Have you ever just stopped and asked yourself, “Wait a minute. Where exactly am I?”
A few days ago, I was a mile or so into a long trail run when I began wondering if I was headed in the right direction. I stopped long enough to reorient myself, realized I was heading south instead of north, and promptly turned around. Somewhere along the way I’d taken a wrong turn. My mistake wouldn’t have gotten me lost or anything like that, but it did get me thinking about how important it can be sometimes to recheck your sense of direction, to figure out where you are and point yourself in the right way. We call that reorientation. It’s just something we need to do occasionally.
A quick moment of reorientation would have been helpful to NFL player Jim Marshall. He is among the greatest football players ever for the Minnesota Vikings. Nonetheless, playing defense against the San Francisco 49ers on October 25, 1964, he infamously picked up a fumbled football and ran it 66 yards in the wrong direction into his own end zone. Marshall explained afterward that he’d simply become disoriented and confused on the field, but that didn’t stop his teammates from giving him a hard time on the flight back to Minnesota. “They kept telling me to get up in the cockpit and fly the plane,” he told The Minneapolis Star. “That way we’d end up in Hawaii instead of Minnesota.”
We may need to know where we are on the map or on the playing field, but also in God’s plan. For that the Holy Spirit gives us moments for reorientation, the impulse to recheck our sense of direction, to rethink who and whose we are, and where we need to go. Whether the result is to stay the course, make a minor change in direction, or turn around altogether, it’s always worth taking the time to ask, in a sense, “Where’s north?”
Over the last few weeks or so, my “Where’s north?” question for the World Mission Prayer League has been one we’ve asked ourselves repeatedly over the years. It’s worth asking again to reorient ourselves as we ponder the path forward for our ministry. Here’s the question:
Is the World Mission Prayer League “a sending agency that prays” or “a praying fellowship that sends?”
It seems clear to me that we are, in fact, both. We are a non-profit Christian organization that sends workers into God’s global harvest fields, and as we do so, we pray. In fact, prayer, as we like to say, is our “working method.” At the same time, we are a “league,” a community of fellow believers committed to praying together for the unreached peoples of the world, enjoining the Lord of the harvest to provide workers, and then actually sending them, or going ourselves, as he responds.
While both of these are true, we do well to ask ourselves: Which of these are we primarily? Are we first and foremost a sending agency that prays, or a praying fellowship that sends? From which of these do we establish our heading? Which one is our “north?” Which of these is the understanding to which we can go when we need a moment to reorient ourselves?
My own sense of direction on this, which I trust is from the Holy Spirit, and which has been repeatedly affirmed in conversations with fellow “WMPLers,” lands me every time in the same direction: At our core and by God’s calling, the World Mission Prayer League is a praying fellowship before it is a sending agency. As the Lord bids us, we come together to pray, and then as God leads us, we go, or we send, according to his call and provision.
If we were to orient ourselves first to our being a sending agency that prays, I fear that we could somehow lose our way, failing to be the praying fellowship that God has so faithfully blessed and used these many years. As I shared with you two months ago, identifying, placing, and sending global workers has become increasingly challenging over the last few years. This does not mean that we will cease sending. By no means! It does, however, cause us to emphasize all the more our first calling, and that is to pray together.
As we pray together we reaffirm and act on our complete reliance upon God for his provision and his direction. We, in fact, then do things as Jesus ordered them, telling his disciples first to pray (Luke 10:2) before telling them to go (Matthew 28:19). Prayer is indeed our working method. It is, as the Lord would have it, where our work begins.
If you read and pray through the needs we share here in Together in Prayer, you are part of our praying fellowship. Thank you! You are part of the “north” where we find our direction. Where does that take us? Where might it take you? I look forward to sharing more about that next month! In the meantime, keep praying!