This week, I was able to participate in my church’s missions conference. While we hosted 15 guests from a variety of nations, our primary focus this year was on South Africa. Our church sent a young woman as a missionary to South Africa over five years ago and in that time she has chosen to partner with two different organizations. Representatives of those organizations were able to be with us this week.
One afternoon, I had the privilege of spending time with a lady named Ruth who organizes 24-7 prayer in her community in South Africa. I found the conversation enlightening and encouraging, but probably not for the reasons you would expect. Here are a few of the topics we discussed.
- How do you teach prayer?
- How do you motivate people to pray?
- How do you encourage unity among various ministries?
In the midst of sharing stories, some of them victorious and others full of heartache, I recognized that I am not alone. I think I have known that I am one of many who have been chosen by God to pursue prayer individually and corporately. I think I have known that it’s not easy for everyone, and we all share in struggles and in victories. I think I have even known that I am not alone in feeling as though I don’t have the answers to the myriad of questions that swarm my mind as I hope to encourage others to choose prayer. What I didn’t know, or I had lost track of along this journey, is that it’s not just that God has chosen me but that I have chosen prayer.
The Intricacies of Prayer
The thing that I love about prayer is that it makes me be vulnerable. There is this amazing beauty woven into prayer that demands that you drop all vestiges of self-reliability, and lay yourself bare before the Almighty. You cannot continue with pretense and obtain results. It is the journey of brokenness that I have a love/hate relationship with. It is the multitude of conversations where I ask “How” fully aware of my ineptness that I long for. There is something about this life that makes it all so easy to believe in a lie of self-sustainability. It is too easy for me to believe that I can do it on my own. I am easily deceived.
But when I choose prayer, I realize that not only do I not know how to convince my own heart to choose prayer but I don’t know how to motivate anyone else either. Choosing prayer mandates that I be completely dependent upon the work of the Holy Spirit. The only way I know to answer those questions is through the process of relying on the breath of God stirring and hovering, whispering and guiding, teaching and drawing the hearts of men and women to himself. It plants itself firmly in the truth found in Philippians 1:6 “being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
So while I may not have specific answers to these questions, I pray that as you read these words, that you too will realize that you are not alone in the achey place of desperation that often accompanies the life of those who choose prayer. When Jesus himself spoke of prayer he was often found alone, in the night season, in a place of preparation. Nevertheless, he was met always with power from on high to accomplish the task that the Father had sent him to do. So too will you.
Jill Hurley is the Executive Director of Tech 24-7, a campus ministry at Texas Tech University which invites students from all denominations and backgrounds to join together in prayer initiatives such as Campus House of Prayer (CHOP) and the Collegiate Day of Prayer (CDOP). She is also the Interim Campus Director for Chi Alpha Campus Ministries at Texas Tech. She is currently pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Religion and Anthropology, and hopes to graduate in the next two years.