I have not heard, so far, of a minister, missionary or leader who is able to provide for himself all the prayer needed to sustain his personal life, his family and his ministry. Whoever has been born of God is called to be an agent in promoting spiritual and historic change. The more strategies we use for the kingdom’s advancement, more we will face spiritual opposition, which, consequently, stresses the need to be under the umbrella of prayer.
The ministry is the work of the Holy Spirit in people’s hearts, in the heart of the messenger himself, and in the circumstances. Since we ourselves cannot produce spiritual change, every ministry is prayer-dependent. That doesn’t mean that we only ask God to bless what we do. More than that, I believe, our prayers should impact what we do to reflect exactly what God is doing. The two must be synchronized.
There is a significant difference in both perspectives. The former points to the kind of prayer that “awakens” God and causes Him to operate. The second, we join such work by discerning what He is doing and being part of it.
Let’s imagine the church as a huge sailing vessel on high seas. In the absence of wind (the Holy Spirit’s action), which is generated under meteorological factors (e.g. the prayers of the saints, God’s plan), we won’t go anywhere.
Amplifying this metaphor, spiritual leadership may be understood as the dedication of one to the study of under-ocean currents, weather conditions, and the construction of ships, so that precise guidance is available whenever needed, and regardless of the circumstances, the crew is prepared to set sale in the right direction, at the right moment.
However, effective leadership is not based exclusively on knowledge, but also, on action. I mean, the kind of action that is preceded by prayer, prayer-action! If it is true that the leaders need the people to pray for them, it is also true that the followers depend upon its leader’s intercession. See Moses’ and Joshua’s examples (Exodus 17). As Joshua fought with Amalek, Moses stood on the top of the hill, interceding. Joshua’s advancement against the enemy was directly combined with Moses’ perseverance in prayer.
See also Aaron (Num 16). Because the people had sinned, God sent a plague among them. Aaron ran into the midst of the assembly “and he stood between the dead and the living; and the plague was stopped”. We may conclude that, in God’s judgment scale, intercession is a final measure that moves His hand to wrath or mercy!
Now apply these examples in terms of missionary work and you will tremble just to think that the eternal destiny of millions of people is under the Church’s responsibility, particularly the leadership! Jesus commended His disciples (Mat. 16): “Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven…” What a mission!
The focus today is on setting the planning strategy, which is the favorite approach that new leadership concentrates on. Yet, it is worthwhile to keep in mind that unless we, as leaders, restore our life of prayer, there will be no hope for us or our congregation, and no hope for the millions of people who are outside our doors and ministries dying under Satan’s control.
Not long ago, leadership could stare at the future, ponder reality and establish, with some precision, which way to go. Now, with all the tremendous changes that new technology furnishes, the scene has changed drastically in a very short span of time.
In the world of international trade, it is necessary that the entrepreneur moves instinctively rather than rationally. In the church, leaders who will be capable of guiding God’s people to a safe place must enlarge and improve their spiritual skills. It means that this process goes beyond natural gifts and academic skills. This has always been the case, but it is more emphatic now than ever before.
In practice, I want to be bold enough to declare with serenity and certainty: “For thus says the Lord…” or, just as in Acts (15.28): “For it seemed good for the Holy Spirit, and to us…” instead of “I think it would be better if…”. Can you see the difference?
The Brazilian church has changed in many aspects. A new generation of professionals and missionaries presents a new way of thinking. The world has changed drastically in the last twenty years. Our sailing vessel (Teleiós Ministry) must be tuned with the Holy Spirit in order to serve our generation.
Pray for us, while we encourage the Brazilian Missionary Movement.
José RM Prado