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FIRST-PERSON: Who’s praying for you?

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (BP) — While I was leading a Bible study on spiritual warfare, one woman spoke up and said, “I don’t have to worry about spiritual warfare. I don’t witness, so Satan leaves me alone.”

What blessings this lady was missing in seeing others have a personal relationship with Jesus. To their credit, those who were in the Bible study stifled their shock.

For the past 15 years, a dozen prayer warriors have committed to pray for me at least once every week. Some are in my immediate family; a few are work colleagues; and a couple of them are prayer leaders I have known over the years. And, yes, they pray every week for my family because I send out an email the first day of each month asking them to pray for Mary Leigh, my wife, and me. I’m detailed and specific. Sometimes I give the exact date prayer cover is needed. They are partners in God’s mission in my life.

Ask any missionary what they need most and usually they will say, “Prayer!” Southern Baptist missionaries are always grateful that the giving from our churches provides their financial support through the SBC’s Cooperative Program and missions offerings. The missionaries don’t have to raise money, but they still have to do “friend-raising” for volunteers to augment their work on the field and especially to provide prayer cover for them.

What did the early church do when facing persecution? They prayed! And they prayed not for delivery or to have it easier, but specifically for boldness and then acted in obedience: “And now, Lord, consider their threats, and grant that Your slaves may speak Your message with complete boldness, while You stretch out Your hand for healing, signs, and wonders to be performed through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus” (HCSB). When they had prayed, the place where they were assembled was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak God’s message with boldness (Acts 4:29-31).

The apostle Paul solicited prayer support on a regular basis, such as in Ephesians 6:20. Paul knew that prayer was essential to his ministry because of spiritual warfare. When he wrote to the church at Ephesus, he reminded them that our battle is not one of flesh and blood, but against Satan and his demons. We need to stand firm in facing those attacks, wearing God’s spiritual armor (Ephesians 6:10-17). Paul knew that soldiers of the Roman Empire wore nothing on their backs: If they turned to run, they would be more vulnerable than facing the enemy head-on.

When we have all that armor on, what do we do? Paul advised that we are to pray for boldness (Ephesians 6:18-20).

A prayer leader at the IMB once said, “Prayer doesn’t get you ready for missions. Prayer IS missions.” Prayer doesn’t force God to do anything and prayer is not a Santa wish list. It is a supernatural way of connecting with God and aligning with His will and purposes.

Involving others — even a dozen people or more — in what God has called you to do blesses you and them too. How do you mobilize effective prayer? Here are two ideas:

1. Paint a word picture by telling your story. When we say, “Pray for the XX number of Navajo who are lost,” that’s rather generic. It’s another thing to say, “Pray for my wife and I working with Sally. Sally is 14 and being pressured into sex trafficking. Pray that she will hear the Good News of Jesus.” It’s specific, urgent and yet warm.

2. Don’t forget that sharing answers to specific prayer requests encourages more praying as the focus increasingly brings glory God. It’s not bragging, but allowing prayer warriors to celebrate with you.

The lady who was scared of Satan focused too much in the wrong direction. Boldly recruit prayer supporters who will engage in spiritual warfare alongside you. They’ll help you stay focused on Jesus and Him alone.

    About the Author

  • Mark Snowden