Outward Living Begins With An Outward Prayer Life

The biggest encouragement I recieve in keeping my heart and mind focused outwardly is when I pray Gospel-centered prayers with other Christians. Right now in my life, I gather with a group about 15 people on Thursday mornings for the purpose of praying for our community. This is a group where we align our hearts with the heart the Father asking that God would reveal Himself to those who do not know Him. It is one of my favorite times of the week. And what it does for me is it gets my heart off myself and places it outward.

We all need those moments to pause, to lift our eyes upward and set our minds on the things above. From the moment we wake up we are filled with our own schedules and to-do lists and concerns and worries and challenges. And we can quickly find ourselves moving inward not necessarily out of a hardened or selfish heart but simply out of the reality of a life that gets busy. If we do nothing, this world will naturally move us away from the outward mission of Christ.

I remember when I was young going to the beach. I would love to out and play in the crashing waves. After about 10 minutes of playing in the ocean, I would look back to the beach and have a “where is my family?” moment. Because as I look back at the beach I wouldn’t be able to see my mom or dad or sisters or anywere I recognized. And then I would noticed that hotel behind the beach didn’t look familiar. And I have to admit, there would be a momentary panic of where am I. But then I look farther down the beach and see a familair hotel. And then also see where my family had always been in their normal spot. I didn’t realize it but while I was playing in th waves, it was naturally moving me away from where I started from. I didn’t try to move. It was just the natural moving of the ocean.

When we live in this world, even if we are living a nice, good, church-going life, if we are not intentionally placing our hearts and minds on their outward call of Christ, we will begin to drift from that call. It will no longer be our pursuit. It will no longer be our heart’s desire.

But there is an gauge to help us check to see if we are living an outward life.

One of the biggest indicators of an outward life is whether I have an outward prayer life. This is why after Jesus had compassion on the crowd because they were like sheep without a shepherd he turned to his disciples and called them to pray earnestly that the Lord would send laborers into the harvest.

I find it interesting that he did not immediately call them to go to the crowd and begin to teach. Isn’t that what the crowd needed–the truth of the Gospel? Isn’t that what Jesus came doing–preaching the Gospel? But Jesus did not teach out of obligation, he teached out a heart that reflected the outward and compassionate heart of the Father.

I believe one of the reasons he called them to pray is because our prayer life shapes our heart and our heart shapes our life. What we pray for is what we invest our time in. What we pray for is what we will sacrfice for. If I have a heart for the lost, if I have a heart for laborers to be sent into the harvest then that is going to impact how I live. I will turn my heart to the lost. I will become one of those laborer.

If you want to take one step toward developing an outward life then begin in a place of prayer both individually and with other Christians. And do not simply pray prayers centered around healing or fixing our physical needs, but pray according to the will of the Father. Pray Gospel prayers. Pray that God would use you to be a part of God revealing himself to those who do not know Him. When we cultivate an outward prayer life, we begin to live an outward life.