Donít just pray about, Pray For
Some of my friends say this is only a silly word game I am playing, but I wish to challenge you not to pray about going to Uganda but to pray for God to take you to Uganda. So many say "I will pray about itĒ which is usually followed by a prayer like this. "Lord, if you really want me to go, have the Ugandan ambassador to the Untied States call me on the phone and personally invite me.Ē You know I am exaggerating here, but not much. When you pray "for," the attitude becomes, "Lord, I am ready to go to Uganda to serve you. Please open the doors necessary and provide all I need. If it is not your will, close this door." To close this door does not take a call from the Ugandan ambassador. The everyday providence of God will be clear.
Godís providence surrounds and guides us every day. We continually have opportunities open and close and we respond accordingly, almost without stopping to understand Godís hand is always upon us.
The story of Gideon and his fleece in Judges 6 clearly shows Godís power to provide signs. But it also shows a weakness of faith on the part of Gideon to ask of God for such a sign.
(Note: for a good article on this perspective, please read "Don't Complicate the Missionary call")
Kingdom Focused Prayers
Another aspect of prayer we need to consider is what is the focus of our prayers.
A great deal of the prayer life of the typical believer is spent in prayer that is intensely focused on self. "God bless me, my family, my health, my bank account, my happiness and my pleasure." Certainly God can and does bless us in all these areas and more, but when this is the exclusive focus of our prayers, it reflects that we have lost sight of some very valuable targets of prayer.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ taught His disciples to pray "Your kingdom Come," and to "seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" (Matthew 6:10 & 33)
These are the targets that are often missed today, His kingdom and His righteousness. This is kingdom focused prayer. Its end in not my success and happiness, but the building of God's kingdom and the power of His righteousness in the lives of His children. Jesus said that such prayer, such seeking, would produce a wonderful byproduct in God's adding to us "all these things." But many have lost sight of this God given hierarchy. We have changed the priority and ask God for things while ignoring the work of His kingdom and righteousness or telling ourselves we will do that later.
Those of us in the western world, the benefactors of western (Christian) civilization, have become a generation that has everything, but enjoys nothing. We marvel that the kingdom of God has little or no influence in our culture. Effective prayer is KINGDOM FOCUSED PRAYER and sadly there is very little effective prayer these days. We have also lost sight of the fact that we are at war, that our greatest weapon is prayer, and that while we may not technically be AWOL, we have left our primary weapon at home.
We must change this and you can start by seeking those who will not spend their prayer hours while you are in Uganda praying that you will sleep well, and be safe, and have fun, and not get sick, etc. Instead, recruit those who will pray that the lost will be converted, the powers of darkness will be overcome by the light, that hard hearts will be broken, that believers would be faithful unto death, that God will pour you out whenever, wherever, and however He pleases for His own glory. When God answers this type prayer, you will find you are not concerned with whether you are safe or sleep soundly, or have fun. You will understand this is God's trip and not yours and how He manages it will be just fine with you.
Paul said it this way I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:12-13
There is a story about a businessman in a small community who changed the whole character of a section of town by opening a tavern. A local church group became concerned and conducted an all-night prayer vigil, asking God to close the tavern. Shortly before morning, a thunder storm came through the area and a lightning bolt struck the tavern and it burned to the ground.
The owner of the tavern sued the church, claiming that the prayers of the group were responsible for the destruction of his tavern. The church hired a defense attorney to argue in court that they were not responsible.
The presiding judge, after an initial review of the case, stated that "No matter how this case comes out, one thing is clear. The tavern owner believes in prayer and the church group does not."