At the start of a year it’s expected to reflect on a year that has past and think ahead to the year that is to come; for me it’s a time to think again about my life of prayer and how much I am engaged in sharing Jesus with others. Is prayer still central? How much am I willing to share my faith with others?
In doing that I was reminded of a great story I once read: there once was a little boy building a sandcastle kingdom in the sand pit at the bottom of the garden. The little boy patiently gathered the sand, unloaded it into the bucket and gingerly upturned it to create sandcastle after sandcastle. Things were going well until the little boy struck the BIG rock with his spade. The rock was in the way of his masterpiece and so he tried to remove the obstacle. He pushed with hands and feet, he pulled and shoved, he tried using the spade as leverage but all to no avail. Completely frustrated and disappointed, he burst into tears and threw the spade away. Dad had been keeping a close eye on his son’s building project. At this point he went into the garden and knelt down beside his son and asked, ‘Why didn’t you use all the strength you had?’ Indignant the boy explained how he had shoved and pushed with all his might. Dad, picking up the rock with ease gently explained, ‘No son, you didn’t use all the strength you have because you didn’t ask me’. The little boy learnt something valuable that day, but I wonder have we learnt that lesson in our lives?
The Apostle Paul knew the importance and necessity of prayer and mission working hand in hand, of using all the strength and resources of God to witness and win those outside the Kingdom: “Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. Pray for us too that God will give us many opportunities to speak about his mysterious plan concerning Christ. That is why I am here in chains. Pray that I will proclaim this message as clearly as I should. Live wisely among those who are not believers and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have
the right response for everyone” (NLT Colossians 4:2-6)
Prayer is not an optional extra that we tag onto outreach, but has to be integral to how we live out our faith and demonstrate it in word and deed. Through prayer we connect with the heart of God and He deposits His words, confidence, supernatural empowerment into our lives, so we can make the most of every opportunity. It is talking to God about our ‘neighbours’ before talking to our neighbours about God.
Why would we not want to use all the strength we have to remove the obstacles, the BIG rocks in people’s lives that hinder them from coming to know Jesus? Or maybe the BIG rocks are obstacles in our lives that hinder us from sharing Jesus?
Prayer works to change the spiritual atmosphere, to develop us in faith and to bring God’s timely and wise words into conversations. It is vital that we develop a life of prayer and mission, that as we are open to God’s voice, we can be obedient as He prompts us to share our faith in relevant ways. We are invited by God to be a part of revealing the most amazing good news of love and grace to our world. As we begin this year, this Centenary year for the Elim movement, may we pray for boldness, opportunities, conversations, right living and wisdom to live out the message of Jesus Christ.