Prayer And Missions
By E. M. Bounds (1835 – 1913)
The Spirit of Jesus Christ is the spirit of missions. Our Lord Jesus Christ was Himself the first missionary. His promise and advent composed the first missionary movement. The missionary spirit is not simply a phase of the Gospel, not a mere feature of the plan of salvation, but is its very spirit and life. The missionary movement is the church of Jesus Christ marching with the design of possessing the whole world of mankind for Christ. Whoever is touched by the Spirit of God is fired by the missionary spirit.
The key of all missionary success is prayer. That key is in the hands of the home churches. The home church on her knees fasting and praying, is the great base of spiritual supplies, the sinews of war, and the pledge of victory in this dire and final conflict. Financial resources are not the real sinews of war in this fight. Machinery in itself carries no power to break down walls, open effectual doors and win lost hearts to Christ. Prayer alone can do the deed.
It is all right to urge men to give of their means to the missionary cause. But it is much more important to urge them to give their prayers to the movement. Foreign missions need, today, more the power of prayer. Prayer can make even poverty in the missionary cause move on amidst difficulties and hindrances. Much money without prayer is helpless and powerless in the face of the utter darkness and sin and wretchedness on the foreign field.
The Prophet Isaiah, looking down the centuries with the vision of a seer, thus expresses his purpose to continue in prayer and give God no rest till Christ’s kingdom be established among men: “For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth” (Isa. 62:1).
Then, foretelling the final success of the Christian church, he thus speaks: “And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name” (v. 2).
Then the Lord, Himself, by the mouth of this evangelical prophet, declares as follows: “I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that make mention of the Lord, keep not silence, and give Him no rest, till He establish, and till He make Jerusalem a praise in the earth” (vv. 6-7). In the margin of our Bible, it reads, “Ye that are the Lord’s remembrancers.” The idea is, that these praying ones are those who are the Lord’s remembrancers, those who remind Him of what He has promised, and who give Him no rest till God’s church is established in the earth.
And one of the leading petitions in the Lord’s Prayer deals with this same question of the establishing of God’s kingdom and the progress of the Gospel in the short, pointed petition, “Thy kingdom come,” with the added words, “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10).
Mighty prayer is the one great spiritual force which will enable the Lord Jesus Christ to enter into full possession of His kingdom, and secure for Him the heathen as His inheritance, and the uttermost part of the earth for His possession.
A person who can pray is the mightiest instrument Christ has in this world. A praying church is stronger than all the gates of hell.
God’s decree for the glory of His Son’s kingdom is dependent on prayer for its fulfillment: “Ask of Me, and I shall give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession” (Psa. 2:8). The reason why the church has not received more in the missionary work in which it is engaged is the lack of prayer. “…Ye have not, because ye ask not” (Jas. 4:2).
Is the harvest great? Are the laborers few? Then “pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth laborers into His harvest” (Matt. 9:38). Oh, that a great wave of prayer would sweep over the church asking God to send out a great army of laborers into the needy harvest fields of the earth!
Today there is great need of intercessors, first, for the needy harvest fields of the earth, born of a Christly compassion for the thousands without the Gospel; and then intercessors for laborers to be sent forth by God into the needy fields of earth.