Prayer… for R.E.A.L.
Putting Together a Prayer Support Team for Missions
I don’t know about you but when I dive into something brand new in a new place doing something that truly MATTERS in an eternal way, I want people praying for me… for REAL. You see – I already KNOW that on my own, I don’t have all the answers or the wisdom or the skills or the strength I need to share Jesus in a new culture. So how do I gather REAL pray-ers? I don’t want the ones who (like me sometimes) say they will pray but then don’t. Here are some ideas to help you figure out who you might just be looking for.
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James 5:16 says that the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. So if you are looking for powerful and effective prayer on your behalf, you are looking for someone who LIVES out their love for Jesus. This means that they keep His commands (John 14:15) and live His way with joy. This DOESN’T mean that they are perfect already - but they are someone who BELIEVES God in such a way that it changes their actions (Rom 4:3). This means that as you gather your pray-ers, ideally you know them - at least by reputation. Of course, ask your whole church to pray for you. BUT… oh the VALUE of gathering those you know are righteous who will bring those powerful and effective prayers.
Elijah is mentioned as someone who prayed earnestly and it did not rain as a result (James 5:17). Praying earnestly implies an engaged heart, a belief that your prayer is being heard EVEN IF you are waiting a long time, EVEN IF you need to persist in prayer. Now - it’s a bit of a weird story but Jesus tells a parable about a person who kept asking and asking his friend for bread until the friend was annoyed enough to answer. Jesus said the friend didn’t share his bread out of friendship but… just to get the person to stop asking. Then Jesus connects it to prayer and says we should keep on asking, keep on seeking and keep on knocking if we want God to be willing to answer our prayer. (Luke 11:8-10). So who do you know that is persistent even to the point of being annoying sometimes? Who is going to keep on asking on your behalf? That kind of earnest prayer is what gets answered. Find those people and add them to your prayer group email list … You NEED them.
Anxious for nothing
That’s one way of saying someone isn’t a worrier. They are not anxious about anything. Philippians 4:6 says, ‘Be anxious for nothing but in every situation by prayer and petitions with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.’ Who do you know that doesn’t worry? Yeah, I know - probably no one. It seems that we all somehow think we can worry our way into solving or fixing something. But, I’m willing to bet there are a few people who come to mind who are characterized instead by thanksgiving. These people choose to be grateful when a worry pops into their minds. We can’t avoid the feeling of worry showing up BUT we CAN decide to let that worry take root OR we can pray with thanksgiving and send it on its way. Prayers like: ‘I know my daughter is off at college on her own… thank you that YOU see her, God, and YOU are with her and YOU love her more than I do.’ Where are your grateful friends? These are the friends who will pray for you OFTEN … because they are in the habit of turning their worry into thankful prayers. And you know how often worry will raise its head! So add to your pray-ers those ‘anxious for nothing’ friends and you will find you are being prayed for more frequently. Who doesn’t want that?
Now I’m sure you’ve heard before the definition of prayer as being a conversation with God. And I’m sure you also know from experience that in a good conversation, both people take turns speaking and listening. So how are your listening skills in your conversations with God (prayer)? David has this great conversation with God in 1 Samuel 23: 1-4 when he asks for God’s advice - twice even because he’s not sure the first time- and then he obeys. Did you know that the word for obey (hupakouo in the Greek) actually means to listen? Who do you know that listens to God? Who actively keeps their ears and hearts tuned for God’s voice? If someone comes to mind - go out right now and ask them to be one of your pray-ers. If they are someone who listens to God, they are people who know His will. And you know full well that God answers prayers that are prayed according to His will (1 John 5:14-15). You need those listeners on your team.
So, as you are preparing to head to a new culture, bursting with this GOOD NEWS of Jesus, make sure you have some Righteous, Earnest, Anxious for nothing, Listeners who are praying for you. What a gift those pray-ers are! Never underestimate the importance of having REAL pray-ers on your team.