This is the third and final part of the list I made of New Testament prayers and teachings on prayer. The sheer volume of references should astound us. God’s people are a people of prayer. There are no exceptions. My prayer is that, if you read these three lists, you’ll reevaluate what you pray for and be strengthened in your resolve to be a person of prayer, both on your own and with your church. This list includes prayers for the church and prayers for others outside of the church.
PRAYERS FOR THE CHURCH
Prayer for Church Leadership
- Jesus prays before choosing the 12 disciples (Lk. 6:12).
- Disciples pray that God would show them which person to replace Judas (Acts 1:24).
- Apostles laid hands on Stephen and others and prayed for them (Acts 6:6).
- The church prayed for Saul and Barnabas and sent them off (Acts 13:3).
- Paul and Barnabas prayed and fasted as they chose elders in each church (Acts 14:23).
Prayer for God’s People
- Be alert and always keep on praying for the Lord’s people (Eph. 6:18).
- We thank God for you (the Colossians) because we have heard of your faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven (Col. 1:3-5).
- Since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you (Col. 1:9).
- Paul thanks God for the Thessalonians, and continually mentions them in his prayers (1 Thess. 1:2).
- Paul thanks God for the Thessalonians because they accepted the word of God as the word of God (1 Thess. 2:13).
- Paul thanks God for the Thessalonians because of the joy they experience together (1 Thess. 3:9).
- Paul thanks God for Philemon and the church in his home because of their love for all his people and faith in the Lord Jesus (Philem. 4-5).
- Paul prays that their partnership would be effective for deepening their understanding of the good things they share for the sake of Christ (Philem. 6).
Prayer to Receive/Have the Holy Spirit
- Prayed for new believers to receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:15).
- Paul prays continuously for the Ephesians, that the Father to give them the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so they may know him better (Eph. 1:17).
- Paul prays that God would strengthen the Ephesians with power through his Spirit in their inner being so that Christ may dwell in their hearts through faith (Eph. 3:16).
- Pray in the Spirit on all occasions and with all kinds of prayers (Eph. 6:18).
Prayer for Unity
- Jesus prays for future believers to be one just as he and the Father are one (Jn. 17:20, 22). This means Jesus in them and the Father in him.
Prayer for Wisdom
- Paul prays for the Ephesians to have eyes enlightened so they might know the hope to which God has called them (Eph. 1:18).
- We ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives (Col. 1:9).
- Those who lack wisdom should ask God who gives it generously (Jam. 1:5-6).
Prayer for Conversion and Spiritual Formation
- Paul prays for Agrippa and others to become what he is after Agrippa asks if he could be made a Christian (Acts 26:29).
- Paul thanks God that although the Romans used to be slaves to sin, they have come to obey from their heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed their allegiance (Rom. 6:17).
- Paul prays that the Israelites would be saved (Rom. 10:1).
- Our prayer is that you would be fully restored (2 Cor. 13:9).
- Paul prays that the Ephesians who are rooted and established in love would have power to grasp how great God’s love is, that they might be filled to the measure of the fullness of God (Eph. 3:17-18).
- Paul thanks God for the Philippians and knows that he who began a good work in them will carry it on to completion (Phil. 1:3-6).
- Paul prays that the Philippians’ love would abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight so they might discern what is best and be pure and blameless on the day of the Christ (Phil. 1:9-10).
Paul prays for wisdom so that the Colossians may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might (Col. 1:10-11).
- Paul prays for the Thessalonians that God would make them worthy of his calling (2 Thess. 1:11).
Prayer for Evangelism
- Jesus tells us to ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers (Matt. 10:38; Lk. 10:2).
- Jesus prays the disciples would be sanctified by the truth as they are sent out into the world (Jn. 17:17-18).
- Paul asks for prayers that when he speaks, words will be given to him so he will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel (Eph. 6:19-20).
- Pray for Paul and his companions, that God would open a door for their message, so they may proclaim the mystery of Christ, and that Paul might proclaim it boldly (Col. 4:3-4).
- Paul asks the Thessalonians to pray that the message of the Lord would spread quickly and be honored (2 Thess. 3:1).
Prayer for Interpretation of Tongues
- Those who speak in tongues should pray that they might also interpret (1 Cor. 14:13). We pray with our spirit but also with understanding.
- May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all (2 Cor. 13:14).
- The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen. (Gal. 6:18).
- May the God of peace sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thess. 5:23).
PRAYERS FOR OTHERS
Prayer for Enemies
- Pray for enemies and those who persecute you (Matt. 5:44; Lk. 6:28).
