MAY 21

Sent Out in Prayer

Bible Reading: Acts 13:1-3

I came across this Daily Wire headline this morning: “Why are so many Christians leaving the faith?”  The article went on to explain: “It cannot be denied that, in unprecedented numbers, Christians are leaving the faith.  From well-known pastors and worship leaders, to Bible college professors and Christian rockers, we are experiencing a wave of apostasy.”  What are we to make of this distressing reality?  And how are we, as believers in Christ, to respond?  The distressing news we hear every day regarding things happening in our country, needs to be viewed through the reality of this apostasy and the corresponding decline of the influence of the church (and the truth it proclaims) on society.

As I’ve previously noted, there was a pattern behind what happened in the growth and expansion of the early church: 1) The Holy Spirit was working; 2) the people were praying; and 3) the church was flourishing.  These things were happening simultaneously, as they have in repeated times and places through the history of the church in times of revival.  Of course, the opposite holds true as well.  Sadly, it is in the absence of devotion to prayer (and to the Word) that the church’s health and influence on the world around us declines.

We read in Acts 13:1-3 of another example of how the early church was devoted to prayer.  God had worked to establish and prosper the church in Antioch, so it was prepared and equipped to send out missionaries.  “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said: ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work I have called them’” (Acts 13:2).  “After fasting and praying, they laid hands on them and sent them off” (Acts 13:3).  After half a year or so, on that first missionary journey, they returned to Antioch and “declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles” (Acts 14:27).  Prayer was at the heart of their successful mission.

I’ve been incredibly blessed to be a part of the missionary outreach of Hope and Mercy Mission to our dear friends in Uganda.  God has done an incredible work there!  Of course, prayer has played a vital role.  It has been as A. T. Pierson once said, ““Every step in the progress of missions is directly traceable to prayer. It has been the preparation for every new triumph and the secret for all success.”  That work in Uganda began many years ago with a prayer, when the now African Director of the mission, Paul Mwesigwa, visited his home village.  He was deeply concerned about all the orphaned children, who were left alone as a result of the Aids epidemic. He and his wife prayed, “Lord, what’s to be done for all these children?”  God led him to start a school, which then quickly overflowed with students.  Later a group from Boothbay, Maine had the opportunity to assist with the work and helped to build a school and other structures.  Then my uncle, Pastor Bob Emrich, was invited to visit the region and met with some pastors.  He was also burdened for these dear folks.  They lacked Bible training and Bibles and were struggling to lead their churches.  He’s since made seventeen trips.  I’ve accompanied him on nine of those.  On one of those trips, Pastor Bob led me to a spot, not far from the guest house, which overlooked the distant hills and valleys.  He shared how he’d gone there in the mornings to pray that God would work to extend the ministry to pastors beyond those hills.  God answered his prayers (and the many prayers of others), as the mission has since helped to establish seven Pastor Alliances serving nearly three hundred churches.  Five years ago, God worked to establish a Bible training school for pastors. Faith Bible School has since graduated about fifty pastors, who have all been trained and equipped by well-qualified teachers to lead their congregations.  God has worked in miraculous fashion through Hope and Mercy Mission to bring hope and lift up the entire region of Uganda!  I’ve not the space here to share all the wonderful things I’ve seen God do!

But make note of this, prayer has ungirded and supported every aspect of the work from that first prayer of Paul Mwesigwa, until this day.  Every mission trip was preceded and accompanied by the prayers of hundreds of folks in churches across America.  There are likewise lots of people who pray every day for the various aspects of that ministry and the people there.  Those folks on the other side of the world are praying too, as they do, with great faith and fervor.  I once met a pastor at one of the conferences we led, who was thanking us for the work of the mission.  He was explaining to Pastor Bob and me how he and his fellow pastor friends had been praying for years for God to help them somehow, for they knew they needed Bible training and assistance.  With much enthusiasm he went on to explain how God had answered their prayers when He sent us from far away and over the mountains to come to them!

If you are a believer in Christ, then you are a missionary.  You’ve friends and family, or neighbors or coworkers, or classmates who need Jesus.  They need to see the truth of the gospel lived out in your life and to hear the words of that same glorious gospel from your lips.  But, as we have seen, none of that can happen apart from devotion to prayer.  Devotion to prayer may not be in vogue in many churches today, but it has always been and will always be in vogue with God, and those churches that are growing and expanding in their outreach.  

D. L. Moody, “Behind every work of God you will always find some kneeling form.”

SEND THE LIGHT

There’s a call comes ringing o’er the restless wave, “Send the light! Send the light”
There are souls to rescue, there are souls to save,
Send the light!
Send the light!

Chorus:
Send the light, the blessed gospel light;
Let it shine from shore to shore!
Send the light the blessed gospel light;
Let it shine forevermore!

We have heard the Macedonian call today,”Send the light! Send the light!”
And a golden off’ring at the cross we lay,
Send the light!
Send the light! [Chorus]

Let us pray that grace may ev’rywhere abound, “Send the light! Send the light!”
And a Christ-like spirit ev’rywhere be found,
Send the light!
Send the light! [Chorus]

Let us not grow weary in the work of love, “Send the light! Send the light!”
Let us gather jewels for a crown above,
Send the light!
Send the light! [Chorus]

Author: looking2jesus13

Having served as pastor at Lewis and Clark Bible Church, in Astoria, Oregon, for almost three decades, my wife’s cancer diagnosis led to my retirement and subsequent move to Heppner to be near our two grandchildren. I divide my time between caring for Laura and working as a part time hospice chaplain and spending time with family and spoiling my chocolate lab.

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