Last month in this column, I offered five practical ways to pray more effectively this year. This week, I once again write about prayer, but with specific emphasis on praying about Resurrection Sunday (April 9). Here are five ways to pray for your church’s services on that special day:
Pray for the health of your pastoral staff.
Easter weekend is a busy one, and stress can sometimes make us more vulnerable to illness. We want everything to go well, knowing that some guests will be in church for the first time in a long time. If we’re being honest, sometimes we work harder on the Resurrection Sunday sermon than we typically do for others. We long for lost people to get saved and for wayward believers to return to God.
Pray that the truth of the death and resurrection of Jesus will refresh your heart in new ways.
Too many of us take the resurrection story for granted, and we celebrate by simply having a big day in church. We work hard at getting people to church during this time of year, but we sometimes miss the gospel for ourselves in the process. Pray that Resurrection Sunday will have new meaning for you this year.
Pray for church members to invite their non-believing friends to the services—and for non-believers to be burdened about their need for Jesus.
We need to reach out to non-believers we might have a close relationship with and invite them to come hear about Jesus. Pray for other believers to do this as well. At the same time, pray that unchurched folks will make the right decision to attend where they will hear the gospel.
Pray against the enemy snatching the Word as it’s proclaimed.
Jesus warned us this would happen in the parable of the sower (Mark 4:1-20). Satan has many ways of distracting people from hearing the Word, but he appears to work overtime during gospel proclamation. On Resurrection Sunday, pray during the service that God will guard the hearers of the Word from the enemy’s arrows. Begin the prayer for yourself as you listen to the sermon, and then extend the prayer to others seated around you.
Pray for the more than 4 billion people around the world who have never heard the resurrection story—and for the missionaries giving their lives to get that story to them.
Resurrection Sunday will mean nothing for much of the world. Billions of people will come and go that day as if there never were an empty tomb that once held Jesus, the Son of God. If that reality does not break your heart, meditate more on the miracle and grace of the resurrection this year. Thank God for eternal life.
Chuck Lawless is dean of doctoral studies and vice president of spiritual formation and ministry centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C. For more from Lawless, visit chucklawless.com.