Pray without ceasing. Several months back we were talking on our team about what it means to "orad sin cesar". This is a command, not a suggestion. We all have heard numerous teachings and applications to what Paul's words mean in 1Thessalonians 5:17. Our own understanding is that God wants us to pray about something continually (without ceasing) until He answers. What we usually do is pray about something for a few days, and then move on to other things. We seldom pray "without ceasing" until God actually answers.
Persevering in prayer over the long haul is probably the most crucial work we are engaged in. But not just prayer for prayer's sake, but praying in the same vein as the widow in Luke 18.
Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should ALWAYS PRAY and NOT GIVE UP.
Jesus then relates the parable of the persistent widow and her pleading her case with the unrighteous judge.
For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, 'Even though I don't fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't eventually wear me out with her coming!' " And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly.
What Jesus seems to be clearly teaching is that pleading, insisting, stubbornly asking, persistence in praying for "Kingdom causes" is something that He is pleased with. If this sounds theologically "off" about "pestering" God with our repeated cries, just read slowly again Luke 18:1-8.
While we have always prayed in our ministry, what has changed is the WAY we pray. We have clearly identified several things that are absolute "musts" if we are ever going to see Ecuador come to Christ. It is these few things that we stubbornly, daily, persistently bring before the Lord in prayer. Every time we meet as a team we pray these same things over and over. We believe Jesus' words where he says, "I tell you, he [God] will see that they get justice, and quickly."
So, what are some of those things we pray for daily?
-laborers for the harvest
-God would give us 500,000 new disciples who will gather in newly formed churches
-that every church would plant at least one other church this year
-that every single believer amongst us would win/disciple at least four others this year
-that God would send us Stateside partnering churches to help us reach our province for Christ through the "Guayas Para Cristo" project
-that God would give to every believer in our midst passion, perseverance, and power from on high to serve Him
-that God would protect each of us from the "3 D's" of the Devil: discouragement, distraction, and division
-that God would heal the sick amongst us and heal us emotionally and spiritually
-that God would grant us love, joy and harmony in our families and homes
-for our list of national and international missionaries and their needs and ministries
-for all our family members who do not yet know the Lord
Each month there are several new dated items that we pray for, but the above list is carried over day after day, week after week, month after month.
We publish a printed one-page prayer list that is distributed to all of the cooperating churches in our network. Every believer is encouraged to pray daily for the petitions on the list. (If interested in praying with us, and you know Spanish, drop me a line and I will gladly send you a copy!)
So, has God begun to answer the above? You bet!
Time and space do not permit sharing all that God is doing in response to these petitions. Hardly a day goes by that I don't receive a phone call, or hear a testimony of how God is answering the above petitions. Our people are excited because they can see that the Lord is opening doors like never before. Our prayers are being heard. We can hardly keep up with all God is doing on multiple fronts in response to these prayers. We are learning that our God absolutely loves to answer prayer!
Just to give one example of many... After literally years of daily praying for laborers, asking God to mobilize workers into His harvest fields, in the past few weeks we have seen the Lord begin to answer this prayer beyond anything we could possibly imagine. This year we are being asked to help train 60,000 church planter/discipler workers. They in turn will seek to win/disciple 1-million into the Kingdom in the coming year. We attribute 100% this to God answering our continued, ceaseless praying for laborers. The trainings begin April 8. Will you pray with us "without ceasing" that God would be glorified in all of the above?