By Shannon Youell
Missional Prayer is intercession arising from the fact that God’s Kingdom has not yet come fully in this world and his will is not yet fully done. As Kingdom people this should bother us. But do we pray as though we are bothered? Missional Prayer, Urbana
The disciples of Jesus, noting that Jesus prayed…a lot…and that things seemed to happen when He prayed, asked Him to teach them how to pray. As far as we can tell, most of these guys were raised with the Torah and understood prayers: morning and evening prayers, prayers of repentance, prayers of mourning and supplication, prayers of thanksgiving and joy. Yet, they wanted to see God act in response to their prayers the way that Jesus’ prayers were answered. They saw Jesus pray and Kingdom happened!
Jesus then instructs them to pray for this: “Our Father….Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven…” He prayed for God’s Kingdom to break into the places on earth where darkness and evil continued to oppress and break humanity’s spirit, where humans are drowning in judgement, rejection, marginalization and their own broken places.
And yes, just as the quoted blogger states, it should bother us that those places and people are all around us: work with us, shop with us, live with us, are us.
The question I’m forced to ask myself is if I am indeed bothered when I am aware of the struggles in my community, neighborhood, city, nation, and world. Most of us, being asked that, would say, “of course!” But the deeper question is how much does it bother us? Am I, are we, bothered enough to compel us to pray? To pray continually? To pray until we see God’s acting on behalf of and in response to those prayers? As the prophet Isaiah writes, “Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait (hope) for him” (Isaiah 64:4).
From the perspective of sharing Jesus, am I bothered enough that most of the people around me in my everyday life do not experience the life-giving grace, forgiveness, justice, mercy, hope and love of Our Father who is in heaven? Enough to pray for them everyday? Enough to allow those prayers to change me and give me Spirit boldness to invite them to consider Jesus and his redemptive restoration into their lives and circumstances?
Sadly, I’m not always quite that bothered, and perhaps not even often enough. And, indeed, that is reflected in how I pray or not.
This past May I was inspired by an international movement to pray Luke 10:02. Luke 10:2 instructs, by Jesus words, to pray, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
The movement has us setting an alarm on our watches or phones for everyday at 10:02 a.m. And then to simply pray what Jesus said to pray for. Easy…right?
So we at CBWC Church Planting created a little magnet to affix to your fridge, or car, or filing cabinet to also remind you. And of course, we set our phone alarms. Everyday when the alarm went off, I would pray for a few minutes. It was exhilarating! Though I did find that the little alarm (which I programmed to have its own ring tone) went off at completely inconvenient times, like in line at the bank, or in a meeting and so I’d just hit “stop,” thinking I’d come back to it, which rarely occurred. So I talked to God about that because I really did want to take those moments everyday, joining with others, to pray for God to send workers to those who don’t yet know the presence of Jesus and the Kingdom in their lives.
Here’s where I should make a slight clarification, just in case you didn’t realize this….Jesus is sneaky in Luke 10:2. He’s getting us to pray for ourselves! To pray that we will be the workers in the harvest, that we would be the ones bothered enough to pray, to engage, to invite, to share, to live among.
During my hit and miss time of praying the Luke 10:02 prayer, I have found that as I prayed for God’s Kingdom to come into the lives and circumstances of folk around me, God has been doing some deep work in my heart. I feel, well, bothered. Bothered that there is so much pain in people’s own histories; bothered that inequity is rampant in a wealthy nation that has access to God’s provision for the whole world; bothered that humanity polarizes and shifts values and allegiances based on fear and scarcity in their own hearts. And bothered that I have not been bothered enough in my life about folk and situations that don’t in some way affect or trespass on my life.
In that bothered-ness, I have found myself weeping for others, even strangers as the Holy Spirit has made me more attentive and aware of people I barely have interaction with. Just so you know, I do not like weeping. It makes me feel weak and vulnerable, but the result is I am growing in compassion. It’s a by-product of the Luke 10:2 prayer.
It’s a dangerous prayer to pray for, because we get bothered. Jesus called us to love strangers, enemies, the unlovable in our eyes. No wonder. When we pray for them we begin to feel compassion towards them, empathy for them. We begin to see our own brokenness in theirs, or perhaps, acknowledge for the first time that we too, are broken, damaged, hurting people in need of the continual healing grace and mercy of Our Father. Of seeing God’s Kingdom realized in our own spheres of earth as it is in heaven.
Perhaps the 10:02 prayer will inspire people to become missionaries at home and abroad, but I wonder if Jesus’ plan all along was to make us bothered. What do you think? Are you feeling a little bothered right now?