A Prayer Paradigm Shift

Imagine, if you will, a paradigm shift in the motivation of our daily prayers. What would happen if we went from a prayer focus of “Lord, bless my day as I walk in your spirit. Provide my financial needs. Bless the health and wellness of my family, and please allow my supervisor to see how hard I am working so that I get a raise this year.” To, “Lord, help me to be spirit-led, spirit-filled, and teachable as you lead me to the people you have called me to reach today. Who can I be a blessing to? Who needs to see the love of Jesus? Teach me to reflect your character as I strive to be an effective witness in the mission-field you have placed me.” 


As I hope you can see, It’s not about the length of our prayers, but rather the motivation that matters. Personal blessings are great, but do you have a burden to advance the Kingdom of God? Do you have a love for unreached people groups? Do you want to be an effective witness in your mission field today? This focus not only opens the door of opportunity to be an effective witness, but it has the ability to change your entire outlook of your mission field, how you respond, and the overall magnitude of the opportunities before you. Now, imagine with me, again, as you place on the imaginative glasses of an English Language teacher. As I peer into those chocolate-brown eyes of the Afghan boy in my classroom, the discomfort of his temporary sickness gets the best of him and he begins to cry, “I don’t feel good.” “Do you need a hug?” I say to him as I open my arms out wide. He nods his head, rushes toward me, and continues to cry as he enters my warm embrace. All I can think to do at this moment is whisper the words, “In Jesus Name.” And in that moment, a seed was planted. A seed of prayer over a young child. A seed of prayer over a representative of an entire nation, filled with unreached people groups! Though it was but a moment quickly fleeting, I am reminded of this encounter often. “Your hands are on Afghanistan.” 


These words resonate in my heart and mind as I think about how in that moment, my hands were upon a physical representation of a country I cannot access, but even greater than that, the Lord’s hand is at work in every country, in spite of our physical inability to access them. This opportunity I have to whisper the all-powerful name of Jesus over children from a variety of nations, tribes, and tongues is one that I do not take lightly. From the heart of a teacher, please, hear me when I say this… Children must know the love of Jesus! And how will they know unless we show them? We have a job to do, and that job is here, where your feet are standing; just as much as it is there, where your feet will someday be going.


The Dual Nature of Burden


Now, let’s talk about burden. If you’ve made it this far, I believe that there is a part of your heart which is beating for “Missions.” Maybe it beats for the field you are in… your school, your workplace, or even your family. Or, maybe, just maybe… Like me, your heart beats for places you cannot yet access in any other way besides prayer. So, let’s take a little study trip into the meaning of burden. 


What is a burden by world standards? A burden may be considered as an oppressive weight, or a heavy load. But what is a burden by God’s standards? A burden is an obligation of Christ, purposed to contrast the ideas taught by the Pharisees that burdens were meant to be carried in oppression. 

Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT)

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”


So in reality, there are two types of burden. The burdens of the world which attempt to overwhelm, exhaust, and oppress us. OR, the obligations of Christ, which, when partnered with Him, are easy and light. One of the greatest influences in my life once said, “Burdens should be easy if you are partnered with God. Because, the formula of a burden is as follows… Partner with God. Learn what breaks His heart. Pray. Lay it down at His feet, and Trust Him to handle it.” The obligations of Christ are not meant to weigh you down, but rather, to teach you how to trust in Him. 


But how do you convey your Spirit-driven burden to others? How do you describe the obligation to love people you have never met, which you so passionately carry within the depths of your heart? How do you convey the conception, birth, and upbringing of an instinctive love that has somehow always been a part of you? This obligation inside of you, it stirs the very core of your being. It is always developing, always speaking, and always beating in your heart, soul, and mind. It’s not only a love for people you do not yet know, but It’s the weight of their story, the journey they are on, and the places they are destined to go. The obligations of Christ will always lead you back to loving people!  


So how do you convey this obligation? You SHOW it! You partner with Jesus, learn what it means to love like Him, and show the world! But what does this have to do with the Mission Field? And why is it necessary to shift the motivations of my prayers? I am so glad you asked! Because, where there is obligation, there is commission. 


A Commission of Compassion 

John 13:34-35 (NLT)

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

Matthew 28:19-20 (NLT)

Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Our obligation is to love people, and our commission is to do it wherever we are. There is a hungry and hopeless world out there, and they NEED to know the love of Jesus through you and me. But how will they know when our motivations are focused on ourselves, our prayers prayed for the benefit of us, and our goals set to reach anyone but our neighbor next to us? 

There is an entire world to reach, and the Mission Field is anywhere you and Jesus are.