I’m old enough to remember the campfire tune, “It only takes a spark, to get a fire going.” It’s fun to envision Smokey the Bear singing it as a fire prevention jingle. Seriously, a spark could be a good metaphor for prayer and mission. Sparks are initial impulses. A spark in an engine eventually moves your car.
Could Prayer Spark Mission?
I firmly believe prayer is the leading edge of mission, or the spark! Over the last two years, the Revitalize theme has called us to grow in gospel sharing. My worry is that we tend towards manufacturing results based on our efforts.
After Dave Acree retired from ably leading us as Prayer and Spiritual Life Catalyst, we had to make a decision about who was going to be the EFCC champion for prayer. In attempting to make that decision, we kept coming back to a key thought. Simply this, there seems to be a vital link between prayer and mission. Therefore, it could make sense for the National Mission Director to champion prayer and here I am.
Having offered that explanation, I have three quick thoughts as to how prayer can spark mission:
Prayer should put us in a posture of submission
Our prayers ought to come from an, “Our Father, who art in heaven”, posture. We acknowledge that we are under the will of our heavenly father and open ourselves up to what he wants to accomplish in and through us. I think that is a key characteristic of a disciple. I have recently been grappling with this simply definition of a disciple, “a person who hears the voice of Jesus and responds in obedience”. If our prayers led us to that kind of obedience, would we see more gospel sharing?
Prayer reshapes our understanding of God’s love
Just a bit before the Lord’s Prayer in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, “Love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.” To love as God loves, means all people are worthy of our love, and care. Praying for enemies opens us to the transforming work of the Holy Spirit. It sparks true love within us. We move from seeing enemies to seeing people in need of love and the Good News of Jesus. What would our witness look like if we truly took this command of Jesus to heart?
We pray to the Lord of the Harvest
Let’s finish with Luke 10:2, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.” Could our prayers actually multiply the mission workforce? This statement of Jesus indicates they could.
As we contemplate the state of the church, our meager witness, or a seeming lack of spiritual passion, I suspect the spark of a remedy is not in new programs, or better buildings, or more cash…but simply in reconnecting with the One who is the hope of the nations.