There is a group of ladies at the local church. You know them. You can even picture their faces in your mind. On the outside they look like they lead simple, quiet lives. They’ve raised their families. They work in their gardens. They bring casseroles to the sick. They gush over new babies and encourage blushing new brides. They sell handmade items at craft fairs to raise money for world missions. They give advice on how best to thaw that frozen chicken. They bring jars of honey and jam as gifts. Many have husbands who are also active in the church.
And for the past thirty years, every Thursday at 9:00 AM these men and women have gathered together in someone’s living room to pray.
As a missionary kid, and then as a missionary myself, I have grown up with the legacy of the prayers of the faithful. I am convinced that the greatest movements in world missions happen because of the prayers of faithful ordinary men and women.
Some have gone on their knees – literally, on their knees – in prayer for the nations. They offer prayers for people they will never meet. It is often done in secret, often unseen except for an Audience of One. Sometimes they don’t know what to pray for. Yet the Holy Spirit hears.
And there are others who “practice the presence of God,” They pray as they drive in traffic. They pray as they knead bread. They pray as they carry a letter to the mailbox. They are constantly in communion with God and carry others to Him in prayer.
Prayers for the Missionary
As a missionary, there’s a small group of people to whom I can trust my hardest concerns. There was the time I lived in Central Asia when the spiritual darkness was so heavy and my nightmares haunted me. People prayed that God’s light would shine through. And it did.
There was a time I was leading a ministry team and we got lost in the inner city at night. People prayed that we would find our way safely. And we did.
There were the many times when prayers were offered at the eleventh hour –prayers were sent to cover the man with the keys to the box with the stamp. You know, that stamp that would give me a visa, a visa that meant I could stay.
Prayers have been offered during our loneliest hours, asking that God would send a friend. And He did. But sometimes He let the storm rage so that total sufficiency would be found in Him alone. Still, prayers were answered.
I remember the time I dropped my passport on a cold rainy day in a city I rarely frequented. I felt the prayers. And God sent a complete stranger to find it and run down the street to give it back to me. Oh, my prayer community didn’t know that’s what they were praying for. Their prayers went something like, “God, please protect Michelle as she travels in China this week.” But He heard and He answered in specific ways.
Isn’t that wonderful!!? Our regular, ordinary prayers, sometimes-so-very-generic because that’s the best we know to offer…those prayers are then shaped by the Almighty to answer in specific ways.
Prayers for the Unreached
But it’s not just about prayers for “the missionary.” It’s prayers for the unreached. For spiritual movements to take place. For walls to break down. And for the Enemy to be defeated. At Freedom to Lead, this is what we are praying:
- Prayers to find “a man of peace” in a brand new village so that the gospel can be shared with the whole community.
- Prayers for safety in Ethiopia as the good news is spread in hostile regions.
- Prayers for water during a drought in Kenya.
- Prayers for our persecuted brothers and sisters in East India.
- Prayers for boldness in creative ways as regime changes and political climates shift making it hard to be a Christian ministry there.
- Prayers for a ministry leader in South Asia who urgently needs heart surgery in an area with limited medical opportunities.
- Prayers for the underresourced leader in Africa and Asia with a burning desire to see unreached people come to know Him. Yet, he lacks the resources and training he needs to do this effectively.
- Prayers for the thousands of churches being planted, and for those forced to close their doors because of lack of leadership.
- Prayers for women trying to find their place in a world that often doesn’t know what to do with them.
Praying with Boldness
We pray with boldness. Interceding on behalf of the nations is not for the weak. No, these are powerful men and women a half a world away who, by the grace of the blood of Christ, are able to stand before the throne of the King of the Universe asking him, pleading with him, to intervene on behalf of His people. And all of the dominions of darkness are raging war in those minutes and hours. No, prayer on behalf of the nations is not for the meek, nor is it a last resort for those who cannot do anything else. It is everything.
So, every Thursday at 9:00 these faithful people continue to meet together and pray.
And the world will never be the same.