Audio Transcript:

Welcome to Missions on Point, the Propempo perspective on church and missions.

Hello. Welcome to episode 36 of Missions on Point. We're in a series on keys to effectiveness as a missionary. These keys all have implications even in our local church and personal Christian life. This episode is on the practice and priority of prayer. You may be thinking that, of course missionaries are going to be people of prayer, and exercise and practice prayer as a priority in their life. However, I'll tell you that missionaries are real people just like us. The tyranny of the urgent of everyday things in life often overwhelms and eclipses whatever commitment they have to prayer for their ministry, and it's notable in contrast that every time a study is done on the most effective keys for church planting missionaries, that prayer comes up very high in the list. It shouldn't surprise us that missionaries that pray more actually see God work more.

Now, it shouldn't be a surprise that prayer is so important. Prayer is interwoven throughout the pages of the Bible, the Lord Jesus himself taught us to pray, modeled how to pray, encouraged us to pray, commanded us to pray. The apostles in their ministry through the rest of the New Testament continued to give an emphasis on prayer, meeting together in corporate prayer and in private prayer, in praying for all sorts of things. Prayer is an attitude of dependence upon God, which demonstrates that only God is able to transform and change lives through the power of the gospel, it's not because of our work. We are totally dependent upon God to do his work, and a prayerfulness reflects that. We do pray for witness, we pray for people to be saved, we pray for the ongoing message and proclamation of the gospel through every means and methodology to be fruitful in bringing people to saving faith in Christ. Praying for the witness of the gospel in the hearts of the hearers of unbelievers is very important.

We also pray for warfare. Paul tells us that the weapons of our warfare are not physical, they are spiritual. We pray for release of people from, we pray that we would be protected from Satan's wiles and whatever opposition that Satan may encourage against the work of the ministry on the field. We have to understand that prayer is kind of like giving the laser guided request from heaven, for heaven's weapons to be zeroed in on exactly where they need to be, and God has ordained prayer as a means to accomplish his will.

We also need to pray for wisdom. We are fallen people, we are weak, we don't understand things as we should. We often can't interpret God's daily providences in the right light. And so again, we're dependent upon God to give us wisdom, to help us to navigate through the ministry day by day by day, to have a heavenly perspective, and to grow even in ourselves in Godly character.

We also pray for worship, it should be a daily part of our life that we spend the personal discipline of worship of God, and some of that time is spent in prayer. We're praying in praise to God, in thankfulness to God, looking for him to work, and in so doing, we sharpen our sight as it were, our spiritual sight and vision, to see when God is actually working, and to expect him to work. We are always praying in worship to God through the day, just giving him thanks for everything like meals, and waking up in the morning, and the opportunities we have for witness and ministry where we are.

We also pray for good in results and God's good for others. There are lots of examples of this. We pray for God's purposes to be fulfilled, we want to pray for the overall welfare of the ministry so that we see and give God the glory for every advance.

Prayer is absolutely essential to our spiritual fruitfulness, both locally and globally. Prayer is one of those things that we can participate in, in doing missions here as we pray for the workers and the word to be proclaimed across the world, even though we can't be there personally, God knows, hears, and understands our prayers and sees them effectually answered on the ground across the world. What does this mean in practical life for the missionary? Well, it means more than just praying a prayer of grace over meals. It means being very intentional and having time set apart to pray. Some missionaries pray while they walk through the town, quite intentionally, a prayer walk praying for those people that they see along the way, their friends and neighbors, praying for opportunities for the gospel, praying for opportunities for ministry, and that's very effective.

However, I think it's really good to set aside a block of time that is committed day by day for prayer. The surveys and the studies show that effective church planters spend on average 30 minutes a day praying for the church planting ministry in all of its aspects, so that time set aside, whether individually, or as a church planting team, to pray for individuals, to pray for the witness and the work of the ministry, is used by God to bring his desired fruit and results, just as a matter of practice in practical life even for us as Christians here, that prayer should be the first resort, not the last resort.

Often we hear Christians talking and somebody lifts up a particular need or concern, and we say, kind of tritely, we'll pray for you, but then later we forget, or we don't pray. I really think it's a great practice to say, let's pray right now. Even if it's a short prayer, it's a pause that says we're bringing God into the equation in this concern, whatever it is, and asking God to show up and answer. Having that kind of practice makes prayer a priority and people begin to weave it into their personal, spiritual life, culture, and the culture of those that they work with, minister with, fellowship with, in their church, or in their group, or in their church planting team.

It's actually a good thing, even with unbelievers in your world, to say, can I pray with you about that, and can I pray right now, and keep it really simple. Not a preachy prayer, but a to-the-point prayer, so that when that prayer gets answered, it's very clear, even to the unbeliever, that God answered that prayer and they heard you pray it. These kinds of practices and habits should be characteristic of the missionary that wants to be effective, faithful, and fruitful over the long haul. This principle or this key certainly has application in our local church.

How much do we emphasize prayer? How many people actually show up for a prayer meeting? Is it that important? Do they regard it as significant enough to have this special kind of communication with God in such a way that people show up to pray?

One of the great results of having a practice and priority of prayer is it keeps our focus on God. We don't get to claim credit for advances in the ministry. When we have this dependency of God in prayer, and we see God answer prayer, it's obvious to us as well, that God gets the glory and we do not, which is a very healthy aspect of retaining and building humility in ministry. Prayer should be woven through our whole life as Christians. It's said that prayer is the basis for all of ministry, so we need to be prayerful in order to have effective ministry at all.

There are lots of examples of answered prayers that are outstanding, remarkable examples. We have them from our life and ministry. I remember one time when we were waiting to leave Manila to go up to our tribal area, and we just didn't have enough funds to start this project, which was very important to the growth of the ministry. As we were packing the truck to leave, I was approached by another missionary that was in charge of managing the finances, who said there was a special gift that had arrived just then. Obviously because of our times, the donor that gave that special gift had to be praying in answer to our prayers, and writing the check and sending it through the system weeks ahead of time for it to arrive at exactly the right time, for us to go on our way rejoicing, knowing that God had provided for us.

There are lots of resources to help you understand how to pray for your missionary. The missionary needs to communicate what those requests are with you, so that you know how to pray for them. Encourage your missionaries to communicate well what their needs are, what their prayer concerns are, even for their own personal life, and marriage, and family, and government relationships, and outreach, and names of people if possible, to pray for, specifically for salvation, ministry projects and teaching programs, all the things that are necessary for them to accomplish their ministry so that you can pray, and you can partner with them in prayer to see those things answered by God.

I've said this about the last few keys to effectiveness, and I'll say it for this one too. Don't be afraid to ask your missionary about their practice and priority in prayer. Encourage them to set aside specific blocks of time every day if possible, for prayer for the ministry, whether it is individually or with one other person on their team, or with the whole team together, that they are consistently submitting themselves to God's hand and asking him for his grace and mercy to be poured out in spiritual fruitfulness for the work.

Then don't fail to ask the same thing of yourself and of your church. Is the practice and priority of prayer evident in your church life, in your church calendar, in your church culture as people interact together? Prayer for each other is one of those things that we are committed to doing over, and over, and over again as we walk this pilgrim pathway together and see God at work transforming our lives, making us more like Christ for his glory.

Thanks for joining us today on Missions on Point, the Propempo perspective on church and missions. I trust that you'll find more help and resources on the website, Please preferably consider supporting this ministry. Now to God be glory in the church, and in Christ Jesus forever and ever, amen.

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