The number one cause of car accidents in the US is distractions. We eat, text, and daydream all while driving and by giving attention to these distractions, we put ourselves and others around us in danger. The reality is that distractions don’t just keep us from driving safely; they distract us from our prayer life. Specifically, distractions keep us from praying about the mission of God. We become so consumed with what is in front of us, we get distracted from what God is doing all around us to fulfill His mission. But what is God’s mission and how is it fulfilled through prayer? 1 Timothy 2:1-4 sheds a little light on this question:
“I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people… This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
From this verse we see that God desires for all people to come to saving faith and knowledge of Him. Because God desires this, we should desire it. Our prayers should reflect God’s passions. And when we pray, we should fight against the distractions that pull us away from God’s mission and pray passionately for others to be saved. So how do we do this?
First, we pray for kingdom expansion. When you find something you love, you are moved to share it with others. It may be a show that you have been watching, a book that you cannot put down, or a new recipe that others have got to try. We love being part of a movement. And we love playing our part to further that movement along by sharing it with others. In John 17:20-21, known as Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer, Jesus prays: “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word… so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” Here, Jesus is starting a movement through prayer. He prays that by the words and prayers of his followers, others may come to a saving knowledge of him. Think about it. All future believers are factored into this prayer by Jesus! Your faith. My faith. The faith of future believers in Europe, Asia, and all around the world. When we pray for kingdom expansion, we partner with Jesus in the movement that he inaugurated over 2,000 years ago.
Secondly, we pray for our four. In His kindness, God has placed many people in our spheres of influence who do not have a personal relationship with God. However, we are so prone to being distracted, we hardly view these people as anything more than a new neighbor or a childhood friend. But they are more than that. Not only are they made in the image of God, they are outsiders to the kingdom of God. Colossians 4:5 says, “Walk in wisdom towards outsiders, making the best use of the time.” God has placed these “outsiders” in our lives so that we can partner with God in his mission to reach them. Are there four people who come to mind who are far from God? Let those four individuals be your four to reach with the gospel. Instead of being distracted from reaching your four, begin praying for them. Pray for their salvation. Ask God for ways you can bless them. Need ideas for how to reach them? Scan this code to get a little help! (include QR code)
Finally, we pray for missionaries and church planters. In Matthew 9:38, Jesus commands us to pray for those who take the gospel where it is less common: “Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Instead of simply admiring their courage, we should be praying for them and for more like them to arise.
Here are some tools that can help shape our distracted hearts into mission-focused ones.
- IMB Prayer App – list of peoples and places around the world to pray for.
- Unreached of the Day app by Joshua Project – highlights an unreached people group to pray for daily.
- Providence’s missionary prayer guide – contains information and prayer points about Providence’s missionary partners. (include link)
In all of this prayer, God may even tug on your heart to explore what it means to take your life overseas for a short-term or long-term mission trip. If so, please reach out to Providence’s missions department to explore some options.