By Cindi McMenamin, Crosswalk.com
I know you’ve said it before – or at least thought it: “I wouldn’t want to be raising children right now with the direction this world is going.” “I worry what my grandchildren will grow up believing.” “If Jesus doesn’t come soon, who knows what the next generation of believers will be like?”
And yet, I remember hearing my parents – and grandparents – expressing those same fears as I was growing up in the 1970s.
The older we get the more fearful we can be for the generations coming after us. But what if we turned that concern into specific prayers for them, just as you and I most assuredly had prayers said for us by our parents and grandparents and those before them? We serve the same God today that the First Century Christians did. And the Holy Spirit can still draw hearts to Himself, convict hearts of sin, and help others find that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).
In John 17:20-21, Jesus prayed for you and me when He said “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me” (NASB). And just as His prayers long ago have drawn us to Himself, and preserved us through the generations as the victorious body of Christ, our prayers are effective in helping the next generation thrive in Him, too.
Here are five important prayers for the next generation of believers.
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1. A Prayer That Young Believers Develop a Deeper Hunger for the Word of God
When we lose our conviction that the Word of God is our daily bread, the lamp for our feet, and the light for our path (Psalm 119:105), we are directionless and can so easily succumb to the false teachings of our culture. Pray that the next generation of believers will recognize the value, authority, validity, and relevance of the Word of God for their lives today and not be satisfied with simply having a Bible on a shelf in their home or in a program on their phones.
How can we stay on God’s path if we don’t truly know what His path is, as defined in His Word? How can we live by godly, biblical principles if we don’t know what those principles really are? How will the next generation of believers know the difference between what is biblical and what is secular if they don’t truly know God’s Word?
Lord God, place a desire in the heart of the next generation of believers to not just know about You, but to desire a deeper, more personal faith and get to know You through the study of Your Word. Place in them a true hunger for your Word so they desire to know Scripture, study it responsibly, teach it reverently, share it boldly, and live it faithfully as if it’s the food that sustains them and the very air they breathe. Help them to recognize the difference between human philosophy and Godly wisdom by being diligent to study the Word, “accurately handling the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).
2. A Prayer That Believers Be Impassioned to Share the Gospel of Salvation through Faith in Jesus Christ
Are you wondering how the next generation of believers will hear about salvation by faith in Jesus? Romans 10:14 says, “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (ESV). Praise God for those who were obedient to the command of Christ to share the gospel with us, and therefore we know Jesus today.
Jesus told His followers in Luke 10:2, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (ESV). Because pastors, churches, and committed followers have been obedient and prayed to this end, God has continued to send workers into the harvest to share the Gospel of Christ. My niece, fresh out of Bible college, was deeply convicted to share Christ with those who have never heard and thus gave up a life of convenience in the U.S. to live in a poverty-stricken third-world country and share Jesus with others. That was a working of God in her, not just a good, moral choice. God continues to call and equip those who surrender their lives to His purposes. Pray that the next generation of believers will follow God’s heart and direction for their lives, rather than their own, and that they will not only share Jesus with the people in their sphere of influence, but pursue full-time work in sharing the gospel.
Lord Jesus, raise up men and women who will faithfully bear Your cross and bring your message of salvation by Jesus alone to the nations. Help us to continue to share the Gospel and set an example for them to follow and equip them to burn with a passion and conviction to share You and Your Word with everyone who needs to hear. Raise up future pastors, evangelists, Bible teachers, small group leaders, and others who will obey Your call to share their faith with unbelievers, disciple new believers, and shepherd Your flock of believers who desire to grow in the Word.
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3. A Prayer for Christians to Adopt a Biblical Worldview as Opposed to a Secular and Cultural Worldview
In John 17:17 shortly before His arrest and crucifixion, Jesus prayed this for His followers and all who would believe in Him by their testimony: “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.”
There appears to be much confusion when it comes to what a Christ-follower looks like today, how we should behave, what we should believe, the values we should hold onto firmly. But the confusion happens when the culture’s voice becomes louder than God’s – when we read more of public opinion than the Word of God. Clarity exists when we gain a proper understanding of Scripture and can differentiate between a biblical worldview (which starts with a creator God and the conviction that His Word is inerrant and applicable for every believer today) and a secular worldview (which flows from the basis that there is no God and no clear distinction between what is right and wrong and therefore popular culture sets the moral standards).
