Last week here on the blog, we talked about stepping out in faith into whatever mission God has given us. If we are Jesus-followers, then we are called to be on mission with Him to make disciples.
Pray. Obey. Repeat.
Before Jesus’ feet left this sod and disappeared into the sky, He gave these last directives:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20, NIV84).
“Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16).
“…and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things” (Luke 24:47-48).
“Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (John 20:21).
The Book of Acts continues the narrative begun by Luke in his Gospel.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
So as we begin stepping out into His call, God has been reminding me of two things:
Pray for hearts.
First, before we begin to minister to people, we need to pray for the Holy Spirit to work in their hearts. All ministry is first and foremost, a work of prayer.
“Jesus answered, ‘No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day'” (John 6:44).
“I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone–for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:1-4).
Our flesh naturally rebels against the things of God, so unless the Spirit draws us to Him, we will have no desire for Him. God’s desire is for all to be saved, and He calls us to pray for those He calls us to reach.
To whom is the Holy Spirit leading you to minister? A family member, friend, or an entire community? Then pray fervently that God will work in their hearts, open their eyes to His truth, convict them of sin, draw them to His heart, and show them His love.
Don’t underestimate the power of prayer!
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8).
“The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16b).
When we pray for God to change people’s hearts, we are praying His will and His Word. That’s a win-win!
Pray for guidance.
Second, we need to pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance in all that we do.
“But when he, the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13).
Once I’ve heard from God, I tend to jump out and keep going, often without stopping to seek Him for each step in the process. Even though my heart may be right, I run right ahead of God with my plans.
“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21).
“It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way” (Proverbs 19:2).
What we need is praying and obeying–not one without the other. If I pray, but never do anything, I am ineffective for the cause of Christ. If I obey, but then fail to continue to pray over each step, I will lose my way and miss His perfect plan.
I believe the Lord is raising up men and women right now who are hungry for the things of God. I see the passion being fueled to do kingdom work, and it is a beautiful thing!
But let’s not forget, the early disciples “joined together constantly in prayer” (Acts 1:14). They prayed, “enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness (4:29). They worshiped, fasted, prayed, and the Holy Spirit would lead them (13:2). Then they would fast and pray and lay hands on those who were sent (13:3, 14:23).
In all that they did, they consulted God.
“It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us…” (15:28).
They were praying and moving in the Spirit, filled with zeal and knowledge of how the Holy Spirit wanted to lead them. Signs and wonders were done among them, and thousands were saved in their midst (Acts 2:41, 2:47, 4:4, 6:7, 9:31).
Stay in Step.
So as we step out into ministry in these last days–whether to share Jesus with a friend or reach a whole community– let’s be sure to stay in step with the Spirit by praying for those to whom we are ministering and praying for His direction.
“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25).
Let’s be on mission with God, full of zeal for His glory, but also with a humble attitude of prayer.
Pray. Obey. Repeat.