Building a culture of prayer
SOME YEARS BACK my leadership colleagues and I agreed that World Outreach International should purposely adopt a culture of prayer. You might think this would be a fundamental part of what a mission organisation is about; however, when many churches worldwide struggle to get 10% of their members to a prayer meeting, you can be sure that the same busyness and whatever other excuses churchgoers have, can just as easily be used by mission workers.
It’s vitally important that we regularly dedicate quality time to seek the face of the Lord. We really can’t afford not to! Oswald Chambers says, “Prayer is not preparation for the work; it is the work!” A good reminder for God’s busy people! God wants intimacy with us. We only gain intimacy with God by seeking Him with all our heart. It is easy to be busy doing things for the Lord but we need to be reminded He is more interested in our walk with Him and being intimate with us, than in the activities we do for Him. A sad thing is many people do things for God but don’t walk with Him – see Matthew 7:21–23.
Prayer also gives us a revelation of who we really are in the Lord. The following verse in Isaiah 30:15 has been a great blessing to me of late: “…in quietness and confidence shall be your strength…”
I was blessed when David McCracken (from Australia) shared on this verse recently, where he approached it backwards. He said, “The word ‘strength’ in Hebrew means great force, power, victory. In our hearts we need to see Jesus not as a carpenter but as our victorious King, the triumphant One. Such strength comes out of confidence. The word ‘confidence’ in Hebrew means security, belief, certitude, assurance. Belief in the power and conviction that God is trustworthy. Knowing who we are in Christ gives us this confidence. Such confidence not only empowers oneself but also those around us. ‘Quietness’ in Hebrew means take rest, be still, be undisturbed, be at peace. Lack of listening in prayer (to the Lord) can cause us to lose confidence and then strength. You cannot obey what you have not heard.”
When involved in any cross-cultural endeavours, one can face many obstacles on a regular basis, some of which can be overwhelming at times, causing anxiety, even loss of perspective. When “in quietness and confidence shall be your strength” becomes a reality in one’s life and we know who we are in Christ Jesus, then we don’t have the mind-set of leaving Him out of any equation or forgetting His promises or His faithfulness or turning to Him as a last resort. No, rather prayer and faith should well up in our hearts declaring the greatness and vast superiority of our victorious Saviour in the face of any challenge or obstacle before us.
The Holy Spirit is speaking to a number of us in WOI about expansion, growth, new initiatives, etc. No doubt, there will be challenges and obstacles ahead! God won’t ask us to do something that He won’t empower us to do. Empowerment comes out of listening to Him – as a result of prayer. It is our heart’s desire that out of obedience to His word spoken to us, WOI will only get involved in things He is showing us to do, for only the things He asks us to do for Him have any eternal value and fruitfulness.
Your prayer partnership in both the present and the future ministry of WOI is greatly appreciated. If you would also like to participate in our July and January “prayer and fasting” months, then email email@example.com and we will gladly involve you.
John is the Present Emeritus of World Outreach. He lives with his wife, Mary, in New Zealand.