Prayer for Little Children
- Jesus prayed for the little children (Matt. 19:13).
Prayer For Others’ Faith in Temptation
- Jesus prays that Peter’s faith will not fail, knowing Satan wants to sift him like wheat (Lk. 22:31-32).
Prayer for Earthly Authorities
- Paul asks that prayer and petitions be made for kings and those in authority (1 Tim. 2:1-2).
Doing ministry with the conviction that what happens at home is just as important as what happens at church…well, that’s easier said than done. We have a larger amount of control over what we program on a Sunday or Wednesday. We know what we’ll say to kids, which part of the Bible we’re teaching, and what we expect them to do. Okay, maybe we don’t always even know that.
We certainly don’t have control over how parents will disciple their kids. Which is why I think it’s very tempting for the church to create a dependency for parents by trying to always have the answers and program families to death. But in the end, is it really that effective? Will having families come to church on Sunday morning for Sunday School, then for church, then Sunday night, then Wednesday night, and then for special events really swing the discipleship pendulum so much?
Sure, it gives me a little more job security, but in the end, we all end up worn out with very little time to live out the gospel.
That’s why it’s our job to, as this chapter says, “reactivate parents” every year so kids will stay connected to them. Parenting a preschool takes different skills than parenting a middle schooler. And if parents don’t retool along the way, they’re in danger of missing out on the relational influence they can have. The church has an advantage in this: Volunteers get to work with a bunch of kids at the same phase. Which leads to familiarity with the characteristics of kids at that phase. Which leads to the ability to help parents see who their kids are becoming.
Joiner and Ivy give the example of companies who didn’t adapt with changing times:
- Kodak went from $16 billion in sales in 1995 to $7.1 billion in 2010.
- Blockbuster (who?) went from $8.4 billion net worth in 1994 to $24 million in 2010.
Similarly, others did adapt:
- Disney World went from annual attendance of 12.5 million in 1975 to 50.1 million in 2013.
- Amazon went from $15.7 million in sales in 1996 to $88.9 billion in 2014. That’s nuts!
The point is this: If parents (and the church) don’t adapt how they parent (and make disciples), they’ll miss out on relational influence (and relevancy).
Parents have an average of 12 hours a day with a preschooler, 6 hours with an elementary student, 4 hours with a middle schooler, and 2 hours with a high schooler. At the same time, those 12 preschool hours are largely about positional authority: “I’m dad; do what I say!” Those 2 high school hours are largely about relational influence: “How’s school going?” while on the way to a baseball game.
So how can our church help parents as their kids grow through the phases?
- We can help them parent with the end in mind. They are raising kids who will become adults. What does it look like to be a disciple of Jesus?
- We can emphasize the transitions. This is why we have UpStreet Parent Preview. We want moms and dads to not only see where their kids are going next, but also to talk with them about the spiritual growth of their kids at this elementary phase. It’s why Randy meets with parents of graduating 6th graders and has a CREW Preview Night for parents and kids entering youth group. It’s why we make a big deal for graduating HS seniors with a banquet.
- We can resource families. This is why our church website has a list of resources for families (www.nbwesleyan.org/family-resources).
In the end, we don’t have control over how parents will own the discipleship of their kids. And that’s ok. The same God who formed the church formed the family. The same God who gave His Spirit to the church at Pentecost gives His Spirit to individuals still today. Just like He doesn’t control us, we don’t control others. But we can have…you guessed it, relational influence.
For the early Christians, a relationship with Christ was even more about making a change in their social groupings than it was individual, personal salvation. Becoming a Christian had sharp consequences as they would be shunned by their Jewish brethren. While ethnically Jewish, they chose to believe in Jesus the Messiah and thus separate themselves from family members and close friends. Unless whole families converted.
This is why we read of Christians calling one another brother and sister in the Bible. They had become a new family, God’s family, and they needed the social bonds and friendship made possible in Christ and through the Holy Spirit.
Sadly, our picture of human relationships prior to coming to Christ has been affected by such things as rejection–just ask any student about the loss of a friendship or the way kids bully others at school–verbal abuse, wounds, fear, pain, the desire to belong, etc. We remember that John Wesley said that after the Fall, the political image of humanity was marred. We no longer related well with each other. We must re-learn what it means to love one another again.
The Bible says, “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death” (1 John 3:14). Love is essential. And yet love is so misconstrued as either a feeling we have or as something we are allowed to withhold from some and yet give to others.
Love is the will to seek the good for another person. It is always a choice we make. We remember that God’s vision for the world is one where He loves every person, and where we, bearing His image, love every person as well. This type of love transcends ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, color of the skin, history, prejudice, politics, emotions, social standing, etc.
