“Effective prayer for missions” is written by a BMM missionary in a Creative Access Nation.
Prayer is one of the hardest things in the Christian life because it is all about dependency. We’re saying to God, “I need you, and I need something from you.” It can be easier to ask other people to meet our needs than to admit our utter dependence on God. Jesus’ disciples once made an interesting request: “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). They saw Jesus praying all the time and realized He believed it was important. But they also realized they didn’t know how to pray, at least not like He prayed. So, they asked him, and He answered: He taught them valuable lessons that day. As we read the book of Acts, we realize they got it. They were always praying! And the church grew against the odds.
Missions is all about dependency on God
Missions history continued that theme: the gospel has been spreading around the world—in spite of opposition—as God’s people pray. For example, a church planted by BMM missionaries a few decades ago has, in spite of opposition and persecution, planted around 15 more, all facing similar opposition and persecution. What’s the secret? I believe it’s because 90-95 percent of their church regularly participates in their weekly prayer meeting. The opposition drives them to dependency on God. And when we go to God in dependent prayer, we are declaring that all glory for the answers must go to Him.
“I can’t do it!”
In missions, you feel your helplessness very quickly. I need to live and thrive in this foreign culture where everything seems different, and I can’t do it! I need the power of God to break into this darkness and transform lives, and I can’t make that happen! I need to love with Christ’s love, and I can’t even do that! And, so many souls without Christ! We need many more laborers called out into this harvest: and I can’t do that either! And as we pray in dependence, He shows his power. Then all the glory goes to him.
Pray with others
Individual and corporate prayer are both important, but praying with others is one of the best ways to learn to pray. When I was in college, I started meeting with a few guys every week after dinner to pray. It was really helpful. I'd encourage anyone to find one or more people and commit to praying weekly. While nothing beats face to face, phone or video calls can work too.
Next steps for effective prayer
What are the next steps in learning to pray? If you’re not participating in a regular prayer time with your local church, find one or start one. Look for one or two other people (your age or different ages) and start praying regularly. In Acts, God’s people “devoted themselves to prayer,” and even their opponents said they “turned the world upside down.” If we follow that path and devote ourselves to prayer, we can be confident we will see God work in powerful answers for His glory.