Pray 21

Below we have laid out the first three days of Pray21. There are 21 short chapters in this book. Read one a day for three weeks because it takes 21 days to form a habit. The first three days are included below. After you finish them on the app, download the entire PDF version of the book for free.

from the author

Introduction

It was all I could do not to fail tenth-grade geometry. Teachers and tutors did their best. But I had some kind of mental block, maybe missed some basic concept somewhere in the past.

I got a D minus.

But I got by.

Some questions in life never get answered. But not because they’re never asked. Just because of some mental block. Some basic concept missing.

Everything else in my life seemed fine. Seemed. Tim had it together. Outgoing. Confident. Successful. Getting by in life. So no one bothered asking the hard questions.

Some questions never get answered because we don’t see any reason to ask. If status quo is adequate, why challenge it? And then there are the questions we’re afraid to ask. Afraid of the answers.

Growth begins with good questions. But if the questions never get asked or answered, growth stalls. A lot of people live and die without answers.

Getting by. It’s a tragedy to settle for a D minus in life.

I was thirty-four before someone asked me the question I’d never faced. My mentor asked, “Who are you?”

Silence. He might as easily have asked me to calculate the hypotenuse of a trapezoidal pentagon. He wasn’t just requesting my name, title, or least favorite Disney character. And I knew it. I tried bluffing. He caught me. I only needed to answer the question. But I had no idea.

When I eventually figured it out, the answer involved some scary soul searching. The kind I’m inviting you to do. In accepting the Pray21 challenge, you’re going to hit some hard questions.

Maybe you’re young. You need to face the Who are you? question now, before you waste years pretending. (By the way, if you’ve placed your faith in Christ, you can know with absolute certainty who you are. You’ll see what I mean at the end of the twenty-one days.) Or perhaps you’re not so young. A long way down the road. Career established, family growing, and maybe still unaware of your identity or purpose. (You can know who you are too. Someone should have helped you figure it out long ago.)

We’re all asking the same question. It’s not too late to find the answer. And when you find yourself, you’ll be able to do all God made you to do. And have the time of your life doing it.

You have been created for significance and service, called to mission and ministry. Getting by is not an option. Getting by is getting lost.

Over the next twenty-one days you’ll read about people in the Bible who are just like you. Asking questions. Avoiding questions. Oblivious to the questions. People in discovery. Getting beyond just getting by. When you wrestle with their stories, you’ll open doors for your journey of discovery.

Maybe you’ll let God inside your heart, where he can birth his plan for you. Hopefully you’ll begin to recognize and respond to his call. Learn who you are. Then start asking yourself, What’s next?

Whether you’re fifteen or fifty-five, you are God’s answer to somebody’s questions. Take twenty-one days to launch a life of change—change in yourself, changing your world.

The journey’s about to begin. Any questions?

Week one summary

Believe

You believe in God? Good. Did you know that God believes in you?

God made you just the way he wanted you to be. Sure, maybe you’ve done things that have offended him, hurt others, and injured yourself. Not good. But that doesn’t change the fact that God made you for himself (he really likes you) and for a purpose, a mission in this life. And he believes you can do it—with his help—because he made you that way.

So when does your purpose for living kick in? When do you get to start doing something really important? Will it be when you “grow up”? When you get a degree? When you get married? When you make partner or manager?

None of the above. Your purpose takes effect now! It doesn’t matter whether you’re a teen or an octogenarian. You’ve already passed Go. You’ve already collected all the gifting and spiritual resources from God that you need for mission launch. What? You don’t have everything you’ll need for the whole journey? Don’t worry. God will train and supply you on the job. It’s part of the “daily bread” Jesus said to pray for (Matthew 6:11).

But the whole venture starts by agreeing with God. He believes in the you that he made. You need to believe in that same you. Not with sinful pride, but with faith in your Creator and Provider as you step out and live for him.

So tell God, “You’re right about me.” And don’t just tell him. Show him.

Day 1

Daily Reading

How Many Loaves Do You Have?

Got much for God? Me neither. So what does he want from us? Everything. That’s all.

What will he do when you bring to him the little that’s your everything? He’ll multiply it into a feast for thousands. Like he did for the first diciples. And then for a guy named Philip.

Read the stories yourself.

Background Files

  • Read Mark 6:7–13, 30–45. Might Jesus have been using the food shortage (and his ques- tion in verse 38) as a test to see what the disciples learned from their earlier adven- tures (verses 7–13)?
  • Read Mark 8:1–10. Repeat performance! Think about what lesson was so important for Jesus’ disciples that he set it up twice.
  • Read Acts 8, about a man named Philip. How did the Lesson of the Loaves apply here?

Brief Debrief

These questions are for everyone who follows Christ. Whether we’re fifteen or forty-five, we all need to frequently recommit ourselves and our resources to him. Dig deep and journal about them. Connect with others. Help each other process and pray through the questions and challenges. After you’ve arrived at some conclusions, continue pray- ing for and supporting each other.