We are called not only to love our neighbors but also to love our enemies.
Dallas Willard writes, “Spiritual formation, good or bad, is always profoundly social. You cannot keep it to yourself. Anyone who thinks of it as a merely private matter has misunderstood it…. Strictly speaking, there is nothing ‘just between me and God.’ For all that is between me and God affects who I am; and that, in turn, modifies my relationship to everyone around me” (Renovation of the Heart, p. 182).
Some may buy into the myth that “my personal relationship with God” is also a private one. Don’t. As Andy Stanley has said, “It may be personal, but it’s public.”
Part of spiritual formation is both our call to love our neighbor as ourselves as well as our wisdom in changing the people with whom we allow in our “inner circle.” Some Christians have mistakenly taught that becoming a Christian means forsaking one’s non-Christian friends. This is the wrong approach, for God has now positioned you in their lives as a witness for Him.
Joseph Myers wrote a profound book, The Search to Belong, on the ways in which people choose to belong to groups and to one another. He said that people belong in four different ways: public, social, personal, and intimate. In each space, we know people in different ways. He says we will only ever have one person in the “intimate” space, and that our capacity to belong to others in the other spaces grows (i.e., we’ll have more people in the personal space, even more in the social space, and a huge number in the public space). Here is how he defined each of these “spaces”:
Public: These are people we meet at public places, like the waiter at our favorite restaurant or the gas station attendant. They may be people we only know by name. We need more people in this space than any other. Public belonging is about connecting through outside influences–we’re all Tigers fans, all parents whose kids go to the same school, etc. People in this space don’t generally exchange personal information, and if they do, they move to a new space. People may want anonymity in this space but they don’t want to be strangers; it’s all about feeling like you fit in.
Social: Social belonging is what you think it is: It’s about small talk over coffee and donuts. This is the relationship you may have with your neighbor. You chat about the weather each time you see one another getting the mail. In this space, we know people just well enough and are perhaps evaluating whether or not we want to become better friends with them. These are the people you greet at church but don’t know much more about. You’ll have less people with whom you relate in these social ways.
Personal: This is the space that starts to get affected the most when a person becomes a Christian. It is here that we ask the question: Is it okay with Jesus if I still spend as much time with my close friends as I used to? Personal relationships are ones we share the details of life, the private stuff that maybe doesn’t get shared with too many others. These are relationships that many people term “intimate” but this is a misnomer. We are only capable of being intimate with one person–our spouse (if we are married, or another close friend if single).
Intimate: This is where we share the “naked truth” with another and are “not ashamed.” We fully trust this person to keep our secrets, to like and love us for who we are, and to never leave us. Intimacy is not only a sexual term but an emotional and informational term as well (The Search to Belong, pp. 39-51).
Thus, we seek to have a Christian spouse and a larger group of Christians in our personal friends, while maintaining relationships with others.
We can think of spiritual formation influencing relationships with our spouse, our children, our extended families, our neighbors, our close friends, our co-workers, strangers, people at church, people who have wronged us, and people who no one else seems to care about. There is not one person that we cannot love like Christ loves, though it will take his help and the help of the church.
Robert Webber writes, “The church and its worship are sources of nourishment precisely because they embody God’s story and witness to God’s divine embrace and constantly keep God’s vision of a restored people and renewed earth before us” (The Divine Embrace, p. 220). We do not attend church on Sundays because we must, but because in the church, we remember God’s plan for us and our world. Worship, Scripture, prayer and the sacraments together with other Christians form us into God’s people.
Dallas Willard points to Romans 12:9-21 gives a great list of the ways our gatherings should look:
- Letting love be completely real and sincere (v. 9)
- Abhorring what is evil (v. 9)
- Clinging to what is good (v. 9)
- Being devoted to one another in family-like love (v. 10)
- Outdoing one another in giving honor (v. 10)
- Serving the Lord with fervor and diligence (v. 11)
- Rejoicing in hope (v. 12)
- Being patient in troubles (v. 12)
- Being devoted constantly to prayer (v. 12)
- Contributing to the needs of the saints (v. 13)
- Practicing hospitality (v. 13)
- Blessing persecutors instead of cursing them (v. 14)
- Being joyful with those who are rejoicing and being sorrowful with those in sorrow (v. 15)
- Living in harmony with one another (v. 16)
- Not being proud, but fitting in with those considered “lowly” (v. 16)
- Not seeing yourself as superior or wiser than others (v. 16)
- Never repaying evil for evil (v. 17)
- Having due regard for what everyone takes to be right (v. 17)
- Being at peace with everyone, so far as it depends on you (v. 18)
- Never taking revenge, but leaving that to whatever God may decide (v. 19)
- Providing for needy enemies (v. 20)
- Not being overwhelmed by evil, but overwhelming evil with good (v. 21)
Willard says, “Just think for a moment what it would be like to be a part of a group of disciples in which this list was the conscious, shared intention, and where it was actually lived out, even if with some imperfection” (Renovation of the Heart, pp. 195-196).
