“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere — in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
The Great Commission of Acts 1:8 gives us power, responsibility, and mission.
All of us and each of us share the power, responsibility, and mission, but not every one of us is to go to the ends of the earth. For some, it is to go. For some, it is to teach us here. For others, it is to pray for those who go and who teach. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord (1 Corinthians 12:5).
Those of us who share in this great commission through prayer have an immense responsibility. Remember that Paul, one of the mightiest of the apostles, begged the believers “through the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the love of the Holy Spirit, to strive together with <him> in your prayers to God” for him (Romans 15:30). He counted as a gift the prayer of the people (2 Corinthians 1:11).
Yet some people neglect their responsibility and question the power of prayer. How can it be that prayer can change anything? How is it that the all-powerful God can be limited by our prayer or by our failure to pray?
We know that the Almighty God, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, is powerful. Job tells us that the foundations of heaven shudder at his rebuke, and that creating the horizon and hanging the earth on nothing are “…just the beginning of all that he does, merely a whisper of his power. Who, then, can comprehend the thunder of his power?” (26:14). God’s power is awesome.
We know that God loves justice, and yet we also know that God loves us. He gave the life of his only son out of his love for us, his created human beings (John 3:16). God’s will for us is goodness.
We know that God does not change. He is “…the same, yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
What God wills is awesome goodness forever.
But we live in a sinful world, and our holy God cannot tolerate any sin. Sin, and its horrific consequences, must be covered by the salvation we have in Jesus. This covering is done through prayer in Jesus’ name. Paul tells us in Philippians (4: 6, 7) that we should not “worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” If you are new to daily prayer, start out with five minutes every day, praying with thanksgiving for your church and your family. If you already are praying daily, try increasing your prayer time by five or ten minutes, praying with confession and thanksgiving for your Pastor, church, family, Israel.
Our prayer does not change God. Neither his will nor his power is changed through our prayer. What prayer changes is the course of God’s action. It is this action — God at work in our lives — that changes our situations and transforms our being. If your responsibility is to bring the mission into the power of God’s goodwill action for his beloved people, then pray earnestly, and pray daily.
Linda Lee Karanja Sebastian