious to our calling from God?
Long discussions about this have really changed my attitude towards prayer. We need to pray big prayers. God is powerful enough to do anything, and while it's right that we thank him for that with which He's blessed us ("thank You for this meal"), we should move beyond mere human concerns ("please help us win the Super Bowl") and focus on the concerns of His kingdom ("please guide us in good stewardship of the resources You've seen fit to give us").
A book I'm reading referenced a certain passage in 2 Kings with regard to the power of "big" prayers:
They went to the Jordan and began to cut down trees. 5 As one of them was cutting down a tree, the iron axhead fell into the water. “Oh no, my lord!” he cried out. “It was borrowed!”
6 The man of God asked, “Where did it fall?” When he showed him the place, Elisha cut a stick and threw it there, and made the iron float. 7 “Lift it out,” he said. Then the man reached out his hand and took it.
Only God would make an axhead float on water, and only if Elisha asked him to. This is but a small display of His power and faithfulness in our time of need, but it definitely gets the point across to me.
So today I took a walk through the neighborhood. I passed by 15 houses, a strip mall, and a church. Some of the houses belong to families I know. The people I see in the neighborhood during the week, when I go out running, or when I walk to the grocery store. Some belong to strangers or newcomers to the area who would benefit from growing relationships with their neighbors. But everyone earned a few moments of my time today, and as much prayer as I was able to give them - and will continue to give - as I passed by.