Have we lost urgency?


As a kid, I dreamed of playing left field for the Boston Red Sox. Hall of Fame player Carl Yastrzemski (Sox’s left fielder from 1961–1983) was my hero. But alas, my dream never got off the ground—the organized Little League teams in my neighborhood played on Wednesday nights.

As a pastor’s kid, I had to be somewhere else on Wednesday nights—prayer meetings. While I wasn’t always excited to be there, I do remember times when missionaries—often ones who had visited our church on tour—were lifted up in prayer. There always seemed to be a little more excitement, a little more passion when we were praying for missionaries.

I remember instances when we prayed for dire needs—like Archie Mitchell’s disappearance or when we received reports that missionaries had been killed. Prayer is part of our Alliance heritage. While some modern believers do not recognize the importance of prayer for lost people or missionaries, it is clear to me that we need to pray. Thanks to those Wednesday nights as a kid, I have never doubted that my prayers are needed.

A. B. Simpson desired to become a missionary. Although God called Simpson to “send” missionaries instead, he became legendary for his passion to pray for missions. Known for hugging a globe while he prayed, Simpson would often weep for hours over the lostness of so many around the world who had never heard the good news.

Simpson said, “There is no missionary force more prevailing than prayer. The great art of prayer in all the fullness of its power has been learned only by a few. God has His priests and priestesses who stand with holy hands at the footstool of the throne, sharing the intercession of the great High Priest, and some day it will be found that these are the greatest missionaries of all.”

Simpson inspired people to a phenomenal amount of prayer for overseas ministry. Alliance people would wake up during the night, feeling an intense burden to pray for a missionary only to learn that the missionary had been in tremendous danger at the moment of prayer. The Alliance—especially the W.M.P.F (Woman’s Missionary Prayer Fellowship)—took on sacrificial roles as primary intercessors for missionaries and challenged others to pray. Many people prayed earnestly and consistently.

Has the fervor to pray been lost? It seems like it has. I don’t hear my colleagues talk about experiencing an intense burden to pray. If we want to remain a dynamic, trendsetting mission organization, we need to get back to our heritage of prayer.
Most of us will never be missionaries on foreign soil, but we can have a powerful role in missions. We must not take prayer for missions lightly. It should be a part of everyone’s life. “The world is to be evangelized by the Church on her knees,” Simpson said. Do we believe that today? Let us rise—or kneel—to the occasion!

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