By Peter Blackaby
Whether you relate to a partner church outside your area, you are travelling on mission yourself, or you are supporting those who go from home, prayer is the lifeline for ministry! Recently I did a study of how the Apostle Paul spoke about prayer in his letters. Almost without exception, Paul would either affirm his intentional prayers for a church or would ask the church to pray for him and his ministry in specific ways.
In Paul’s day, he relied on written letters and personal messages that took time to travel. Today, we have the blessing of being able to share prayer needs and answers almost instantly. Whether you are a church plant who is supported by partners, you are a church who sends mission teams, or your church desires to pray for missionaries, the following are a few ideas that may help you better communicate and intentionally pray together.
1. Prayer Walking – Step foot on the ground and “pray with your eyes open.” Ask the Lord to let you see what He sees. Pray together as you walk. Allow natural quiet times. Allow natural encounters with individuals and lift up what you discover to the Lord. When you return, be sure to ask, “What does the Lord want us to do in response to what He has shown us?” Of course, in winter, “prayer drives” are fine too!
2. Virtual Prayer Walking – Record a “guy on the street” talking about specific ways that others can pray. Choose one or more strategic locations such as a busy street corner or a park where an event will soon be held. Talk about specific ways that individuals can pray for the people in this community or for this event. Be sure to include some panoramic shots so that those watching can truly see what you see. Share the video through youtube.com (if information is not sensitive), through a site such as dropbox.com, or by sending it on a memory stick.
3. Internet Prayer – Use the internet to discover specific ways to pray for the community. Sites such as statcan.gc.ca can give overall demographic information as you begin. Sites such as maps.google.ca can help give a visual image of the area. A basic search may reveal news stories or social issues in the community that you can pray for. This is more than simply surfing the net, so set aside a specific amount of time to search and then intentionally pray.
4. Email or Text – Email or text message short prayer requests and answers. It may be a short monthly email update or a couple of lines for an urgent real time update via text, email, or instant message.
5. Prayer Pages – Create a page on twitter.ca or facebook.com where you can share prayer matters and even upload photos… sometimes an answer to prayer can best be summed up with a simple photo and caption! If sensitive information will be shared, be sure that the page is private or by invitation only.
6. Skype or Phone – Schedule times when you are able to connect with your prayer partners via phone or Skype. Last year, a smaller church set it up so that I could skype into their Sunday worship gathering where I shared specific ways that they could pray for ministry needs. Not surprisingly, everyone seemed to know me and were asking me about answers to prayer when I visited in person a few months later.
The Apostle Paul modelled confident and intentional prayer with his partners. As we partner together, let us maximize our communication potential so that we may pray specifically and boldly for each other.