“… then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.”
Philippians 2:2 (NIV)
There is unquestionable strength in numbers, but that strength becomes supernatural when people align around a common mission. In a world that all too frequently seeks to show what divides us, the last year has also revealed what can happen when we allow love to unite us.
Unity in Action
On March 6, 2020, I boarded a flight in Washington, D.C. It would be my last for the year. A week later, the United States government declared a national emergency, and sobering reports of the rapid spread of the coronavirus began to pour in from Baptist sisters and brothers around the world. Our team at the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) scrambled to respond to the crisis, but it was unlike any we had witnessed in our lifetime. For a ministry whose mission is to network Baptists to impact the world for Christ, how could we effectively do so at a time when the world was forcibly isolated?
When the best step to take is unclear, the best choice to make is draw near.
Physical distance mandates had separated humanity, but there was no need to socially distance from our Savior. The best choice was to pray. Our team got to work planning a global prayer call that would feature brief interview segments with ministry leaders from an array of institutions ranging from healthcare to higher education. The call would serve as a kickoff to a 24-hour prayer marathon with an invitation for people to intercede in one-hour time slots. More than 600 people from 44 countries joined the initiative, which led to the formation of a global prayer team and intercession for thousands of prayer requests in the months that followed.
There are few things that can unite the people of God more effectively than praying together. This is the basis for our Baptists One in Prayer resource, a weekly email that highlights several countries each week and how to specifically pray for God’s work in those areas. Over the course of the year, recipients have the opportunity to pray for every nation in the world as well as for specific needs that arise when disasters strike or religious freedom is threatened. Using the One in Prayer email as our guide, the BWA team gathers each Wednesday for a strategic time of prayer for the world and for one another.
At a time when international travel is limited, you have the opportunity to bring the world to your people.
- Invite your community to sign up for the weekly One in Prayer email at BaptistWorld.org/prayer.
- Set aside a time for a global prayer focus within your worship services, Sunday School classes, and Bible study gatherings.
- Seek out and share firsthand prayers from ministry leaders serving in other parts of the world. The BWA shares such prayers in both video and written formats throughout the year.
- Consider placing a map in a prominent place in your home as both a reminder to pray for the world but also as a teaching tool to encourage children / grandchildren to become global prayer warriors.
While we long for the day when Gospel witness can again take place face-to-face, we must make certain we are ready for the doors God will open. We have long prayed for the Spirit to ready the hearts of the lost, but we will have missed the mark if do not seize this time to ready ours. The challenges of this pandemic have prepared the way, softening what was once hard soil into fertile ground awaiting harvest.
- Write down the names of five people in your life who are in need of Christ’s love.
- Ask God to open doors for you to be a source of encouragement and hope in their lives and for the Spirit to bring Colossians 4:6 (NIV) to bear so that “your conversation [may] be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
I wholeheartedly believe praying people are powerful people. Imagine the revival that might await if believers around the world are united in prayer in the pursuit of our shared mission.
But may we never forget the object of our pursuit is a Person. A post-pandemic world without our ever-present Savior is a sad world indeed, so let us pray together as Moses did: “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here” (Exodus 33:15, NIV). Lead us on, Lord.
For Reflection and Discussion
- Why do you think prayer is often perceived as the last resort rather than the first step?
- In your spiritual life, has prayer felt more like a passive step or an active one?
- What steps can you take to incorporate a global prayer focus into your daily life? Into your community?
- What lessons have you learned during this season that you can share as part of your Gospel witness with those seeking answers?
- What steps can and will you take in your community to ensure no one loses sight of our shared mission?