By Bob and Dian Harner, Directors of Missions Mobilization
Information. It is so readily available today that sometimes we experience information overload. Instant information is at our fingertips. We can get the answer we need at the moment we need it. We have instant access to people through the wonders of technology. So how ironic it is, that even though we have instant access to our International Workers (IWs), they often cannot communicate freely and with clarity the things they would really like us to know. However, is that really a bad thing? It could force us to give thought to and seek the Spirit’s guidance as to how we ought to pray, instead of uttering mindless prayer requests off a list.
In case you can’t tell, I’m still thinking about how important prayer is when it comes to defeating the enemy who is contesting God’s sovereign reign of the kingdom. We know that God has temporarily allowed Satan to rule in the world. When any believer shares the gospel by demonstration or proclamation, contesting Satan’s rule and affirming the victory that Jesus has already won, he can expect Satan to try to thwart these expressions of the Good News. So how can we best pray for our IWs at times when we don’t have specific requests from them?
Reflecting on my own experiences as an IW, back when communicating through technology was far more difficult, I’d say that asking God to do in our IWs the things we ask Him to do in ourselves would be a good place to start. My struggles as an IW were often the same kinds of struggles any believer in America might face. Though the context was different, my friends could sympathize with me because they faced many of the same struggles. And because they had faced the same struggles, they had insight into how to pray. Perhaps our current IWs are stronger in their faith than I was, more mature and better prepared, but let’s just imagine that they also face the struggles that I did. For example:
Do you wish you were bolder in your witness?
Do you recognize openings to spiritual conversations after the opportunity has passed?
Does it feel like you find yourself thinking of a great response to your friend’s question after you get home more often than while you are in the situation with your friend?
You’re not alone. I sure found myself feeling that way a lot. You quickly understand how intimidating it can be to witness even in a familiar situation. Now imagine doing it in a place where there is a different, possibly hostile, majority religion, a new culture, and having to do it in your second or third language. Even the great missionary Paul – and I’m not comparing myself to him – asked for prayer for boldness. He told the Ephesians, “Pray also for me, that words may be given me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel . . . that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.” (Eph. 6:19-20) It is no surprise that he requested this after instructing them to put on the full armor of God. This is warfare prayer.
If you’re like me, there are probably times when you have been sure you were doing what God told you to do, but there was no fruit. It seems like it would be so much easier to quit and try something else, but you sense God telling you to stick with it. Most of our Alliance workers are among unreached people. The fruit takes a long time to ripen before it can be harvested. Sometimes they feel like giving up. The author of Hebrews gives us great thoughts on how to pray for them: “…Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured from sinners such hostility against Himself, so that you do not grow weary or fainthearted.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)
Do you sometimes find yourself facing conflict? Sometimes the conflict is a result of differing opinions on how to reach the same goal. IWs are passionate about their work, but they don’t always agree on strategy. In Jesus’ high priestly prayer in John 17, He prayed that we would be one as He and the Father are one. As if there aren’t enough opportunities for conflict due to personality differences and personal preferences. Satan loves to fuel discord among believers. This can be within a family, on a team, or between IWs and national believers. Our prayer for ourselves and our IW friends can be Romans 15:5-6: “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
There are so many other examples of how we can pray for our IWs. Some are as simple as being reminded by your own fatigue to pray for strength and rest for an IW when you ask God for strength and rest for yourself.
May we allow God to use the circumstances of our lives to awaken us to the ways we can pray for our co-laborers around the world. May our prayer lives be characterized by a consciousness that what God allows in our lives can be turned to prayers that impact the advancement of His Kingdom.
Click the links below for some other resources to fuel your prayers:
SAVE THE DATE:
District-Wide Missions Event
Ignite: Fan the Flame
October 18 and 19, 2019 | Westside Alliance Church, Cleveland