For many Christians Lent has been transformed from a season focused on self-denial to a season focused on passionate praying for the fulfillment of God’s purposes in the world.
The catalyst for that transformation is Seek God for the City, a prayer guide published yearly since 1996 by Waymakers, a ministry based in Austin, Texas. The guide aims to help followers of Christ pray “prayers of biblical hope” during the 40 days from Ash Wednesday to Palm Sunday.
“We tend to pray just enough to get by,” notes Waymakers’ founder Steve Hawthorne, with “many of our prayers focus[ing] on fixing our own personal problems.”
But Hawthorne says we must learn “to pray beyond ourselves” — and to “pray with uplifted hopes that are grounded in God’s Word.”
From Seek God for the City:
At this hour we stand a crucial threshold. Now is the time to pray in step with the Father’s great passion to draw to Himself a people from every people….
As you pray with hope, you’ll find yourself drawn into the purpose God has long been pursuing in the lives of friends and neighbors…. You’ll find yourself praying with increasing anticipation.
Each page of Seek God for the City features two Scripture-based prayers focused on a particular topic, such as the reconciliation of enemies, the restoration of families, and the reinvigoration of worship in the church.
Here, for example, is a prayer for the spreading of holiness, rooted in Jesus’ encounter with a leper in Mark 1:40-41:
Lord Jesus, we believe You are just as willing to cleanse us from the pollution of sin as You were to heal people from leprosy. Many of our community, even Christians, have been deeply affected by sin. We cannot wash it away by our resolve and good intentions.
Only You can cleanse people from the sin which sickens us all. We come near to You, praying for ourselves and many others. You are indeed willing. Make us clean.
Seek God for the City includes “prayer points” to help readers intercede for particular groups of people, such as the elderly, the poor, university students, and members of the news media. The guide also features a daily focus on praying for various nations of the world.
To see how all this is laid out in the guide, view this sample page.
Seek God for the City 2009 is for use Feb. 25-April 5. Ordering details are here (copies are $3 each).