The 40 STEPS Challenge

Introduction

Over the next forty days you will receive a daily email consisting of a short Bible verse, a brief reflection, and a simple prayer. We encourage you to make time each day to read “The 40 Steps Prayer Challenge”. Take time to reflect upon what you have read and let God’s word permeate your mind and heart. This may not be easy at first, but once you establish this habit you will start to notice a change in your life. Don’t worry if you miss a day. Just pick up where you left off and keep going.

Purpose

"The 40 STEPS Prayer Challenge” is intended to help you explore different methods of prayer and deepen your relationship with God. Prayer is the key to opening up God’s purpose and plan for your life. It has the ability to change your motivations, open you up to new horizons, and give your life decisive direction. Through prayer we come to encounter the unconditional love of God.

Personal and spiritual growth is about encountering God on a daily basis and forming habits of scripture reading, reflection, and prayer. Your life will change as your habits change. When you make prayer a part of your daily life, you allow God to transform your behaviours, enabling you to take small steps towards better living.

Sign Up

To sign up for the 40 Steps Challenge, send an email entitled “40 Steps” to stjohnboscoministry@gmail.com or simply check back here for daily prayer updates!


Day 1 - What Is Prayer

“The Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend” Exodus 33:11.

Reflection

St. Teresa of Avila described prayer as, “being on terms of friendship with God”. Prayer is a conversation between God and us. It is not a one-way conversation, but a dialogue. Prayer, then, is raising one’s mind and heart to God, requesting good things, searching for Him, and listening to His response. When we pray, we enter God’s presence on the level of friendship.

Prayer

Lord, throughout the next forty days help me to walk with you as a friend.

Day 2 - What Does Prayer Do

“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” James 5:16.

Reflection

Prayer’s ultimate goal is to simplify our lives by making us more like Jesus. When we pray, we are asking God to take control of our lives and point us in the right direction. When we do this, our path becomes clear, the stresses of life are not so overwhelming, our priorities change, and our lives improve. Prayer helps us identify the places in our lives where we need God’s help. Jesus wants us to walk with him, so that He can carry our burdens and show us the heart of the Father, who is unconditional love. Prayer is the key to changing our lives.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, make me more like your Son, Jesus. Direct my life and show me the path you want me to follow. Show me where I need to improve and help me make the changes necessary so that I can experience your unconditional love.

Day 3 - Why Is Prayer Important

“This is true life, that they know you, the only true God” John 17:3.

Reflection

When we pray we come into contact with the heart of God. As a consequence, prayer delights us and puts our universe in order. It brings us peace, purifies our desires, and helps us to see the places where we need forgiveness and light. Prayer helps us to recognize what we have to be grateful for, makes us more like Christ, and frees us to act in accordance with the love of God. God wants us to pray because it enhances our ability to love, increases our joy and peace, sustains our spiritual health, and directs us towards our eternal destiny. Prayer is spiritual food for the body, mind and soul.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, throughout these forty days, transform my heart, delight me with your love, bring order to my life, purify my desires, help me to forgive, and enable me to act in accordance with your love.

Day 4 - The Object of Our Prayer

“You received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, Abba, Father” Romans 8:15.

Reflection

God is the object of our prayer. He is our Abba, our Father. His love for us is unconditional. Jesus’ Passion is further proof of God’s unconditional love. God really did love the world so much that He sent His only Son, Jesus, not to condemn us, but to save us and bring us to eternal life (see Jn. 3:16-19). Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:31-39). Therefore, this Love is the foundation for our unconditional trust and unconditional hope in Him. It is the full expression of the purpose of our lives, and therefore, the goal of our lives. There can be nothing more important than seeking and living in God’s Unconditional Love. We do this through prayer.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, help me to recognize you as Abba, help me to recognize you as Unconditional Love.

Day 5 - Obstacles to Prayer

“Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand” Isaiah 41:10.

Reflection

Sometimes our prayer lives become stagnant. There are several reasons why. Our prayer can become dry when we no longer feel God’s presence in our lives. (1) Discouragement means we want to give up, since our prayers are “not working” or we feel that God “does not hear us”. (2) Lack of Faith means that we no longer desire to search for God, thinking he does not love us or will not answer us. (3) Distractions reveal what we are attached to. Often we need to let go of these things, as they can become obstacles to prayer. In order to overcome these obstacles we must (1) Trust that God is close to us and will bring us out of our dryness; have (2) Faith that God answers our prayers, even if we don’t see the direct fruit; have (3) Hope that God will bring us through difficult times.

Prayer

Lord, help me to trust in you, to put my faith in you, and to maintain my hope in your promise, even when I do not feel your presence in my life.

