Robin J Johnson
Recently I spoke with a young man who was home temporarily from a particular Asian country where he is serving the Lord.
I asked him if he knew of any prayer movements in that nation. His response was somewhat interesting. He paused, seemingly not sure what to say, then he said this.
“Yes, there are some groups, but we prefer to just get out there and do the stuff (work) out on the street, witnessing to young people and trying to interact with them and introduce them to Jesus. Oh, we do pray, it’s not that we don’t, but we feel we should be out there among the people.”
As we continued talking it became apparent that in his mind there was a definite difference between those who prayed and those who went out to do the “stuff”, as he put it. In his particular situation that may have been the case?
I felt somewhat saddened. For if it is true or just his perception the whole ‘them and us’ attitude is wrong. I gently pointed that out to him and explained briefly that though I was a part of an international prayer movement, I was certainly also out there doing the “stuff”. I believe he understood what I was saying.
So is there a right and wrong position? Is there a place for someone to be exclusive in one or the other? My answer is no!
Those who do the “stuff” must pray and those who pray must also do the “stuff”. It is not one or the other, they are one. They are simply the two sides of the same coin.
The prayer movement by itself will never fully see the plan and purpose of God worked out and neither will the missionary movement achieve their richest rewards, until they realize they are the one and same tool which the Lord uses to reach nations.
There cannot just be a prayer movement as there cannot just be a missionary movement, the two are inseparable, they must be one.
Jesus told His disciples to go make disciples and to teach them to obey everything that He had commanded them.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Matthew 28:19 – 20
So let’s ask ourselves, what was one of His most important commands? He told us to pray for workers to be thrust out into the harvest.
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
Matthew 9:36 – 38 (Luke 10:2)
This is where the heart of the prayer and missionary movements become one. A close friend of mine said to me recently. “Robin, I’ve been walking around and praying over my neighbourhood for a few months,” and with tears in her eyes continued, saying, “and I really do love them now and I’m looking for opportunities to speak to them about Jesus and show them His love.”
This is an age old principle. God will often times use us to answer our own prayers. Jesus told his disciples to pray for harvest workers, He then sent them out as those workers.
The “ask / pray” of Matthew 9:38 & Luke 10:2 is a Greek word which is better translated “beg” or “beseech” as one translation has it. This suggests to me that Jesus is not asking for some indifferent, dutiful expression of our lips, but He wants a heartfelt cry to the throne room of heaven for workers to be sent out into the multitude for which Jesus has great compassion.
Every great impact-full, nation changing, missionary movement began as a result of fervent prayer. Every effectual prayer movement has turned into a great missionary thrust into the harvest fields of the world.
They are the one and same coin. Sometimes we just see a different side.
Let us never abandon our fervent praying; pleading with the Lord of the harvest to send out workers. Neither let us ever not be ready to be an answer to those prayers ourselves and never unwilling to go as a much needed worker into His great harvest.