Prayer is a big part of our ministry—at least that’s what our people think. They come to us and say, “Would you pray for me? Could you please pray about my finals, my work, my friend, my kids, etc.?”
If we are not careful, our prayers can take on a professional polish that lacks substance. If we let it happen, our prayers can become little more than a professional duty. What’s more, our prayers can become so intertwined with our performance as pastors or elders that our prayers have nothing more going for them than the desire to make us look good, appear better, and simulate success.
So, what needs to go into our prayer ministry for others? Let’s take a look at Jesus’ prayer: “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as we are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me” (John 17:20-23).
Can you see what Jesus is praying for in these verses? The praxis of His ministry is shaped by the content of His prayer. He is praying for mission. For conversions. For a growing number of dying people coming to life in the community of Christ. Jesus prayed:
1. For people to come into the community of believers.
2. For people to enter into a relationship with heaven.
3. For the world to come to believe through those who already believe.
4. That His glory would shine upon the ministry of those who already believe.
5. For people to experience the love of God for them.
Jesus prays as One sent—sent on a mission. And He prays for those who will put their faith in Him to become men and women who are sent as well. Missional prayer filled Jesus’ heart with joy.
Let me ask you: Is your ministry becoming more and more difficult, more and more burdensome? If so, I invite you into a life of missional prayer. When you pray as one who is sent, God will hear your prayers. He will be reminded that you are one who has been sent, that you are pressing hard into the mission, and that you are depending upon Him to pour out His Spirit on those for whom you are praying. Missional prayer will save your ministry, and it will open the doors for more and more people to experience the saving hug of Christ.
Pablo Gaiton is the associate pastor for youth and young adults at the Forest City Church in Orlando, Florida, USA.