Congregation on Call
Prayer as Ministry
By Lynette Morgan
Prayer. Thousands of books have been written on the subject. But follow prayer with the word “ministry,” and you add another dimension. One definition of ministry is “the spiritual work or service of any Christian.” This article is about Christians giving themselves to the spiritual work of prayer for missions and evangelism.
Let me start by saying I did not seek this ministry. To be honest, I didn’t want it. I wanted to be on the field “working” for the Lord: doing, teaching, evangelizing, treating the sick—hands-on ministry. But in 2011, I became sick, and our ministry overseas came to a halt.
As months turned into years, we knew our return to the field was not to be. I became rather Job-like, asking God what in the world He was thinking to bring us back from the field. Missionaries were needed. We wanted to go. But, whether here or there, I had committed my life to serve Him, so after accepting this roadblock, I asked Him what ministry He had for me here, with my health limitations.
In 2018, I was invited into a discussion at IM concerning an upcoming project, and was asked to head up the needed prayer effort. This became an ongoing prayer ministry for IM, its missionaries, and ministries. Thus, Gideon’s Army was born. Clint kept me up to date regarding things happening on the different fields, and what God was doing around the world. As I began gathering daily requests and needs from each field and missionary, my love and burden for these countries and peoples grew. I felt called to each one. As I prayed and shared the needs with a group of praying people, my understanding of prayer as ministry evolved. In praying for someone in ministry, I join them in ministry.
S.D. Gordon explained it this way: Today a half hour is spent in China for its missionaries, its native Christians, its millions…Tomorrow’s bit of time is largely spent in India perhaps. And, so, this man with the narrow outer horizon and the broad inner horizon pushes his spirit-way around the world. The tide of prayer sweeps quietly, relentlessly day by day. This is the true Christian life. This man is winning souls and refreshing lives in these far-off lands and in nearby places as truly as though he were in each place. This is the Master’s plan. The true follower of Jesus has as broad a horizon as his Master. Jesus thought in continents and seas. His follower prays in continents and seas.
The Call to Pray
Having been raised in a missionary home and having served on the field, I knew the importance of prayer and people praying for us. At times I felt so needy, I wondered if anyone was praying. Now, living on the sending side, I want to fill that gap, to meet the need, to labor interceding through prayer.
Answering the call to pray requires as much obedience as answering the call to go. Missionaries cannot go and accomplish what they do without the faithful and fervent prayers of committed praying partners. Yet, praying for God’s work is not just limited to a few. Wesley Duwell stated: “God...planned for ordinary Christians like you and me to become mighty in prayer…for the reaping of God’s harvest among the nations today.”
Eight times, the Apostle Paul asked—rather told—churches to pray for him. He knew he needed their interceding to God. He also understood the young church needed to see intercession as their responsibility.
Jim Elliott said, “I have felt the impact of your prayer in these past weeks. I am certain now that nothing has had a more powerful influence on this life of mine than your prayers.”
Partnership With God
Philip Yancey, in his book Prayer, said Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German Lutheran pastor, imprisoned by Hitler, “grasped the nature of prayer as partnership with God’s activities on earth.”
As all-powerful as God is, for some reason, He has chosen to make His activity on earth contingent on us. Before Jesus left, He made it clear we, His followers, are to be His witnesses on the earth. He left it to us to build His Church. And for Him to move, we are to pray. We are to pray for His will to be done, for the laborers to go, for the gospel to be proclaimed boldly. Prayer as ministry is powerful, effective, and necessary.
In The Kneeling Christian, an unknown author implored, “Let us never forget that the greatest thing we can do for God or for man is to pray. For we can accomplish far more by our prayers than by our work. Prayer is omnipotent; it can do anything that God can do! When we pray, God works.”
Not an Easy Task
Praying is not easy. It takes personal time, energy, and determination. No other personal commitment has been as hard to carry out. I truly believe the enemy, who knows the power of prayer—maybe better than we do—and fears its results, tries every way he can to derail our prayer times.
I find Elizabeth Elliot’s statement greatly challenging: “One way of laying down our lives is by praying for somebody. In prayer I am saying, in effect, ‘my life for yours.’ My time, my energy, my thought, my concern, my concentration, my faith—here they are, for you. So
it is that I participate in the work of Christ.”
I believe Jesus’ command to go into all the world and preach the gospel is for each one of us. We may be called to literally go, yes. But we must always go through prayer.
According to S. D. Gordon, “Intercession is service…unlike all other forms of service and superior to them in this: it has fewer limitations. In all other service we are constantly limited by space, bodily strength, equipment, material obstacles, and difficulties involved with differences of personality. Prayer knows no such limits. It goes directly into men’s hearts, quietly passes through walls, and comes into most direct touch with the inner heart
Let’s valiantly attack the strongholds of spiritism in Africa, atheism in France, and Buddhism in Japan through conscientious prayer. Join me in holding up the arms of our missionaries—their ministries, their spiritual strength, their families and marriages. Let’s unleash God’s power by diligently praying for our missionaries, other overseas workers, pastors, church leaders, and church members in countries around the world.
About the Author: Lynette Miley Morgan spent decades serving in Côte d’Ivoire, Africa, both as a missionary kid and a missionary nurse. She and her husband Clint also served in Central Asia and France through IM, Inc. She has three sons, two daughters-in-law, a daughter, a son-in-law and eight grandchildren scattered around the U.S. and in Colombia, South America.