International Ministries

When Prayer … Isn’t

May 6, 2016 Journal
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I am a “get it done" gal, a roll-up-my-sleeves-and-get-to-work kind of person. Nothing wrong with that, right? The problem is that sometimes I’m tempted to make my plans and then ask God to bless them. Prayer is meant to be a two-way conversation with God, but that kind of one-way prayer isn’t prayer – it’s basically just asking for God’s rubber stamp of approval. When we talk to God in prayer about our well-laid plans, our goal in the conversation is to discern which way the wind of the Spirit is blowing and then run in that direction … even if it isn’t the direction we had in mind!

This is one of the reflections I shared last month with those gathered at the Prairie Pastors’ Conference in Nebraska. Pastors and leaders from the Dakotas, Iowa, Minnesota, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska came to reflect on the theme “It’s a New Day in the Neighborhood,” and I was invited to be the keynote speaker. My focus was on how to mobilise God’s people for God’s mission in the world, in other words how to transition a church from being inward looking to outward serving. Since that transition begins with the pastor, in one of my sessions I presented the marks of a transformational leader. Guess where the mark of prayer was – yep, at the top of the list!

Both before and after the conference, my schedule was chock full of preaching, teaching, and leading trainings. I spoke to groups 19 times in 17 days. It was a busy but rewarding time of encouraging folks to participate in God’s mission “here, there, and over there.”

I was inspired by some of the creative ways church families in Nebraska are ministering hope to people in their communities. One highlight was the Diaper Depot. Young moms and dads struggling to make ends meet are invited to the church once a month pick up a bag of diapers for their baby. They can also get help with job interview skills, pick out an interview outfit at the church clothes closet, and have someone pray for them if they would like. Another highlight was learning about the Chivalry Banquet for sons and their moms: the boys learn basic courtesy and how to behave in a formal setting – and they get try their hand at jousting and swordplay, all in one evening!

Now that I’m back at home in New Zealand, Bruce and I are preparing for upcoming trips to two countries in Southeast Asia. Pray with us that God would direct us as we teach a course in Social Entrepreneurship, and use us to encourage local pastors who serve in very challenging situations.

(“By God’s grace” in Vietnamese).

Praise and Prayers

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