After full-time language and culture study, my wife and I were placed in our first church planting situation in Japan. We were with senior missionaries who prayed. My goodness they prayed!
About half of our weekly team meetings were prayer. The church prayed too. There were two prayer meetings a week, one on Friday the other on Saturday. On one weekend of every month the Friday prayer meeting was cancelled and we prayed instead most of the day on the Saturday. Then twice a year both weekly prayer meetings were cancelled and we had three full days of prayer (and fasting, if you wanted).
I have never prayed more—before or since that time. And do you know what? God caused the church we were planting to grow. Actually, it grew amazingly. People became Christians and were baptized. Christians grew significantly and dealt with the ‘baggage’ from before they became Christians.
I know our senior colleagues prayed much on their own too. And they encouraged others to come before God’s throne of grace frequently. Like all missionaries they sent prayer letters, but they also started something called ‘1% Prayer’. The church plant leader asked people in his home country to commit to interceding for the church plant for 1% of every day. That’s around 15 minutes a day. He wanted many people to plead to God for the church plant for 15 minutes of every day; and to help, he sent them a weekly email of prayer requests.
It was hard being on a team with people like that. I’m sure they did not intend for us to feel guilty at our prayerlessness, but we did. We just could not match them and rather than being inspired, we often thought how useless we were. But that was our problem not theirs.
But it was also wonderful being on a team with people like that. Yes they prayed, but they did not just pray. They had lots of energy and worked hard too. They had good Japanese language and cultural understanding. So we learnt many, many things from them.
Remembering that time, those four-and-a-half years, I am constantly challenged to pray. I did it then, I could do it again.
We saw the truth of what Andrew Murray says—“We understand then that our true aim must not be to work much and have prayer enough to keep the work right, but to pray much and then to work enough for the power and blessing obtained in prayer to find its way through us to men.”1 This is what our senior missionaries did.
I think most of us tend to pray ‘enough to keep the work right’ rather than ‘work enough for the power and blessing obtained in prayer to find its way through us’.
Please pray for us and with us, that all of us in OMF Japan would learn this way of praying to the Lord, and then working in his power and blessing.
A fellow diminutive intercessor…
Quote from: Andrew Murray With Christ in the School of Prayer Lesson 31 page 252 accessed at https://ccel.org/ccel/murray/prayer/prayer.XXXI.html