National P astors' P rayer N etwork

 

Connecting Leaders for Prayer and City Transformation

 

Inner~View #48: Missional Centered Praying

“ We will never waste a prayer on missionaries. They need them, they want them. They feel them!”

—from the foreword by Beth Moore


Phil Miglioratti interviewed Mary Ann Bridgwater, author of Prayers for the Faithful: Fervent Daily Prayer & Meditations for Christians Serving Around the World


Phil ~ We have all seen and read books on praying for others and books on missions but your new book is unique in that you combine the two. What prompted you to write this book?

Mary Ann ~ Phil, I believe that Prayer and Missions are inseparable. In 1989 the Lord called my husband and me to take our first short-term mission trip with other members from our church to Hydrabad, India. Obedience to this call meant that we would be leaving our two daughters who were six and nine years of age, family members, and truly everything that we cherished and loved to travel half way across the world to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. From the depth of my heart I KNEW I had to have the prayer support of my church. I needed and wanted my church to be praying daily for all of us that were on the mission team, for our families, and the work of Salvation that God purposed. It was then I felt compelled by the Holy Spirit to prepared my first prayer guide with the Word of God supporting the agenda we believed the Lord had given us. It gave the team members and me peace, as well as great expectancy that God indeed would accomplish all that He promised as prayers were lifted! He did accomplish all that He promised and much more! There were many who came to know Christ as their Lord and Savior! The lives of those who accepted Christ were changed but our lives had been changed as well and we knew it was only done through the power of prayer! When we came home we had the opportunity to testify to our church what only God could have done and it was done because they had joined arms with us and prayed! There were many Spiritual encounters with God and we all KNEW it was the power of others intentionally taking the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God and praying for us as we served.

Through the years my family and I have continued to participate in short term mission trips. I served for many years on the Missions Council at my church as Chairman of Prayer, hearing regularly from the heart of missionaries as they came home on furlough. This has greatly impacted my life.

The cry of any missionary has always been for the church to pray for them! God is the One who birthed this book from many who prayed that we the Church would continually pray for Christians who serve around the world before I was even born. It is all about Him! It includes missionary testimonies with specific scriptures to pray for their specific needs. Prayers for the Faithful is a tool for the church to use in praying for all Christians who have answered the call “Here I am, Send me”.


Phil ~ In his introduction to your book, Dr. Jerry Rankin states "For some reason, God has chosen to limit His activity in the world to the prayers of His people." How has that astounding truth impacted you?

Mary Ann ~ This is an astounding truth Phil and raises urgency in my heart to continue to “pray” and “go” sharing the incredible Truth’s about prayer! In 1 Corinthians 1:9 it is written that …God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful. (NIV)

God has called us, His sons and daughters to have a daily, on going, intimate, love relationship with Him. I believe this cannot be to the full measure God intends without daily communicating with Him from the Word of God in prayer. He wants to manifest His presence in our lives to bring Him honor, glory, and power.

When I first began to pray the Word of God I not only encountered the presence of answered prayer in my own life but I began to see answered prayer in the lives of those for whom I prayed. I went to God and asked Him to give me understanding from His Word the power that is unleashed when I prayed His promises with all my heart believing Him for His Word.

One of the Truth’s He shared with me was from Ephesians1:19-23:

That power is like the working of His mighty strength, which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed Him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. (NIV

Wow! The same power that God exerted in Christ Jesus when He raise Him from the dead!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The astounding statement made by Dr. Rankin again reminds me of the importance to PRAY the Word of God daily for missionaries and the work of God to be done on this earth as it is in Heaven! It is written in James 4:2 You do not have, because you do not ask God. Jesus said that the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. We need to be praying …asking the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field. Matthew 9:37-38


Phil ~ How would using Prayers for the Faithful actually teach someone about praying?

Mary Ann ~ Prayers for the Faithful includes the acronym PRAY. This insight came from the book of Exodus where I found P R A Y to correspond to the pattern of Worship illustrated for us by the features of the earthly tabernacle.

At the beginning of each chapter in Prayers for the Faithful the topic for the week includes a testimony from a missionary. When a person is faithful to the work of God and places God above all their circumstances it is a great encouragement for all of us. The testimony strengthens and encourages us to draw closer in our relationship with Christ. I gain a love not only for the missionary who has shared their testimony but my love for Christ becomes greater. Also, God uses the testimony given at the beginning of each chapter to help prepare my own heart for worship.

Then you begin worshipping God for that day in Spirit and in Truth as you use the acronym PRAY to draw us even closer to the Lord.