We’ve been on vacation. Back now, and ready to continue writing. Traveling in the van, I thought about the ways we, as pastors and church leaders, attempt to help our churches define discipleship and what a disciple looks like. In my own setting, I led a small group of people through the New Testament…. Actually, I did a lot of legwork and brought my findings to this group and allowed them to edit them. We made two lists: characteristics of a disciple and actions of a disciple.
Looking back, I wonder how we could have done this differently. People need to process, from Scripture at minimum (and ideally from tradition as well), how the Bible describes a person who is undergoing Christian spiritual formation in Christ. Having a pastor tell them what he or she has found isn’t good enough. I look back at my own experience with mixed emotions. On one hand, I feel like our team came up with some great work. On the other, I feel like I put too much time into the effort behind the scenes, alone, and left others out of much of the process. In retrospect, spending more time together in Scripture would have been more beneficial.
What would it look like for a church going through a revisioning process to, corporately, define discipleship and begin to plot out how the various ministries work together to make disciples? I wonder if it could look something like this:
A. The church and pastor commit to taking a full year to go through Scripture together.
B. The pastor spends time listing 40 or so passages (2-3 chapters of Scripture, even) that he or she feels are the most important ones for a church to look at. OT and NT. These passages become the basis for a church-wide conversation/Bible study one night a week. Perhaps the church would even cancel other Bible studies for the year in order to make sure as many as possible could attend this one. This group is not a decision-making group, but is vital to the process.
C. Each week, the pastor leads the study group through the passage for the week. While the pastor may have some exegesis prepared in advance, the goal is not to download information, but to let people see insights in the text together. They seek to answer these questions exegetically:
- What does this passage say about the characteristics of a disciple? A disciple is _________.
- What does this passage say about the actions of a disciple? A disciple does ____________.
- What is God’s role in the spiritual formation of a disciple?
- What is a disciple’s role?
- What is the church’s role?
D. From these studies, the pastor then distills the most important parts and preaches from them the following Sunday. The whole church gets to hear and pray about the process, and it communicates that this affects everyone, whether they attend a weekly study or not. No one is off the hook or has an excuse about not hearing about the pulse of the conversations. No one can claim they weren’t included. And Sundays then become chances to create excitement about the process.
E. Monthly, the pastor meets with a select group of leaders (the board? a task force?) to review how the congregation has responded and answered the above questions from Scripture. The goal of this group is to begin connecting dots where Scripture emphasizes the same things over and over, to synthesize things into a manageable list.
F. Only after this year of Scripture soaking does the pastor and leadership group begin to figure out how their local church needs to contextualize discipleship.
What do you think? What is missing? Could this work? Have churches done this type of thing too many times that many leaders are tired of it?
I preached this sermon last Sunday as part of our emphasis on the Holy Spirit. I got sick halfway through writing it so I understand it is choppy. The only way I was able to preach it was through God’s Holy Spirit (seasonal allergies are at war with my nose and throat).
Text: 1 Corinthians 12
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
This famous quote from our Declaration of Independence really means nothing. Equality is a sham. The status quo is actually status: who makes the most money, who has the right color of skin, who lives in the right neighborhood, who knows the right people, who lives in the right country, who believes the right things…these are measuring sticks used to size up our competition.
Today I’m not going to talk politics. If I ever do from the pulpit, tell me to sit down. Neither am I going to bash our society, though it could use a stern rebuke. We don’t expect our society to operate by the same standards as we do; it’s not a Christian society. The problem is when our societal norms become our church norms.
I’ve never heard these comments here, but they’re common in churches.
“He’s an usher. I wish I could be an usher.”
“I’m surprised she’s here today. I saw her car parked at the bar last night.”
“They’re on the leadership team. Why didn’t I get picked to be on it?”
“He’s black. Doesn’t he know they have churches for black people?”
“Did you hear about their kids? In trouble at school again. Such a shame.”
The questions we’ve been taught to ask in order to compare ourselves with others at school, work, or in our neighborhoods have permeated our churches. We’re more concerned about being better than others and we’ve forgotten what God thinks of us.
We’ve forgotten that God cares about each one of us the same.
