Believers in the States can often feel like they have no genuine role in the mission work that is happening in different parts of the world. They feel distant and disconnected—unable to contribute. Yet the Bible reveals a different reality, one in which all believers play a vital and effective role in the mission of God among distant lands. So what is that role? And how can believers in the States carry it out?
THE BIBLICAL PRECEDENT
The Bible indicates that prayer is an effective action. In other words, it produces a result. The Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 1:11, “You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.” He indicates that prayer actually helps him and his work. In 2 Thessalonians 3:1 Paul says, “Pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored.” He implies that the prayers of others can help propel the advance of the word of God. In another well-known verse, James says, “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (James 5:16). These passages, among many others, establish prayer as a productive activity—one that can actually effect change.
Prayer is thus an active means by which believers in one location can aid the mission work happening in another. This is why Paul desired people to pray for him and his endeavor to take the gospel to the Gentiles. Those who did so became partners with him in the work. When we embrace such a role, we likewise become co-laborers with those who are serving in distant lands. Far from being disconnected from the Great Commission, we actually play a vital role in its fulfillment.
BECOME A PARTNER IN THE MISSION
With this mind, consider becoming a strategic prayer partner with those who are serving overseas. The first step is to focus your prayers toward a specific mission and/or area of the world. For example, you could begin praying regularly for the church planting efforts of IMB personnel in Laos; or you could begin praying specifically for the Sindhi people of South Asia—that God would bring about a harvest among their unreached people group.
There are several online tools that can help you focus your prayers accordingly:
- At http://peoplegroups.org, you will find a wealth of information about thousands of people groups all over the world.
- At http://gettingthere.imbresources.org/, you will find many of the unreached people groups of the world mapped out, with information about each one and a means of adopting a people group.
- At http://prayerthreads.imb.orgd, you will find resources to help you actually connect with various unreached people groups and the IMB teams that are working among them. You can thus aid the work that is going on among a certain people and area by partnering with them in prayer. In turn, you’ll be able to hear how God is answering those prayers!
- At http://www.imb.org/pray/resources.aspx#.V8PYw7UiiCQ, you will find a search tool that will help you identify specific prayer requests that have been uploaded by IMB personnel all over the world. Many of those prayer requests come with the contact information of the missionaries who listed those requests, which allows you to follow up with them to hear how God is answering your prayers.
- At http://subsplash.com/imbpra/app, you will also find a free mobile app that will help you stay updated on the prayer needs of missionaries all over the world—all on your cell phone.
There are benefits in using these resources to focus your prayers toward a specific cause or people group. Doing so might provide opportunities to hear how your prayers are being answered. It will also help you mobilize others to pray as well, since people are more prone to give themselves to a specific cause than one that is more general and generic. This work of mobilizing others is the second step toward becoming a strategic prayer partner.
Once you have defined your prayer focus, begin enlisting others to join the mission. Samuel Zwemer once said, “The history of missions is the history of answered prayer.” And considering the multitude of people in this world who have yet to hear the gospel, it is imperative for us to both pray and mobilize others to do the same. Therefore consider using the resources listed above to lead your church or organization to adopt a specific people group or area in the world. .
This is no passive, ineffectual work. Prayer is part of the very engine that drives the advance of God’s Kingdom to the ends of the earth. Although not everyone can move overseas, the Bible encourages us all to partake in this mission through prayer. So instead of remaining passive observers, let’s put our hands to the plow and become genuine partners in the work—to the end that “the word of the Lord may speed ahead” and a great multitude from every tribe and language would be found declaring, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”