One of the biggest reasons for a Disciple Making Movement (DMM) not to work in an area is lack of prayer. This is why it’s really important for us all to keep on praying. I’d like to share some thoughts based on Acts 4 about how we can pray for an area where we are working to launch a DMM.
After God used Peter and John to heal a man lame from birth (Acts 3), they were arrested and brought before the Jewish leaders (Acts 4:1-22). When Peter and John were released, they returned to where the Christians were gathered and reported what had happened (verse 23). The believers then prayed (verses 24-31).
How did the believers pray? Most translations say something like “they raised their voices together in prayer” (v24 NIV)**. However, this does not convey the force of what actually happened. The word usually translated as “together” actually means “having the same passion.”
There’s more: this word is made up of two other words: one meaning “same” and the other meaning “passion.” The word for “passion” is very interesting. It’s not at all a gentle, warm, nice and fluffy kind of emotion. It describes actions driven by strong, intense impulses, getting heated up about something. In fact the word is very often used in the New Testament to describe anger, wrath, rage, fury or fierce indignation.
Wow! So these believers were not at all praying quiet, calm, inoffensive little prayers. No, they were praying with intense and indignant passion. And they all had exactly the same passion, they were united in that passion.
What were the Christians passionate about? What did they pray for? Did they pray that God would protect them from the Jewish and Roman authorities? No. Did they pray that God would allow them to have quiet and peaceful lives, happy and prosperous? No, not at all.
First of all (v29) they asked God to enable them to speak His word, the good news about Jesus, with great boldness: with freedom, confidence and cheerful courage, frankly, bluntly even! Secondly (v30), they asked God to work more miracles: healings, signs and wonders in the name of Jesus.
Our brothers and sisters were passionate about the Kingdom of God and its advancement. The only sense in which they were interested in themselves was so they could be more effective servants of God, helping to advance His Kingdom in the best way they possibly could. They had a true passion for the lost, for those that did not yet know Jesus as Lord. They knew that Jesus came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10) and they had the same passion as Jesus.
What was God’s response? Verse 31 tells us. First, the place where they were meeting was shaken by the power of God. Secondly, they were all filled with the Holy Spirit: literally “filled to the maximum.” Why? because it is the power of the Holy Spirit which gives God’s people boldness and effectiveness to proclaim His message (Acts 1:8). The second part of v31 shows us the result: they spoke the word of God boldly. What the text means is that they continued to speak the word of God boldly. God enabled them to carry on doing what they were already committed to, but now with greater power and boldness. Acts 5 tells us that God also answered the second part of their prayer by performing more miracles.
How does all this relate to a DMM?
Although the people praying for a specific DMM (or project to lauch a DMM), may be scattered all over the world, we can pray with the same passion for the people of the DMM project area. Let’s all decide to spend quality time with God and talk with Him about our passion. Let’s all ask the Holy Spirit to put His finger on the parts of our lives which do not measure up to the passion which God wants us to have. Let’s ask God to renew in our hearts a true passion for Him, for His glory, for His Kingdom and for the lost. Let’s ask God to put in our hearts the same passion which He has for the people of the DMM project area. His heart is broken for them, all of them: are our hearts broken like His?
As we pray, together in Christ although separated by thousands of miles, let us, each one of us, determine to pray with the same passion. Let’s pray that God will fill us with His Holy Spirit, fill us to the maximum. Let’s pray that God will stretch out His hand to perform miracles in the lives of people who are at the moment far from God: healings, signs and wonders. Let’s pray that God will give us great boldness to pray for the people we meet and that we would see miraculous healing, miraculous deliverance from addictions, miraculous deliverance from the bondage of occult practices. Why? So that God’s name will be glorified and that we will see the miracle of new life in Christ springing up again and again and again and again.
Yes, your DMM project area may be spiritually hard, very hard, but our God is a God of power! He is able! Let’s agree together to stop accepting the lies of the enemy, the lies that say only a very few will come to Christ in our area, because it’s too hard.
Remember the description in 2 Kings 13:14-19 of the prophet Elisha and King Jehoash of Israel. Elisha asked Jehoash to shoot an arrow, a prophetic arrow. Then Elisha asked the king to strike the ground with the bundle of arrows. Jehoash only struck the ground three times: he probably thought Elisha was mad and that hitting the ground with arrows was stupid, but in fact it was prophetic. God wanted Jehoash to keep on striking the ground, but Jehoash received the limited victory which resulted from his limited faith.
Let’s ask God to increase our faith for our area, so that we can pray outrageous prayers in boldness and faith, so that we will see God do outrageous things here, in His power and for His glory!
Prayer changes things. Passionate radical prayer will make radical changes, for the glory of God and the advancement of His Kingdom.
** Note: Acts 4:24 is sometimes interpreted as the believers all praying at the same time, in other words all speaking out loud in prayer at the same time. If this works for you, by all means continue to do this, it’s fine; but this is not what the original text actually means and there is no indication that this is how the believers were praying.