Sons and daughters of Africa: arise and pray to the Lord of the harvest!
By Jacob Igba
For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name. For my name will be great among the nations. (Malachi 1:11 ESV).
Today, the mission field is becoming the mission force! The church in Africa is taking her place in furthering God’s global mission. But the first and important step in doing this, according to Jesus in Luke 10, is not a lot of money or a flight ticket! The first and most important step is to pray to the Lord of the harvest! He is the one who calls new workers and he commands us to join him by praying that he will send out more. Many have come to recognize God’s call as other Christians prayed for them.
As Samuel Zwemer noted, “The history of mission is the history of answered prayer. It is the key to the whole mission problem. All human means are secondary.” Zwemer was the first long term missionary to the Arab world, serving from 1891 to 1929, and was nicknamed the Apostle to Islam. In God’s infinite wisdom, he designed mission activity to be one of complete and total dependence on Him through prayer. He accomplishes his purposes in answer to the prayer of his people.
The church in Africa is known as a praying church. She possesses this vital resource needed for the advancement of God’s global mission. But this resource needs to be more focused on the advancement of God’s global mission through prayer and intercession for missionaries and the unreached.
God calls some to go and some to stay, but he calls all of us to pray. He expects those who stay to evangelize locally, make disciples, send disciples and pray. Those who are sent always need a committed group of senders standing with them in prayer and providing financial support.
Through strategic, consistent and persistent prayer (Luke 11:1-10), leaders, churches, sons and daughters of Africa who are in Christ can rise and embrace this privilege and the honour of joining God in his noble quest for the worship due to Him by “travelling on our knees.” Countries can change because of our prayer (see the example in our sidebar).
Missionary Luke Herrin, International Director of Africa Inland Mission (AIM), once admonished, “Pray that the Lord will send more labourers, pray that the lord will send from your midst [your local church or fellowship group], and pray that the Lord will send you.” Here are some questions to ponder:
- What are you doing in your context to pray for missions and missionaries?
- What is your church doing to pray for missions and missionaries?
- What specific steps can you take to increase prayer activity and support for Christians to be sent to the lost?
“Brother, if you would enter that Province, you must go forward on your knees.” – Hudson Taylor, pioneer missionary to China
“I served four years in North Africa with my family as a missionary… The country was majority Muslim, with an ever-widening gap between the rich and the poor. The corrupt police defrauded taxi drivers. Sanitation was almost non-existent. Sunday was a national working day. The situation called for desperate action. So, Christian leaders prepared a comprehensive prayer list covering every possible national concern and mobilized the few evangelical churches in the capital to begin 40 days of fasting and spiritual warfare.
The result was astonishing. In the same week we started praying about the corruption of the police, the taxi drivers went on strike. Upon investigation, the government ordered the police off the roads immediately and the check-points were removed, to the relief of everyone. Also, in the week we were praying about the sanitation in the city, about 50 big refuse-collection trucks donated by Israel moved around the city clearing the refuse. Our final surprise came when the president announced the changeover to a Saturday-Sunday weekend. The country was making this change after 30 years of a Friday-Saturday weekend. This is the power of fasting, prayer and spiritual warfare.”
– J.F.K Mensah of Ghana
Dr. Jacob Igba serves as Mobilising Coordinator for the South Africa region for Africa Inland Mission (AIM). From Nigeria, his experience includes university ministry, church planting among Muslim peoples of Northern Nigeria, and teaching the New Testament, Christology, theology and missions. Jacob and wife Juliet have two sons.