Guess what? We’re not alone. There was a church in the New Testament that thought and acted the same way. It was the Corinthian Church.
Paul addressed this issue in his letter to them, 1 Corinthians. If you have a Bible, open it to 1 Corinthians 12. We’ll look at the whole chapter. Chapter 12 starts out:
Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant. You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. Therefore, I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit (vv. 1-3).
Here is what Paul is dealing with. This is a group of believers who were arrogant and proud. They did not understand spiritual gifts though they thought they did. They cared little for one another, and chaos erupted just about every time they got together. They valued knowledge and wisdom above all else. They believed that those who knew more about God were special. They also thought that this knowledge led directly to speaking in tongues.
This created a dichotomy between those with knowledge/wisdom and tongues and those without. The superior Christians and the inferior Christians.
So Paul gives them a gut check. He says, “I don’t want you to be ignorant about spiritual gifts.” This is really better translated, “spiritual things,” since the word just means pertaining to the spiritual realm. Paul’s sentence is a sarcastic rebuke to a bunch of people who thought they had it all together. Paul even acknowledges their prior experience in spiritual things in verse 2, how they had been led astray by idols. But really this is meant to say, “Hold on a second fellas. You have no idea what the Holy Spirit wants to do in you. Listen.”
He then gives them a spiritual litmus test: Those who speak by the Spirit cannot curse Jesus, and those who confess Jesus as Lord can only speak it through the Holy Spirit.
In a world like theirs, similar to ours, this litmus test was of utmost importance. With hundreds of gods to choose from, and everyone feeling like they’re a spiritual guru, this was and is one way to understand who’s a believer and who isn’t.
This litmus test had to come before Paul wrote about spiritual gifts. If they weren’t loving one another as Jesus commanded, they were in essence cursing Jesus. They claimed to speak by the Spirit (speaking in tongues) but were cursing Jesus by the way they took pride in their “spiritual arrival.” Paul needed to address the hypocrisy before teaching the truth about the Spirit and spiritual gifts.
Verses 4-6: There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.
His point is simple: To those of you who value tongues and knowledge so much, you’re missing out on everything else. There are many gifts, many types of service, and many types of workings. But only one God.
Spiritual gifts are only for the believer. Though Paul says God works them out in all men, we have to look at that in the context of what He is talking about. He just said they had been led astray by idols in their past. He just said that only people with the Holy Spirit can claim Jesus as Lord.
Verses 7-11: Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.
Paul’s basic point here is stated in verse 7: Spiritual gifts are given to each person for the common good. Each person receives a gift from the Spirit. It’s not something we can work for, not something only the spiritually elite have, and not something to be wasted or hoarded. Your spiritual gift is for the common good.
Yesterday we had the first “Fearfully and Wonderfully” Made class. And we talked about how wasting our gift is a sin. It is. Matthew 25 tells the story of the talents. The master went away on business, but before he left he gave his servants talents (money). One used the five to earn five more; another used the two to earn two more. But one buried his one talent in the ground, thinking his master would be proud of his shrewd business move. Instead his master rebuked him: “You wicked, lazy servant! You should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so when I returned I would have received it back with interest.”
Paul here says that our spiritual gifts, given to us by the Spirit, are for the COMMON good. No burying or wasting. They’re for the body of Christ.
He goes on to illustrate his point in verses 12-26.
The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be?
As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
The metaphor of a body for a bunch of people was common. Except it was generally not used in this way. The secular world used it to keep people of lower social class in their place so they wouldn’t rise up against the powerful social class.
Paul pulls a 180, saying things like, “We were all baptized by one Spirit into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free,” transcending social classes. So instead of everyone trying to become the part of the body that was craved—the head—it was okay to be something else. Not just okay, but necessary.
If everyone is an eye, how can the body hear?
And here’s the point. There must be both diversity and interdependence within the body of Christ. You have to have eyes, ears, fingers, etc. that are different from one another, and yet they all depend on one another.
Your gift isn’t any more special than mine. Mine isn’t any more special than yours. I can’t be a Christian on my own; neither can you.
To summarize, let me give you ten truths about spiritual gifts.
Only believers have spiritual gifts.
Every Christian has at least one gift.
No one receives all the gifts.
No single gift is given to everyone.
You can’t work for a spiritual gift, or it wouldn’t be a gift.
The Holy Spirit decides what gifts I get.
Knowing and accepting the gifts given to me allows me to have an accurate view of myself and my part in Christ’s body.
I am to develop the gifts God gave me.
It is a sin to waste the gifts God gave me.
The purpose of my spiritual gift is to edify the Body of Christ.