Day 6 - How Do We Pray

“Be careful how you live, making the best use of your time…understand what the will of the Lord is” Ephesians 5:15-17

Reflection

Peter Kreeft says that “the single most important piece of advice about prayer is one word: Begin!” There are five essential ways that our prayer lives can grow, particularly for busy people: (1) spontaneous prayer, (2) short prayer forms, (3) partnership with the Holy Spirit, (4) the contemplative life, and (5) the Holy Eucharist. We will be examining each of these prayer forms as the journey continues. Given time, each of these prayer forms can create habits that lead us into a simple and sustainable relationship with God. Even for busy people.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, help me make prayer a priority in my life.

Day 7 - Spontaneous Prayer I

“Pray in the Spirit without ceasing, with every kind of petition and request” Ephesians 6:18.

Reflection

Spontaneous prayers are short, effective, and easy to remember. They are simple and easy ways to engage in prayer during all of life’s circumstances. We should have a variety of these prayers at hand for use in times of trial, forgiveness, temptation, etc. There are different types of prayer, such as prayers in times of trial, suffering and anxiety, prayers to ask for forgiveness or to offer forgiveness. And in all situations, one can always prayer the all-purpose prayer, “Thy will be done.”

Prayer

Come Holy Spirit, help me to pray without ceasing.

Day 8 - Spontaneous Prayer II

“Call upon me in your times of trouble and I will deliver you” Psalm 34:17.

Reflection

When facing difficulties, the first and most important prayer is “help.” We often forget it because we think it is so easy, or that God would never respond to something that simple. But if God really is unconditional love, then God not only hears us, but also wants to help us in our times of need. This prayer can be followed up with, “Lord I give up. You take care of it.” Sometimes when life gets out of control, we simply need to place our trust in God and surrender the situation to him.

Prayer

(inhale) Lord, I give up. (exhale) You take care of it.

Day 9 - Spontaneous Prayer III

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” Romans 8:18.

Reflection

Often times our trials turn into suffering, and sometimes suffering has neither speedy relief nor obvious meaning. At these times, it is essential to ask for the Lord’s help to optimize the good in suffering (good for oneself, and good for others). Suffering can be debilitating and depressing if we do not see any good coming from it. However, if we recognize that God can use our suffering for good, it can become meaningful.

Prayer

(inhale) Lord, make good… (exhale) come out of this suffering.

Day 10 - Spontaneous Prayer IV

“Lord, be merciful to me a sinner” Luke 18:13.

Reflection

We all make mistakes. It is part of life. But when we do, we must recognize our need for God’s unconditional mercy and love. That is why the tax collector cries out, “Lord, be merciful to me a sinner.” He placed his trust in God’s mercy. When we ask for forgiveness, we must turn to God with the heart of a child who trusts unconditionally in his parent’s love. No matter what we have done, we can always ask for his mercy, knowing that his love will set us free.

Prayer

(inhale) Lord Jesus Christ… (exhale) have mercy on me a sinner.

Day 11 - Spontaneous Prayer V

“If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive us” 1 John 1:9.

Reflection

After we ask for forgiveness, we must trust that God, through his unconditional love for us, has forgiven us. If God really is Abba, then God really wants us to come back to him. Like a child who returns after running away from home, God welcomes us back with open arms. God wants to amend the past, heal our wounds and offer us forgiveness. He does this in order to work with us towards personal transformation. We must accept God’s forgiveness with the heart of a child who truly believes that the Father wants to forgive us even after we have “gotten in trouble.”

Prayer

(inhale) Abba… (exhale) I accept your forgiveness.

Day 12 - Spontaneous Prayer VI

“Forgive our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us” Matthew 6:12.

Reflection

Life is full of conflict, some that we cause, while others occur to us. These conflicts cause pain and anger in the lives of those who suffer through them. In these moments, we must surrender the situation to God, asking for his guidance and healing. Jesus also calls us to forgive one another from the heart. We are even called to the difficult task of loving our enemies. In fact, Jesus wants us to “bless those who curse you, and pray for those who abuse you” (Luke 6:28). This is no easy feat, but by praying for those who hurt us, and offering them forgiveness, we are able to free ourselves from the burden of broken relationships.

Prayer

(inhale) Lord, make good come…(exhale) out of whatever harm I have caused. (inhale) Lord, help me forgive…(exhale) those who have hurt me.

Day 13 - Spontaneous Prayer VII

“Thy will be done” Matthew 6:10.

Reflection

Without a doubt the most important prayer of all is “thy will be done.” Jesus teaches us this prayer in the Our Father and uses it Himself during the agony in the garden. If you cannot remember any other prayer, default to this one. Why? Because the will of God is loving, good, just and salvific; and when the will of God is working through you, you become an instrument of God’s will in the world. There could be no more worthy purpose for living than this. This prayer can make good come out of harm, peace overcome anger, calm dissipate confusion, and help arrive during temptation. This prayer can radically change any situation we face.

Prayer

(inhale) Lord…(exhale) thy will be done.

Day 14 - Structured Prayer I

“In everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” Philippians 4:6.

Reflection

Structured prayers come in a variety of forms. This one is known as the “RSP” prayer form.