“Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.” (Colossians 4:2-4)
One night during a thunderstorm I was watching the magnificent display of cosmic fireworks when all of a sudden there was a mighty explosion right in our own back yard, an extravaganza of sight and sound. Lightning had struck the transformer. In a moment we lost all light and power. For days. Interesting, because giant towers trooped through the fields a half mile away, bearing unlimited supplies of light and power. But here we were without refrigeration, without light, without hot water, without capacity to cook.
Like many Christians. The power flows all around them, but they aren’t connected with the source. The connecting line, of course, is prayer. Through prayer, the resources of heaven flow to us in light and power and through us to a dark world under siege. As E M Bounds said, “much prayer, much power; little prayer, little power, no prayer, no power.”
Pray for what? What do you pray for? Healing? Yes. Our loved ones? Yes, of course. In fact, he invites us to ask whatever we wish. But if you’re in love with someone what do you seek after most? What will please her, what will fulfill him, right? So are you in love with Jesus? Then what does he want, what is his #1 desire? John 3.16: “for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whoever believes should not perish but have eternal life.”
So, for a lost world, the first and most important activity is to link up through prayer with the omnipotent and let the light and power flow through. Improbable as it may seem, scary as it may seem, we are the power line, the conduit for world evangelism. How do we connect and let it flow? And when we do connect, what should flow? Consider, then, the How and What of prayer for missions as found in Colossians 4:2-4: Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. First the “how”. Continue––regular and don’t quit.
Consider the Korean church. How can we explain the incredible growth and missionary sending power? Peter Wagner said that no Korean pastor spends less than 1 hour a day in prayer and 47% spend 2 hours or more. At a Missions rally in early 80’s there was perhaps the largest gathering in history. One million, seven hundred thousand! At the last night 600,000 prayed all night. What was the result? Thousands stood to commit to missionary service. Result of such praying? A church of power. 30,000 missionaries committed to going!
How to pray? Continue in regular, daily, persistent prayer. This is more than mentioning a name. Pray Earnestly. A morning sleepy salute toward heaven won’t do. It is spiritual warfare: see Colossians 2.1: know how great a struggle I have for you ….and for all those who have not seen me face to face. Also 4:12: Epaphras….always struggling on your behalf in his prayers. Paul says, “Continue earnestly”. Warfare!
Be vigilant. This is a military term which means to keep your watch, be on battle alert. Pray, not only in the regular, daily spiritual combat, but on guard for the in-between times, too. I was on a trip to Tanzania, Thanksgiving, 1988 and was detained in the airport. For hours, alone and unsure what would happen. But in New Jersey there was a soldier on battle alert. In a nursing home, 90 years old, Mrs. Eisenrach prayed. In the middle of her night for me. A few hours later, the pilot returned unexpectedly to take me to safety.
With thanksgiving. What does that mean? Intercession and thanksgiving, too. Yes, but more: prayer that can give thanks in advance. In other words, faith! Expectancy of faith.
How can we be sure we are heard and that the answer is on the way? When, like Daniel, we pray according to the promises of God. For these you can pray with thanksgiving that he will answer, because he’s told us in advance what he wills to happen.
In other words, frequent, fervent, faith – filled. That’s HOW to pray.