If you participated in this year’s Secret Church simulcast, then you will remember praying for various needs for the peoples of Vietnam. Even if you weren’t a part of that prayer time, you can join us as we begin our month-long prayer focus on the peoples of Vietnam.
To learn more about the prayer focus, go to the Pray for Vietnam website. There you’ll find our 31-day prayer guide for the month of May, which includes some specific ways you can pray for the church in Vietnam, as well as other spiritual and physical needs among the peoples of Vietnam.
To help us begin our prayer focus, Chris Ruge, Director of Prayercast Ministry, was kind enough to answer a few questions for us. Prayercast has a wealth of resources, all of which are aimed at encouraging believers to pray for those who do not know Christ around the world. You can find out more about this ministry and their resources here.
Q: When people think of getting involved in missions, prayer probably isn’t one of the first things that comes to mind. Why should it be?
Prayer is the single-most effective way to reach the masses. Many in the Church are familiar with Jesus’ observation that, “the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” (Lk 10:2) So what does He tell us to do as a result? “Therefore…PRAY”!
Two fundamental things happen when God’s people pray.
- When God’s people pray, HE MOVES. We don’t have to understand the deep theology behind this to see repeatedly in scripture that He has chosen to use us, His fallen creation, to somehow play a role in initiating His perfect plan. The advancement of the gospel and the expansion of God’s kingdom are far beyond human ability – only God can accomplish this. So we plead with Him to move in His power for the sake of the lost.
- When God’s people pray, THEY CHANGE. It is impossible to spend time in intimacy with Almighty God and stay the same. He fundamentally changes us as we draw near to Him.
The work of missions is inherently spiritual, and it requires spiritual strategies and tools. “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds” (2 Cor 10:4). There are strongholds in every mission field that require demolition, and we all need to be about the work of calling on God’s divine power to tear them down.
Q: Some people don’t know where to begin in praying for entire people groups. What are some ways we could pray for the peoples of Vietnam? (note: we will be issuing people a prayer guide with more specific prayer requests and with information on the peoples of Vietnam, but this questions could still be an opportunity to encourage people on the main priorities)
Anytime we pray for something as large as a nation, there are countless possible prayer requests. The question we always ask at Prayercast is “What are the biggest obstacles that, if changed, would pave the way for a historic move of the gospel across this nation?” This is praying strategically.
We believe the greatest obstacles to gospel advancement in Vietnam are 1) increased government restrictions on unregistered churches, and 2) disunity in the Church. We also believe there is great opportunity for the gospel through those who, like Paul, are “in chains for Christ” (Phil 1:13).
Q: How does praying for the nations actually change our lives too?
The Great Commission is a command on the life of every Christ-follower. When I pray for the lost around the world, I am engaging in work for which God specifically created me, and only in that work will I better understand His specific purposes for my life.
Many things MAY happen when we engage in prayer for the lost, but here are just a few specific things that likely WILL happen:
- We become more like Jesus. Our heart aligns with His heart, our will with His.
- Our understanding of the Church changes. Our status as members of the Body of Christ binds us together in unity with believers around the globe.
- Our capacity to worship God increases. Any broader understanding of God and His creation allows us to more fully appreciate and adore Him.
- Our respect for God’s power and His ability to work in the world expands.The more we pray, the more we see answered prayer.
- Our prayer life shifts beyond ourselves/our sphere. We pray for people with whom we have no personal connection.
- Our spiritual senses are heightened. Praying for the lost quickens our receptivity to God’s call or movement in our lives.
- Our small problems fade away. The absurdity of complaining about the weather is evident when praying for people who live in cardboard shacks.
- A piece of that nation gets placed inside us. We will forever be more alert to any news about the nation.
- We prepare to engage with the world. We now see the lost through God’s eyes, and we feel their depravity and hopelessness in place of opposition or even judgment.
And it all started with me praying for the lost in a country I didn’t know much about.
It is not normal for sinful human beings to deeply love strangers – or enemies, for that matter – and yet these are the exact demonstrations of love by which Jesus says we are to be identifiable as His followers (Jn 13:35, Matt 5:44). We are only capable of this kind of love when God fills us with it, and one way this happens is through prayer.