Mission begins with prayer
Executive director/CEO, Mennonite Mission Network
When we pray, we are changed, and growth, healing, liberation and restoration happen.
Through prayer, we experience the opening of our hearts to embrace what God intends for the world. Prayer enlarges our vision regarding the possibilities that God is able to bring to life through us.
In the Acts of the Apostles, a history of the earliest church, mission and prayer were inextricable. Prayer led to mission. There was no prayer without mission and, by the same token, there was no mission without prayer.
Each time the believers prayed, amazing things happened: New understandings and convictions were born—when Peter prays at the home of Simon the tanner, God gives him a vision that leads him to a new understanding of the inclusion of Gentiles as part of the church (Acts 10:1–48).
People were identified and made themselves available to be witnesses— out of the prayer in the church in Antioch, Paul and Barnabas are set apart as mission workers to the Gentiles (Acts 13:1–3).
Obstacles were removed—as the church prayed, Peter is released from his chains to continue his mission to the Gentiles (Acts 12:3–17).
Today, also, new opportunities, innovative vision, and fresh resolve are birthed when believers pray.
Our Missio Dei release, The Patagonia Story: Congregations in Argentina and Illinois link ‘Arm-in-Arm’ for Mission, recounts the remarkable growth of the church in the Patagonia region of Argentina. It begins in prayer, as Argentine Mennonites commissioned and sent North Americans Floyd and Alice Sieber to the community of Choele Choel in Patagonia. Prayer became the foundation of a movement that saw amazing growth throughout the Rio Negro River Valley and beyond, as Argentine pastors developed a vision for mission across central and southern Argentina. Workers were raised up and churches were planted with a vigor and vitality previously unwitnessed in that region.
I worshiped with representatives from those churches. Prayer was the main agenda of a meeting that lasted well past midnight. With joy and abandon, the gathered believers opened their hearts to God’s vision and committed their lives to serve the gospel. That prayer has spread to Illinois, where Mennonite churches in the Southern Illinois Mission Partnership are following the prayerful Patagonia model of missional expansion.
Mission begins in prayer. Mission is renewed and sustained by prayer. Apart from prayer, the mission of the church is lost and the church declines.
We are truly grateful for Mennonite Mission Network’s prayer partners who volunteer their time to pray. We are also indebted to our partners around the world for the inspiration and testimony they provide through their practices of prayer.
Through prayer, we are changed to be able to see with God’s eyes and discover anew God’s vision for the world. God graciously transforms us to become and to do all that God intends for us to be and to do, including becoming instruments of healing and hope in the world.