By Russ Pfeifer, Global Outreach Commission Chair
In Matthew 9, Jesus exhorts the disciples to pray that the Lord would send out laborers into the harvest.
Thanks to the support of our Tenth family, the Global Outreach Commission works with missionary partners around the globe as well as a host of cross-cultural outreach ministries here in the city. That is a rich blessing indeed. For one, it speaks to the strength of our prayer efforts. One example is that just recently we engaged an opportunity with Bethany Christian Services to be involved with a refugee ministry. Over the period of a few weeks, we determined not so much to take action as to just sit back and pray. And sure enough, God is bringing us servants who are committing to this work. It is never a surprise and always wonderful to see our King honoring his word in raising up laborers.
So what is this petitionary prayer? David Wells in Prayer: Rebelling Against the Status Quo says, “lt is, in essence, rebellion—rebellion against the world in its fallenness, the absolute and undying refusal to accept as normal what is pervasively abnormal. It is, in this its negative aspect, the refusal of every agenda, every scheme, every interpretation that is at odds with the norm as originally established by God.”
Looking around at the world after the fall can be unsettling. Wells is right when later he says that often we accept the fallenness as it is. It’s just easier to call a truce. After all, what can we really do about ISIS, Zika, the refugees, and all the rest? Or closer to home, our children, the public schools, pornography. It’s too big for us to deal with. Will my praying really make a difference? Don’t I have enough to worry about?
And then of course we have a very powerful enemy working very subtly against our prayer efforts. Prayer shakes the gates of hell itself, and over time, this enemy wants sin to wear us down and erode our confidence in prayer. In a variety of ways, sin actively tells us that our God is too small and that our problems are too big. He wants to lull us into complacency and away from prayer.
But talk to missionaries and you’ll find that they know the power of prayer as well. A missionary will tell you first hand the very tangible result of prayer on the mission field. Sin, after all, does everything it can to suppress a very wonderful truth. The truth that we pray to our heavenly father who can do immeasurably more than all that we ask or even imagine. The truth that with our God we can scale a wall (Psalm 18), that we are more than conquerors (Romans 8), and that the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective (James 5).
We are exhorted even to approach the throne of grace boldly (Hebrews 4). Our missionary partners know full well that they need to be supported by bold, confident, persistent prayer. Like us, they need their graces to be fresh and vigorous, their minds stayed on him, and their supply to be unchoked, open and free flowing. They often see up close how Satan rages against the church, how wickedness increases, and how the battle is hard fought. Our missionaries have answered a specific call, among other work, to do Bible translation in the Middle East, to plant churches in Turkey, and to train pastors in Muslim environments. Think they need our prayer?
In speaking of praying for missions, E. M. Bounds in The Essentials of Prayer, says that “the key of all missionary success is prayer. That key is in the hands of the home churches…The home church on her knees fasting and praying, is the great base of spiritual supplies, the sinews of war, and the pledge of victory in this dire and final conflict.”
In John Piper’s Let the Nations be Glad!, the point is repeated that missions exists because worship doesn’t. There is a time coming when missions won’t be necessary. But until that time, we have committed missionaries, and they need our prayer.
Are you praying or is your small group praying for a missionary? If you’d like to join this effort, pick up our Global Ties brochure from the lobbies and/or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Global Outreach Commission has many ways for you to maintain contact with our missionaries. Take advantage of every opportunity, for indeed, the days are evil.