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- In the Gulf war we are told it took twenty support personnel to keep one soldier fighting on the battle field. It highlights the importance of support. In God’s Kingdom it is equally as important that those working out mission around the world are supported as they work cross culturally.
- The focus of the talk is on partnership in prayer and how it affects mission. In Philippians 1 v3-5, Paul is thankful for partnership with that church and it is vital that is it local church supporting mission.
The Importance of the Local Church Getting Behind Those on Mission
- Advance of the gospel worldwide needs the prayer support of the local church.
- The prayer for those outworking mission worldwide needs to be the concern of the whole local church.
- This needs to be given time and priority.
- The local church must give time to maintaining an atmosphere of world mission. Otherwise prayer support will die, or it will come to be ineffective. We can do this through:
- Sunday congregational teaching on the importance of reaching the nations, on God’s heart for the nations.
- The regular exposure to apostolic and prophetic input. Apostle Paul was always looking to regions beyond and catching churches up in it. The use of the internet is really helpful as we can’t always get regular visits to our own churches.
- Mentioning and praying about the world events that are currently happening. It builds in a bigger perspective for people.
- Get speakers from other nations coming to your church. Face to face is vital.
- As local churches we need to maintain a focus on those who have been sent to the nations. This can be through:
- Public sending out – as demonstrated in Antioch.
- Receiving back – allow for the sharing and reporting back, and celebrate what has been happening.
- Up to date news and even live link ups, etc.
- Profile for those working overseas in your news to the church groups.
- Prayer coverage – When there is not air cover, then the ground troops are open to attack by the enemy. To succeed on the ground you need to ensure good prayer warfare. Bill Norton from the USA says that 80% of those who go to serve in the Middle East come back prematurely. He puts it down to the lack of prayer support for them from home base. This is seen in the Old Testament with Moses praying while Joshua fought the battle. When Moses’ hands were raised the fight was being won. In the book ‘Mountain Rain‘ about James Fraser, the key to the massive breakthrough they saw in China was the prayer group his mum started back in the UK.
Practical Advice For Those Working Cross-Culturally (or Considering It)
- Never be afraid to ask for prayer– Paul was so aware of the spiritual battle, and the priority of prayer for him to be effective, and the need for others to be praying.
- Never be afraid to ask God for dedicated prayer warriors– God really lays on some people’s heart a burden to pray. We need people who are prepared to wrestle in prayer, as it is a struggle and hard work!
- Never let prayer become an optional extra in your life – Jesus often went to a lonely place to pray. Ephesians 6 tells us to ‘pray in the Spirit on all occasions’. Speaking in tongues can often help when you don’t know what to pray or need wisdom.
- Never underestimate the power of your prayers – Our prayers really do make a difference. James 5:13-18 says that Elijah was a man with a nature just like us. He was courageous and also cowardly, and his prayers were powerful and effective. Elijah kept praying fervently until the rain came. Elijah prayed because God had spoken to him. It is worth noting Elijah’s prayer position – he put his head between his knees. He was in the Hebrew birthing position, he was bringing into reality what God had spoken about.
- Your prayers are heard – Daniel 9:22-23 talks of the angel Gabriel coming to give Daniel insight and understanding. From the first time Daniel prayed, he had been heard.
- Never forget that life is not like a battle, it is a battle! – Jesus said that ‘in the world you will have tribulation, but take heart as I have overcome the world.’ Jesus has won the victory and we need to enforce that victory. We need to pray!
Have you any helpful suggestions for a church or church plant that might want to start praying for the nations but has no history in this?
- Start small. Don’t try to do everything at once.
- Be visual. The Operation World resources are great and provide profiles on nations. There are also helpful short videos.
- Look on your family of churches’ website and see where the churches are that you can pray for.
Have you any helpful suggestions on how we can keep prayer for mission central in the life of the local church?
- There must be good leadership of it.
- Pray in small groups.
- Weeks of prayer.
- Colour code prayer requests to help people see what has been answered and what still needs a breakthrough.
How do you keep it fresh when you are asking for the same things over and over?
- Stop and ask the question, ‘Has God really spoken about this?’.
- Wait on Him and ask for guidance on what to pray for.
- The answer can often be outside the box, but it is the key to the breakthrough.
- Sometimes we do just need to wrestle and press through.
- Include worship and prayer walks.
Do you have a designated prayer group in your church for missionaries?
- Yes – various prayer groups for more urgent prayer calls.
- It’s good for more vital urgent prayers.
- WhatsApp can be great for this!
Can you unpack the theme of ‘prayer warfare’?
- Warfare is about God’s kingdom advancing and planting churches is part of this.
- We can pray for opportunities, for protection, for people to be effective in sharing the gospel.
- Prayer for safety – more missionaries are killed through road accidents than anything else.
What was the verse you used about specific prayer warriors?
- Colossians 4:12 – “Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God.”
What did Paul mean when he said ‘pray at all times’?
- It is the blessing of just bringing God into everyday life.
- Talking to Him about every aspect of your life.
- It is about a constant conversation, a natural walk.
Do you have specific lists of people you pray for on certain days?
- Yes, as it is a helpful reminder.
- It is important to not be legalistic about it.
- You can also note down what you are praying about.
Do you have any books or tools to stimulate you personal prayer life on a daily basis for world mission?
- The children’s version of Operation World is a great place to start.
- ‘Prayer‘ by Tim Keller
- ‘A Call to Spiritual Reformation‘ by Don Carson
What do you know now that you would have loved to have known about prayer and mission a number of years ago?
- How powerful prayer is.
- It’s through the years that Mike has seen how it transforms people and nations.