Lord, raise up believers who care more about what YOU think, than what the world thinks. Give them a boldness to declare Your Word as the absolute authority in their lives and not something that shifts and changes according to the culture in which they live. May they not look at other Christians or even pastors as their example, but at the person of Jesus Christ. May they seek Your Word above secular psychology and public opinion, and realize You are the Great Counselor, You are the Inventor and Applier of the sciences, You are the ultimate authority on morality and the One who defined good and evil, and You are the beginning and end. May they experience joy in the clarity and freedom that results from loving and clinging to your Word and not being held captive by the world’s philosophies and the lies of the culture (2 Corinthians 10:5), and even well-meaning believers who don’t have a clear grasp on the difference between a biblical and secular worldview.
4. A Prayer That Believers Understand Who They Are in the Eyes of Their Loving Creator and Savior
A popular saying in the world today is “Do you.” I recently heard the motto: “Be well, be you.” In other words, whatever you decide, do it. Whoever you choose to be, be it. But what if every believer understood who they are in the eyes of their loving Creator who fashioned them in their mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13)? Instead of “Do you,” “Do Jesus” or “Do Christlikeness” or “Do the fruits (of the spirit)” (Galatians 5:22-23).
When we understand who we are in Christ Jesus, it impacts how we see ourselves, how we define ourselves, and how we approach life decisions. When we understand we were bought with a price, we can better care for and glorify God with our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:20). When we know we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) we won’t question our Creator’s design. When we fully grasp that we are “God’s masterpiece…created…anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10 NLT) we won’t struggle with or wonder if we have a purpose.
Lord, may every believer of the next generation be assured that You have created them in Your image and therefore they are fearfully and wonderfully made, full of purpose and uniqueness for Your glory. May they be convinced Your ways are perfect; You make no mistakes (Psalm 18:30) and they don’t have to question, second-guess, or reinvent their identity. May they take care of their bodies as Your temple (1 Corinthians 6:19) and go through life boldly as Your handiwork, realizing the purposes You have for them before they were even born. May they not strive after their own significance or be led astray into thinking their own self-worthy (apart from Christ) is paramount, but may they live by the motto of Paul in Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (NASB).
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5. A Prayer That Young Believers Will Love the Church as Jesus Does
Statistics now show more than half of teenagers who leave the church today won’t return. Studies also show an increasing number of Christians no longer believe the church is relevant. They don’t believe they need to spend their time Saturday night or Sunday morning listening to a semi-rock concert and then get three spiritual tips on how to get through the week. They may even rationalize they can get that in a podcast on their way to work or watch a service online at their convenience, rather than join one live with other believers. Yet, Scripture exhorts us to not give up meeting together with other believers (Hebrews 10:24-25).
If the next generation of believers doesn’t connect with the body of Christ, how can it learn to serve? First Corinthians 12 tells us every believer has been given one or more spiritual gifts to encourage, edify, and equip the body of Christ. How can those gifts be exercised if one is not among a community of believers? We, as followers of Jesus, were never meant to live in isolation or independent of other believers, thinking we can practice our faith privately and grow on our own. Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her. Where the believers congregate (and where Scripture is taught) is where the younger generation needs to be if they are going to grow as a follower of Jesus.
Lord, may the younger generation of believers be so ready for love and acceptance that they turn to Your body of believers to find truth, hope, care, support, and unconditional love. May we be ready to receive them, encourage them, and equip them to be all they can be in Christ so that they find a thriving community of believers in which they can grow, be challenged, and raise their children to love and prioritize the church, as well. Lord, may they find Your church, Your bride, Your body as an uplifting community that is far more about love than legalism, far more about relationship than rules, far more about grace, than judgment. And Lord Jesus, as You prayed in John 17:22-23, may all believers (younger and older generations alike) be “perfected in unity, so that the world may know that [Your Heavenly Father] sent [You],” and loved them, even as God has loved You.
For more on living differently in this world for the sake of the next generation, see Cindi’s books, Letting God Meet Your Emotional Needs, Women on the Edge, When a Mom Inspires Her Daughter, and 10 Secrets to Becoming a Worry-Free Mom.