You may have reasonably supposed that the World Mission Prayer League is an agency for the sending and support of missionaries. I hope that I will not disappoint you: we are not. Over the last few months we have worked our way through our Mission Handbook, and the Mission Statement that stands at its center. If you have followed along, you will have discovered precisely what we are. We are a praying league with a world mission (Handbook, ¶8).
“We are not primarily a missionary-sending organization,” our Handbook explains. “We are a praying league, a community of men and women who are committed to prayer as a key methodology for advancing the Gospel of Christ. Prayer is the working method of our mission” (¶18). “At its deepest and best, our community is simply a fellowship at prayer…” (¶35).
We pray our way through life.
It is the Prayer League way to pray. Do we feel the need for financial support? We pray. Do we anticipate the need for goods or equipment, travel or training, project support or other material supplies? We pray again. We believe ourselves called to pray for the needs of the Mission and its workers, and to trust in God to provide as he designs. (¶127)
We pray in any circumstance, for any concern, and at any moment of the day. Yet our Handbook describes a specific focus for all of our praying. We pray “for the advance of [Christ’s] Kingdom” around the world (¶12). If we pray sometime for “goods or equipment” – this is the underlying reason. If we pray for “the needs of the Mission and its workers” – this is the bottom line. We pray to advance the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.
If ever you have prayed the Lord’s Prayer, you have joined us in this plea. Many of you, I suppose, will have prayed this way every day: “Your Kingdom come!”
Martin Luther offers an explanation of this biblical petition.
“[Christ’s] kingdom comes of itself, without our prayer, yet we pray… that it may come to us, that is, prevail among us and with us, so that we may be a part of those among whom His name is hallowed and His kingdom prospers. (Large Catechism, ¶50)
[W]e pray here in the first place that this may become effective with us… and that it may gain approbation and adherence among other people and proceed with power throughout the world, that many may find entrance into the Kingdom of Grace, be made partakers of redemption, being led thereto by the Holy Ghost, in order that thus we may all together remain forever in the one kingdom now begun. (¶52)
Martin Luther has the emphasis precisely correct. When we pray for the advance of Christ’s Kingdom, we are praying, first of all, that his gracious rule may prevail among us. We are praying for surrendered hearts, for lively faith, for a clearer view of his wonderful grace, and a deeper commitment to his cause. We are praying to know him. We are praying to hear his voice, and for the grace to respond in trusting faith and obedience.
And then we are praying that this true faith may “proceed with power throughout the world.” When we pray in this way, Luther explains, we are praying that “many may find entrance into the Kingdom of Grace,” that “many… be made partakers of redemption,” that we may find ourselves together with them “forever in the one kingdom now begun.”
“Thy Kingdom come!” We mean the Kingdom taking root in our hearts, and the Kingdom reaching out through our lives. We mean “taking root downward and bearing fruit upward,” in the words of the prophet Isaiah (37:31). We mean living in Jesus and by his grace – and for him in the world.
It turns out that we do send and support missionaries, of course. Yet this is not precisely why we exist. We are a praying league. And in our praying we are given a world mission.
Other posts in this Introducing the Mission Handbook series: