In the weeks leading up to our mission trip to Ecuador, we would get emails with details of things we needed to do. The real excitement came when one email had a video attachment with more than 20 minutes of information – what we needed to bring, what to expect, and my favorite: what we would be doing! Months of planning and dreaming about how this trip would go, and I was about to hear exactly how we would be spending those precious 2 weeks!
I got comfortable and got my people and the three of us watched it together.
Now, keep in mind this is my first out-of-the-country mission trip. What I typically assume a mission trip to be: build a church and spend days with beautiful kids at an orphanage.
While we watched the video, I hear “gather to pray,” “prayer adventure,”” 4 a.m. prayer” (that’s right, A.M., baby)… And I should be too embarrassed to tell you this, but I often share more than I should, so here is what I said after watching the video –
“I hope we do more than just pray. That sounds lame.”
Boy, did I have some stuff to learn.
In fairness to myself, I have to tell you I don’t think prayer is lame. I happen to love talking to Jesus. I just thought prayer sounded like something I could do from my couch in my comfy PJs rather than travel to another continent.
Turns out… prayer was more meaningful to me during this trip than anything else could have been and I am so grateful.
Prayer is a big deal. There was a serious focus on prayer during this trip because it is the absolute most important thing we can ever do. Ever.
We prayed at a small shop owned by a lady of the church in Ibarra, for her business and her family.
We prayed for “Houses of Prayer,” home Bible studies led by young missionaries dedicating more than 2 years of their lives at a time to help get the churches going.
We prayed for the cities we were in, stopping at parks, schools, markets, and malls to pray in specific ways for the people living there.
We prayed in such detailed ways for the church – ways I would have never thought to do on my own. Praying for the people, the electricity, the sound and computer equipment, the building, the neighbors, the salvation of the landlord, the influence of the church sign (a prayer that was answered even as we were praying), a television screen the church needs … you name it, we prayed it. Beautiful. (For those of you who go to Huntington First Church with me – I’m super excited to say we are going to try this out at our church next Saturday, Aug. 23!!!)
We had a prayer meeting for 2 hours, beginning at 4 a.m.! We shared and prayed for each other in very specific ways. Definitely worth the early wake-up.
We prayed for a man at the park, who asked us to pray for his mind and his thoughts.
We prayed for healing for our friends.
While praying from my couch would have gotten through to God, and it would have been good, there is something to be said for being in the presence of what you are praying for, and inviting the presence of God to join you there. Touching the wall of the school, sitting on the doormat of the church, sitting in the grass of the park, sharing a Coke with a store-owner as you pray for her shop – those are things that put passion in my prayers. I meant what I prayed, and believe that God will answer.
In Mark Batterson’s book, The Circle Maker, he said, “…I’ve come to the conviction that one prayer can accomplish more than a thousand plans.”
Our speakers during our trip kept reinforcing that prayer is ministry. Prayer isn’t what you do simply because you are supposed to, or because there is nothing else you can do. It’s the most important thing.
We could have met and discussed ways to come up with money for a television for the church, or planned fundraisers, but instead we spoke to the One who owns everything already and told Him every need.
Prayer is the best. Knowing that the God of the universe wants to hear from me… Wow.
Pray. Go to God like you mean it. Give Him thanks and praise, and tell Him every concern, need, fear, desire…everything. He wants to hear it. And what a privilege.
Thank you, Father, for listening and answering.
“Pray continually…” I Thessalonians 5:17
“Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.” I Chronicles 16:11
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.” I John 5:14