P- is for Praise and Thanksgiving. A scripture is given which includes a name of God to acknowledge and Praise God for who He is and give Him Thanksgiving for what He has done and is doing in our own lives. It is written in Psalm 150:6 Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord. God wants us to give Him praise! The Word of God also tells us that …when He is lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Himself. John 12:32 Not only will the reader learn different names of God from each of the chapters that they may have never known before in acknowledging Him but they will be drawn closer to Him when they exalt Him, giving Him Praise.

R- is for Repentance. A scripture is given on which the reader can reflect asking God to search their hearts, and make known to them any sin or hidden faults. There is no one who does not sin. God will make known to us our sinfulness if we ask Him. We are told in 1 John 1:9-10 If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar and His word has no place in our lives. Anytime I am lifting up the name of God and see His holiness I am reminded and convicted of my unholiness. God has told us to …be holy because He is Holy. 1 Peter 1:16 And …without holiness no one will see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14

A-is for Asking. A scripture from the Word of God is provided for the reader to meditate and gain understanding of the scripture. They are asked to then rewrite and personalize the scripture for missionaries in the space provided. Then they are to pray the personalized scripture for the missionary with all of their heart. They can know that God will answer their prayer that they prayed in God’s will because it is written in 1 John 5:14-15 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us-whatever we ask-we know that we have what we asked of Him.

Y-is for Yielding. The reader is asked to rewrite the scripture they previously had written and prayed for the missionaries. They are asked to personalize and pray it now for themselves. As they pray this scripture for themselves it is a time to yield their own hearts before God. And it is to be done with an attitude of Christ which is found in Luke 22:42b …not my will, but yours be done. As we pray the scripture for ourselves we are assured from Isaiah 55:11 …so is My word that goes out from My mouth: It will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Wow! Because I believe this is true I continually mediate on the scripture and watch and wait to see how it will be accomplished in my life that very day! I am so excited and full of joy when I recognize God’s activity and know His presence in my life from praying specific scriptures each day for missionaries and myself. You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the LORD's renown, for an everlasting sign, which will not be destroyed. Isaiah 55:12-13 Amen!!

Then at the bottom of the page a name of a country is given with a star placed on the picture of a globe showing where exactly that country is located. This gives the reader the opportunity to pray for the work of God to be done in that country and become familiar with the actual location of that country. We are to ask God for the Nations. In Psalm 67 it is written …May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, Selah that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations. May the peoples praise You, O God; may all the peoples praise You. May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you rule the peoples justly and guide the nations of the earth. Selah May the peoples praise You, O God; may all the peoples praise You. Then the land will yield its harvest, and God, our God, will bless us. God will bless us, and all the ends of the earth will fear Him. Amen!


Phil ~ Each week has a different theme and each day's topic is laced with scripture - How could a prayer leader utilize the book as a guide for small or large group prayer meetings?

Mary Ann ~ Phil, there are many creative ways a small or large group could use the book to guide them in a time of worshiping the Lord. I will share one of the ways the acronym could be used as the pattern to engage others to pray focused fervent prayer for missionaries and themselves.

Specific topics could be chosen ahead of time from those provided in the book and the scriptures chosen from those given for the topics.

If you wanted you could have some of your own missionaries that are home on furlough be present during this prayer time.

It is always beneficial in the beginning to explain the prayer activity to the prayer group.

Begin the prayer time with worship music if it is available. Depending on the length of the prayer meeting will determine how many songs to be sung. Music is another way to participate in Praise to the Lord.

Praise can continue by using the names of God that have been given in the book. (You may want to contact the people to praise and give thanks to God days before the prayer meeting). Choose the names of God that relate to the topics of prayer. Have each person that has been chosen to prayerfully read the scripture of Praise and Thanksgiving and then acknowledge God using His specific name from the scripture and then give Him thanks according to the scripture.

Repentance- Scripture from the book can be prayerfully read and then give the group a time to silently repent of their sins. End this time of repentance with 1John 1:9.

Asking- According to the specific topics chosen you would use those scriptures to pray for missionaries as well as the prayer group. If you have missionaries present then it would be good to bring them to the front and have some of the people from your group pray for them. (It would be good to choose those people who would come forward to pray for the missionaries ahead of time with the selected scriptures)

If you have a large group prayer meeting then you could break people up into triplet (three in a group) or huddles (groups of four to eight) to use the scriptures to pray for one another.

End the prayer time by praying for the Nations- pull a scripture from your Bible ahead of time and have someone use it to pray for the Nations. Or you may want to pull scripture and specifically pray for the countries the missionaries are serving in.

