What is “missional prayer?” And why is there a room at Urbana dedicated to it?
Before we get into the nitty gritty, let me ask a couple more questions: When was the last time you went to a prayer meeting? How engaged were you with others and God as you prayed? Was it boring? How have you been praying for things like the Syrian refugee crisis, #BlackLivesMatter, the Paris attacks, Beruit, Baghdad, Kano, and all the other hotspots in the world? Do you sometimes feel so overwhelmed by domestic and world events that you are too paralyzed or numb to even have words to pray?
Missional prayer can help.
Let’s look at the root—missio—from the Latin—to send. A missionary is a sent one, someone with a calling to a particular people or task. Alan Hirsh explains:
A proper understanding of missional begins with recovering a missionary understanding of God. By his very nature God is a “sent one” who takes the initiative to redeem his creation. …In the incarnation God sent his Son. Similarly, to be missional means to be sent into the world; we do not expect people to come to us. …Every disciple is to be an agent of the kingdom of God, and every disciple is to carry the mission of God into every sphere of life.
Missional Prayer is the type of prayer which propels you from your prayer closet into the world. It is interactive and provocative and helps us visualize the world we live in and gives us accessible prompts to help us know what and how to pray.
In missional prayer, stations are often set up, depicting various corners of the world, or global or national issues with invitations to pray silently, or with a partner, or with printed words or by using or making art. As global and national issues are represented around the room, we are “sent to” these places as God’s ambassadors, praying things that may be on God’s heart. This might mean weeping, it might mean rejoicing, or it could mean just simple silence as we hold this piece of the world in our heart alongside Jesus. You will find people engaging in passionate intercession for the world as we are being drawn closer to it.
We are sent into the world not to blend in and be conformed, but to be agents of change, to be peacemakers and to both embody, and preach the gospel. As we go into the world we pray the prayer Jesus taught his disciples:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth, as it is in heaven…
Missional Prayer is intercession arising from the fact that God’s Kingdom has not yet come fully in this world and his will is not yet fully done. As Kingdom people this should bother us. But do we pray as though we are bothered?
When it comes down to it, prayer is a mystery. From James 5:16, we know that “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” But does this mean that God is just waiting around for us to ask him for something before he acts? Or is he already reconciling this broken world to himself before we pray? If so, what’s the point of praying? Won’t God just do what he wants no matter what we pray? And since he’s God, shouldn’t we just let him?
But Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5: 18-20:
“[T]hrough Christ [God] reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.”
God invites us to join with him in his reconciling work in a very real way. Prayer is a vehicle of agreeing with God as we earnestly ask him to reconcile the world to himself. But prayer is also a means of allowing ourselves to be drawn closer to this world and closer to the role God would have for us in his reconciling mission.
As I have engaged with others in missional prayer, I now pray differently. I pray differently, mainly due to the fact that I now believe more that God has the power to change people and the world. I pray with greater boldness and more authority.
Come visit the Missional Prayer Room in the Courtyard Atrium at Urbana (in between the Dome and America’s Center on the second floor). You will have the opportunity to learn from an ethnically and culturally diverse team of missionaries who are directly involved with a number of issues (i.e., Native communities, fighting human trafficking, #BlackLivesMatter, etc.)
The way you respond to the world around you will be transformed! Your prayer life will be revolutionized!