A movement saturated in prayer looks like a movement that takes ground from the enemy, seeing salvation and transformation.
I love stories about pioneering missionaries and evangelists, the stories of people bringing the gospel into a region for the very first time. It’s encouraging to see the boldness and obedience of these faithful men and women of God who are willing to count the cost of being a disciple, no matter how uncomfortable.
One such story I read (I can’t recall where) is about two Chinese women who were taking the gospel into unreached towns and villages in China. They went to a particular town to share the gospel, but because they were Christians nobody in the town was willing to offer a place to stay. They didn’t know where they were going to stay. One person shared with them that there was a cave outside of town, but none of the locals would go there because in the cave dwelt demons. The women thought, “That will do.” They went to the cave, cast out the demons with prayer and made that cave their home while they reached out to the town. That in itself was a powerful testimony to the town who became more open to hearing the gospel as a result.
This story tells me something about these women: they knew their authority in Christ, they were fearless, and prayer is a mighty weapon to defeat the works of the enemy.
When Paul went into unreached towns, he often first went to the synagogues to share through the scriptures the evidence of who Jesus was and what He came to accomplish. Obviously, some responded positively to the news and began to follow Christ too, while others were not so receptive and caused trouble for Paul and his coworkers. One such incident was in Thessalonica where jealous Jews formed a mob to cause a riot (Acts 17:5). They went to Jason’s house in search of Paul and Silas and, upon not finding them there, they dragged Jason and some of his brothers before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also, and Jason has received them, and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar saying that there is another king, Jesus.” (Acts 17:6-7)
Wow, can you imagine being accused of “turning the world upside down”? And as an Aussie, I don’t mean seeing Australia suddenly transformed to being at the top of the world map. 🙂 The NIV renders verse 6 as “these men who have caused trouble all over the world.” What disturbances were they making that had these people so up in arms?
- They went against the beliefs and culture of the Roman Empire, which was basically the known world, saying that Jesus is King, not Caesar (17:7).
- They cast out demons, such as in Acts 16 where the slave girl was delivered from a spirit of divination, which meant her owners would not benefit economically from her anymore. They accused them of “advocating customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice” (16:20-21).
- They went against the religious culture of the Jews, proclaiming that Jesus’ death and resurrection proved He was the Messiah the Jews were waiting for (17:3).
- They healed people, such as in Acts 14 when a man who was crippled from birth was healed. The crowds in Lystra thought they were Greek gods because of this. They disrupted the religion of the region by explaining who the one, true God is (14:14-17).
From the Bible, and history, we know that many did become followers of Christ in the early centuries after the first missionary efforts, and they established churches all over the known world. These churches were communities of believers who stood out from the surrounding culture by their transformed lives, living in love with God and with one another and in the face of great opposition. And of course, you and I stand here as workers in the Kingdom because of others’ witness over the centuries. While the stats say that there are currently over two billion Christians in the world, we know the task remains unfinished and that, in many nations, it’s such a challenge to publicly confess the name of Christ. The enemy still has a grip. But thanks be to God, we have the victory through Jesus Christ, our Lord (1 Corinthians 15:57).
As we consider the number of young people in our world who have yet to hear the good news of the gospel, in our own neighbourhoods as well as unreached people groups, my question to you is this: will you be like Paul, like the women in China, a disrupter of worldly culture, false religions and demonic realms? Will you be one who “turns the world upside down” in your area, bringing the news of the Kingdom of God and the one true King? Without a life of intimacy with God, knowing who you are and the authority you carry as His child, this will be an impossible task. As we give ourselves to prayer, both in secret and with other believers, we can expect to hear from our King, the Good Shepherd, as to the ways in which He wants us to take ground from the enemy and see the captives set free (Luke 4:18-19).
Thanks for taking the time to read this series over these past few months. Please share it with others on your team so that we can inspire others to pray and so we can indeed be a movement that is saturated in prayer.
International Prayer Director
Questions and ideas to consider:
- As you have read through this series, what has stood out to you or challenged you personally?
What have you put into practice as a result?
- Are there things that you have needed to get rid of or reprioritise?
- Have you come up with more ideas of how prayer can be mobilised in your area?
- Ask the Lord to give you one thing you can do in your area to increase the tide of prayer. Could that be taking up a prayer initiative like WakeUp Deborah, Operation Hannah/Daniel/Watchmen?
- Could it be gathering with other youth ministries in your area to pray for young people? Could it be starting a prayer room in your facilities? The ideas are endless and if you would like help with brainstorming or discovering what might work in your area, I’d love to work with you.
One thing we are going to do as an international movement to increase the tide of prayer is hold a month of 24/7 prayer in October. You’ll be hearing more about this in our next ePray so please stay tuned.