I’ve just returned from the Gathering in Christchurch. That, for me, includes the Baptist Missionary Fellowship (BMF) meeting. I went with a concern that maybe we need to build again the ‘habit of prayer’ in our movement. We certainly prayed at the BMF day. The programme was designed around prayer. That was an encouragement.
Then we moved to the main part of the Gathering. I don’t know whether others heard it but, for me, from Thursday night and through into Friday, speaker after speaker talked about new opportunities, new challenges, and ‘the need for prayer.’
We’ve been talking about that in our leadership meetings in the NZBMS and now here were other leaders calling for the same thing. And it wasn’t just a general statement, “we need to pray, please pray.” The speakers were calling for prayer.
One speaker issued a challenge to establish a habit of prayer - 5:5:5 prayer – praying for 5 minutes, 5 days a week, about 5 issues. It reminded me of Isaiah 62:6, “I’ve posted watchmen on your walls, Jerusalem. Day and night they keep at it, praying, calling out, reminding God to remember. They are to give him no peace until he does what he said” (The Message).
There’s our challenge – we need you to pray.
You can’t read that slide above, can you? I’m not surprised; you can’t read it blown up on a screen either. To fit all the names on I had to make the font very small. These are the names of many of the people your missionaries are working with and touching base with every day in South India, Thailand, Bangladesh, Macao and China. Some are on their journey with Jesus now; some have yet to begin it. Some are challenged by poverty, marginalisation, abuse. Many with challenges too big, too complicated to solve. For many, there is no human solution available. The answer lies in God acting in their lives in a way that they can recognise so they will have the confidence to continue living no matter how their circumstances change.
You see, knowing God may not change the circumstances of life or give a solution but it does give the confidence, security and hope to live tomorrow.
Like the young employee who has been scammed on the internet with the offer of marriage. Over a period of a year and a half she’s been scammed to the point where she is now in such debt that even if she sold all her assets she still could not repay what she owes. She now can’t attend community events because she can’t afford to and she feels she’s lost face as a leader in her community. Almost weekly she says to me, “The only thing that keeps me alive is knowing that God has not deserted me.” She knows that because she talks with him each day.
“People need the Lord” – so the song goes – and we’re asked to pray, so that they will know him.
“I’ve posted watchmen on your walls, Jerusalem. Day and night they keep at it, praying, calling out, reminding God to remember. They are to give him no peace until he does what he said ...” Isaiah 62:6.
I wonder whether God is talking to you and me in Isaiah 62:6; or is he talking about you?
• John is team leader of MPIL, one of the four mission entities of NZMBS