An effective missionary to the Lisu of Thailand, Burma and China, James O’Fraser says this:
“I used to think that prayer should have the first place and teaching the second. I now feel that prayer should have the first, second and third place and teaching the fourth.”
Prayer is something we all know to be a vital part of our lives. And certainly we see this in Paul in his ministry to the church in Philippi.
- Upon reaching the city to proclaim the gospel, the first thing we know is they together went to the river to pray (Acts 16:13)
- They later returned to that same place of prayer (16:16)
- After being arrested they were in the jail praying and singing (16:25)
- Paul prayed for the Philippians (Php 1:4)
- He said this was the subject of his prayer–that their love would increase (Php 1:9-11)
- The Philippian church prayed for Paul (1:19)
- Paul encouraged the church to pray (4:6)
The mission of Paul was marked with prayer. And these rich times of prayer seemed often to be corporate. In fact the first missionary journey was birthed in a gathering of leaders praying, fasting and worshiping together (Acts 13:1-3).
I pray pretty much throughout the day. But I’ll be honest, I really need greater consistency in the prayer that is set aside to pray. And another honest confession, I would love to experience more corporate prayer. Not the kind that is 5 minutes and prays for the sick people on our list, but the prayer that is really gathering together, waiting and listening to the Lord. I’ve experienced these times on the mission field and I miss them. There’s just an amplification that takes place in corporate prayer.
Even as I write this I am convicted that instead of writing and steady, I would do well to set aside that personal time of prayer. So I go. My mind is thinking of all the things I need to do today. But in the words of James O’Fraser’s director, he said of James that he was quick to point out that his time and energy was always saved by prayer and wasted with out it.