(BNC) — If the work of the church is the global proclamation of the gospel, and if the power for its mission is in the Word and prayer, congregations must make an intentional effort in its intercessions for the spread of the Good News.
Sometimes one hears general prayers in church meetings for missionaries. But probably not as often for prayers for the sick.
And church bulletins sometimes list their missions efforts, which might serve as prayer reminders, but even those have gotten axed in some places. It seems we can list people serving in the military, but not those on the mission field.
The apostle Paul knew the power of prayer and how much he himself needed others to intercede for him. Of the Colossians he requested,
At the same time pray for us too, that God may open a door for the message so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may make it known as I should. (4.3-4)
To the Ephesians he wrote,
Pray for me also, that I may be given the message when I begin to speak—that I may confidently make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may be able to speak boldly as I ought to speak. (6.19-20)
Churches organize for everything: youth activities, gospel meetings, fellowship meals. Why not for mission prayers? Do our joint prayers deserve less attention than other activities?
Some notable efforts come to light from a few congregations.
- The Lewisville, Tex., congregation posts a daily prayer request for missions by country. The text remains the same, but each post changes countries.
- The Mt Juliet, Tenn., congregation hosts a weekly prayer session for the Belém, Brazil, work they sponsor, held before each Sunday night meeting.
Besides congregational efforts, a few ministry or individual approaches can be found.
- KTTR Internet radio devotes a segment in its morning programming to intercessory prayer (about 10.45 a.m. Central Time), including missionaries and preachers. Mike Long “keeps a list and adds and edits it and remembers them by name,” Jamie Suiter, KTTR supporter, said.
- Believing Prayer is a website that focuses on prayer and teaching about prayer, often with a missional emphasis.
- The UnitedPrayer Twitter account has created a list of prayer groups to provide suggestions and ideas for saints. The groups on Twitter are not brethren, so much care is needed, like any resource not published by brethren.
About the KTTR prayers, Steve Weeks, gospel preacher with the Rylie congregation in Dallas,Tex., and radio speaker, wrote that
Our regular programs all include a prayer segment and we solicit prayer requests from our listeners regularly. One personality on the broadcasts stands out in his attempts to keep up and include all the requests that come to us. Mike Long, minister for the Saltillo church near Mt. Vernon, TX, keeps a running list of those prayer requests and prays daily on our broadcasts for those who are sick, for various Bible studies that are being conducted by or listeners, and also for the mission works that are ongoing across the world. We have regular listeners in India, the Philippines, Australia, Central America, South Africa and all parts of the U.S. from west coast to east coast. Mike prays for all of them.
Recent church-growth studies have pointed to a numerical decline in American congregations. Perhaps self-serving budgets, buildings, and programs demonstrate a selfish religion among many, rather than the selfless devotion to the Lord and his mission both far and near.
For if we were serious about the task entrusted to us by the Lord, would we not devote ourselves in an organized manner to ask for his strength and blessing?