  • What tempts you to think you don’t have what it takes to accomplish God’s mission? What do you wish you could do for God and others but are afraid to do? What thoughts and emotions do you wrestle with?
  • How many loaves do you have? (Be honest.) How might God honor your seemingly small gift?
  • What is he asking you to do for him or oth- ers this week? Why will this be of value?
  • What will you bring to him for his use?
  • What support or resources do you need from others this week? What do they need from you?

Secure Channel

Lord, when I let myself dream, I get really pumped about all the things I’d like to do for you and for people. For example, __ [go ahead, dream with God]. But I’m usually afraid I don’t have what it takes. I hear what you want from me, and I give up before I start. To be honest, I’m afraid you’re unrealistic—that you want me to give what I don’t even have.

But you promise that’s not true. You just want what I have ... everything I have. And as small as that seems to me, here it is. Here I am. As an act of faith in you, this week I will ___ [commit to one simple, stretching act of obedience].

I pray these things, too, for __ [name your prayer partners], that they would courageously give you everything, and that you would provide confi- dence in your complete sufficiency through them.

day 2

Daily Reading

Do You Really Believe I Can Do This?

God wants you to live his dream. But that means taking him seriously. How big do you think he really is?

And it means taking yourself seriously. Will you dream big with God and then actively participate in your own dream?

Background Files

  • Read Matthew 20:29–34. Think about why Jesus asked these men to state what seemed to be obvious. How was he helping them grow and take a faith risk?
  • Read Matthew 9:27–31. Consider Jesus’ purpose in asking whether the men were taking him seriously.
  • Read Ephesians 3. Look for ways that Paul’s dream and God’s dream merged into one, guided by God. Paul blows the sides off the box in verses 14–21, especially 20–21.
  • Read Philippians 3:7–14. Can you hear Paul groaning, trying to express his soldout passion for the dream?

Brief Debrief

Dream about these questions and journal your thoughts. Think big with a big God (no matter your age or experience). Think and pray big with your partners. Plan together for action.

  • “What do you want me to do for you?” (Matthew 20:32). What’s your dream for God, for changing the world?
  • “DoyoureallybelieveIcandothis?”(Mat- thew 9:28 MSG). How big is your God? Big enough for your dream?
  • If you haven’t already, turn your dream into a request. Step up to the throne and peti- tion the King to make it happen.
  • What will be your first step in living the dream?
  • Who else do you need to dream and live it with you?

Secure Channel

Lord, you asked for it. So here’s my dream: __ [spill it]. There. It’s out. Now I choose to see you big, to believe that you can do what I’ve asked and even more. Help me trust you and to trust that you made me right for your task. Fill me with true passion for you and your dream.

I pray for all of us __ [name your prayer partners], that we’d encourage and support each other’s dreams, that we’d learn to work in unity for your kingdom.

Day 3

Daily Reading

Do You Believe in the Son?

The miracle life begins with a miracle relation- ship. Have you become God’s son or daugh- ter through Jesus’ sacrifice for you? If you have, are you living the passionate miracle life your Father has planned for you?

Background Files

  • Read John 9:1–41. What’s new in verses 34–38 that hasn’t happened before that point? Why could it only happen then, and not before?
  • Read Romans 3:20–25. Think about the difference between our way to “salvation” and God’s way. What makes true salvation possible?
  • Read Ephesians 2:1–10. Here Paul shows before-and-after snapshots of a person placing faith in Christ. Watch for the hows and how-nots of receiving salvation.
  • Read 1 John 5:11–15. Some people think salvation is only a hope, never a certainty.

Read what God says.

Brief Debrief

Think about these questions, talk with God, and journal about them. When you meet with others, share your thoughts and feelings honestly. Pray together for true knowledge of Jesus, no matter how old you are, and do what you can to help each other find him.

  • What’s the difference between knowing Jesus and knowing about him?
  • What’sthedifferencebetweenknowingJesus and doing the good things he says to do?
  • If someone asked you how to start a rela- tionship with Jesus, what would you say?
  • Do you know the Son of Man? You can pray to him now, using the following prayer or any words that convey the same ideas. Then you’ll have his presence in you, helping you live the life you’ve always really wanted.

Secure Channel

If you don’t know Jesus, pray like this: Jesus, I’ve done wrong things, and I don’t deserve forgiveness or heaven. Thank you for dying for me. I accept your for- giveness, your free gift of eternal life. Change me inside and help me live for you. Thank you for this miracle in me. Now do miracles through me.

And if you do know Jesus, pray with me: Lord, thank you for being in my life. Never let me take you for granted. Pull ___ [name your prayer partners] and me closer to you. Let us actually feel as if we’re starving when we neglect you, so we’ll seek you with all our hearts. Live through us and change our world.