Missional Prayer: Concluding Thoughts

To conclude my series on prayer, I would like to take us back to John Piper’s wartime analogy as he explains why prayer malfunctions.  If you can remember, Piper stated that “God has given us prayer as a wartime walkie-talkie so that we can call headquarters for everything we need as the kingdom of Christ advances in the world.”  We have seen this to be true in the lives of Jesus, the early church, and the Apostle Paul.

And yet.

We are living in a time where it seems that prayer is malfunctioning on a daily basis.  Consider what Piper has to say:

“Probably the number one reason prayer malfunctions in the hands of believers is that we try to turn a wartime walkie-talkie into a domestic intercom.  Until you know that life is war, you cannot know what prayer is for.  Prayer is for the accomplishment of a wartime mission.  It is as though the field commander (Jesus) called in the troops, gave them a crucial mission (go and bear fruit), handed each of them a personal transmitter coded to the frequency of the General’s headquarters, and said, ‘Comrades, the General has a mission for you.  He aims to see it accomplished.  And to that end he has authorized me to give each of you personal access to him through these transmitters.  If you stay true to his mission and seek his victory first, he will always be as close as your transmitter, to give tactical advice and to send air cover when you need it.

But what have millions of Christians done?  We have stopped believing that we are in a war.  No urgency, no watching, no vigilance.  No strategic planning. Just easy peace and prosperity.  And what did we do with the walkie-talkie?  We tried to rig it up as an intercom in our houses and cabins and boats and cars–not to call in firepower for conflict with a mortal enemy but to ask for more comforts in the den.”

Over the course of this mini series, I have sought to argue the reciprocal natural of mission and prayer.  The more we participate in the mission, the more we will realize our utter dependency upon God in prayer and call upon Him for protection, provision, and power to advance the cause of the gospel.  The more we participate in prayer, the more mission-oriented and aligned to the Father’s will we will become as the trajectory of our lives is dictated by the glories of heaven, not the realities of earth.

Jesus tell us that problem in the mission is not the harvest but the laborers, and the solution to that problem is not a new recruiting strategy or campaign but rather praying to the Lord of the harvest.  He shows, consequently, that prayer is a divinely appointed means of living as “sent” laborers in the harvest field (mission).  God will change the hearts of those living in the den seeking more comforts to be laborers on the front lines in the battle, and He chooses to do so with an open ear to the pleading hearts of those asking, seeking, and knocking for triumphs of the gospel in the hearts of men.

May God transform our lives with prayers that transcend our lives.  There’s a mission to embrace, a gospel to proclaim, a Savior to treasure.  There’s nothing the enemy would want more than for us to use our correspondence with the Father on matters not pertaining to his defeat.  Prayers soaked in the gospel and singed by God’s glory cannot but produce a heart emblazoned for the mission of rescuing sinners ensnared by the devil to do his will.  Those solemn words, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done . . .” is missional reminder that life is war, and this is, as Piper rightly argued, what prayer is ultimately for.

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3 Comments on “Missional Prayer: Concluding Thoughts”

  1. Thanks for this series. I think your conclusion hits the nail on the head. The problem with my prayers are they are “Lord, help me find a parking space, so I can get the Christmas shopping done.” Then I add, because I’m not stupid – “So I can make it to church ontime tonight for prayer meeting”. Like my excuses – will convince God that I’m on his mission.

    My prayers need to change as I learn missional/kingdom thinking through the transforming work of the Holy Spirit. Thanks again, Timmy.

  2. Jared Says:

    Timmy, thanks for this series, brother.

  3. This has indeed been a great series. My own participation in missions has led to a continual development of my prayer life. I have come to a place where I always consider who God is with respect to any petitions I have to Him. I do typically use a formula so that I don’t forget this, but it’s not in any magic formula for prayer that our prayers are more effective. It’s rather in our growing relationship to Him. For what kind of relationship do I have with Him if I don’t rightly have the facts straight about who He is?

    Therefore, whether I’m in Venezuela taking the gospel out to neighborhoods hungry for the gospel or on the streets of London distributing the Bible to Muslims, the same God is at work in people’s hearts and everything we do must be not merely laced but laden with prayer.

    In London, for example, we rotate people standing on the street with people who are in constant prayer and if any get into a spiritual conversation with someone, there are always team members nearby who observe at a distance in constant prayer. More than once as I prayed there I was moved to tears at the power of God and a burden for the people. And as I engaged and was prayed for, I felt the power of God moving me to do things I wouldn’t have had the gumption to do on my own or reminding me of things I learned that helped me speak clearly to someone. You can’t walk away from that and not be changed by it.

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