There are also additional resources existing now and currently being developed that are referenced on page 432 at the end of the book with website information from the International Mission Board as well as from my ministry, praytheword.org. I am just an email away (ptw@praytheword.org) and have the sincere desire to assist the local church in anyway I can to enable their membership to fully embrace and experience the joy of intercessory prayer. I am also available to speak to groups, host prayer times, and share teaching materials I have written on praying the Word of God, developing a quiet-time, and a wide variety of topic-specific prayer guides relating to praying for the community, family, lost, nation, pastors, pastor’s wives, missionaries, and much more.


Phil ~ What features help the praying person or prayer group focus on missionaries?

Mary Ann ~ The book is divided into two major parts. Part One has five sections (with a total of 47 weeks of prayers) addressing the Messenger/Missionary. Part Two has five weeks of prayers focusing on the Harvest/Nations. At the beginning of each of the 52 sections is the personal testimony of a present-day missionary where real-life examples of their ministry are shared as well as used to develop a specific prayer theme or need for that week (including Peace, Faith, Holiness & Purity, Obedience, Accountability, and more). In addition to each week having a specific need focus and verses that apply to that need, the reader will also find at the bottom of each page the name of a country for which to prayer and a star on a picture of a globe including its location.

Also, at the end of the book, on page 432 entitled “To Help You Keep Praying” I have listed how to find additional resources, updates, missionary emails, and prayer guides that have been developed to assist the reader in making this prayer activity a continuing part of their life.

Phil ~ On Week 19, Day 5 you ask us to focus our prayers on "mission work in Hong Kong." How should some pray if they do not know the names or needs of a mission worker in that city or region?

Mary Ann ~ There are testimonies and a topic of prayer given at the beginning of each Chapter of the book. The topic of prayer for Week 19 is Relationships. After having read the testimony at the beginning of this chapter you gain a sensitivity and understanding to the some of the needs that missionaries are faced with concerning relationships. This guides your heart in taking the scripture that has been given to you on Day 5. You may not know personally any missionaries in Hong Kong. That is ok. There are missionaries in Hong Kong and God does know who they are and their names. Our privilege is that we have the opportunity to pray for all the missionaries and the work God is doing in that specific country.


Phil ~ How might this book be used by:

Mary Ann ~

• Families

I believe God has chosen all of us to be a witness to the light of Christ. Therefore, parents can use the book to teach their children about God and the Great Commission. They can use the book to teach them at an early age or any age how to pray the Word of God. They can learn how God is a God of the Whole world and the witness of our lives is larger than only what we may see. I believe strongly that when a family prays together it strengthens them as a family. They can also use the Yielding scripture to pray for each other and share how they were able to be a part of God’s activity. I also believe God may call their children to “Go”! He may even call the whole family to “Go”.

• Sunday classes or weekday studies

This book can be used in Sunday classes or weekday studies to enhance their relationship with God and have a greater understanding of the Great Commission. A Sunday School prayer leader or missions leader could use this book to engage the class in prayer for missionaries. In doing so God may call someone to be a missionary or serve missionaries home on furlough. Maybe become a personal intercessor for a missionary and they would use the book. Using this book can create an atmosphere of praying, going and or giving. The book might give someone a heart for the lost in their own city, community, state etc.

• Fellowship groups

Use this time to worship God together. Create or involve them in engaging in missional activity in their church.

• Church staff or leadership committees

Use it personally but also experience first hand the desire it creates to have corporate prayer to position the body of Christ to pray the promises of God for missionaries and the Body of Christ to pray for themselves. May encourage staff or leadership to the sensitivity to the call of missions in their own life and bring awareness or a greater awareness to their congregation. Begin missional activity that God raises up from the times of praying.

Phil ~ Mary Ann, please write a prayer that we can pray with you, asking the Lord for a passion to pray for missions, missionaries, and the ministry of the Church around the globe . . .

Mary Ann ~ Lord, I praise you in the Name of Jesus Christ, my Lord and my Savior. I am thankful that you came into my life that I have abundant life! You are Holy and You alone are Worthy to be praised. May I examine my ways and test them, may I return to You Lord. Lord, as I pray Oh, God I am reminded from your Word the Truth from 1 Corinthians 1:9 where you have called us into fellowship with Your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. And so Father I pray that you would create in the heart of the Church a deep, deep desire to fellowship with you taking the Sword of the Spirit and pray for missions, missionaries, and the ministry of the Church around the globe. I pray that the Church, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that they may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to You who is able to do immeasurably more than all I ask or imagine, according to Your power that is at work within us, to You be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:17-21

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