By Bob and Dian Harner, Directors of Missions Mobilization
God is undoubtedly the Sovereign King of the Universe, yet His kingdom is a contested kingdom. There is a would-be usurper, Satan, who wants the power he has been given on earth for a limited time to be extended throughout eternity. He is fighting tooth and nail, even though God has made it abundantly clear what his fate will be.
The great hymn A Mighty Fortress Is Our God portrays the battle for the kingdom: “For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe; His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate, on earth is not his equal.” The hymn goes on to say that we need not fear “the Prince of Darkness grim” because he is felled by one Word which is “above all earthly powers”. We have access to that Word through the Spirit and gifts He gives, and that Word will win the battle.
As I reflect on the reality of the contested kingdom, I am challenged and would challenge you to engage more deeply in the battle through intercessory prayer for our International Workers. Many of them are in creative access settings, which limit their ability to share details of the chronic, low-grade opposition they are facing. Other times they find themselves in protracted seasons of overt attack, like the district IW family who recently requested prayer for a series of illnesses they have been experiencing.
Just as Joshua and Israel were winning the battle against the Amalekites when Moses held up his hand and were losing when he lowered his hand (Exodus 17), our IWs may find themselves losing the battle when we neglect to pray and winning when we engage in the battle through prayer. We need to help each other keep our hands up in prayer, just as Aaron and Hur came alongside Moses and held up his hands when he grew weary, so that our IWs are consistently winning.
How can we do that since our IWs often are unable to openly share their requests?
Pray that God will soften the hearts of the people among whom our IWs are working and make them receptive to the Gospel.
Gather information about those people groups so we know more about the setting in which our IWs are working – the people’s religion, political and economic situation, etc.
Pay attention to the international news and ask God for insights into how that might affect our IWs and their work.
Receive and read the newsletters that our IWs send out, asking God how we should pray. Sometimes God gives us discernment that goes beyond what the IWs can say. Other times they can make a clear statement of how they need us to pray.
Share the information you have with trusted others who will pray, remembering not to post anything online or forward emails without the IWs’ permission.
Communicate with the Creative Access IWs you know, using care not to use church email addresses, “churchy” language or explicit wording about their country or their majority religion when the IWs are in creative access settings. Sometimes they’re able to give more details using one type of communication than another.
When a creative access IW is on home assignment, seize the opportunity to talk to them while they’re in a setting where they can talk freely. Get a better understanding of what they experience so that you can pray for them more intelligently when they return overseas.
The kingdom is contested, but victory is sure. The day will come when the Gospel is preached to all nations, and then the end will come. That end will usher us into God’s eternal kingdom. Won’t it be amazing to hear the stories of how God answered our prayers to win the battle – if we’re not too busy worshiping Him to ask?