23 Apr Four Prayer Points from My Visit to West Africa
1. The Revelation of God through His Creation
What I observed: A mighty river courses through the desert land, placed there by a mighty God. This river is able to refresh and restore the land and its people while it is within its prescribed banks, but this same river is also able to destroy lands and homes, and threaten people’s lives and livelihoods when it overtakes its prescribed boundaries. Great sand dunes are amassed in beautiful architectural formations that men could not create. These provide shade for nomadic peoples during the hot days and sheltered protection in the cool of night. In these small ways, we can see Romans 1:20 at work, revealing His mighty power, His holy ways, and His provisional care for His creation.
Prayer: Seeing these things first-hand leads me to pray that the peoples here will recognize the true Creator God behind them.
2. The Eyes of the Heart
What I observed: Throughout this land, the eyes of the people told stories about their lives, and their response to others not like them visiting their land. Some eyes seemed to give looks of distrust, disgust, and disdain. Others gave looks of imploring for relationship, help, and trust. Still others gave looks of grace and love…a quiet peace in the midst of poverty and hurt…with minds and hearts open for the message of Christ.
Prayer: Seeing these eyes with my own, makes me pray that the eyes of the peoples in this land will be opened to the light of God’s Word, and the truth of Jesus Christ as their Savior. Also, I pray that the missionaries and the very few native Christians living in their midst would have their eyes open to recognize the opportunities to share love and care in small ways with the eyes that don’t yet trust – and those who are desperate for relationship – and to share the gospel with those eyes who are ready, as they see them each day.
3. The Heart of the Culture
What I observed: This land is steeped in smells of open charcoal fires burning all over the city, used for cooking and warmth, around which form pockets of community. It is painted with vibrant, colorful fabrics to keep its people cool and perhaps to lift spirits in the pull of living in a parched land. The taste of natural sweets of dates, beesap, and mangoes bring small tastes of sweet joy to offset the otherwise seemingly bland everyday rhythm of rice and limited greens.
Prayer: These experiences lead me to pray that, through the missionaries there and God’s mighty Holy Spirit, these peoples would begin to taste and see that the Lord is good, that they would experience the lasting provision of food, warmth, joy, and goodness from a God who cares for them. It leads me to pray that the missionaries there will carry with them the aroma of Christ, the smell of life to those who have accepted His gift.
4. The Soil and Timing of the Lord
What I observed: This place is filled with so much soil, so much dust, so many grains of sand. It has soil that is parched and hard, it has soil that is able to be plowed and tilled and irrigated to sustain life, and it has soil that is light and shifting, unable to be trusted to stay and not be carried away with the wind. Just as Jesus shared the parable of the soils, and their ability to receive and retain the gospel, seeing these varying soils all in one place leads me to pray for the soil of the hearts of the peoples in this place.
Prayer: It leads me to ask the Lord to be preparing the soil of the hearts of those with whom our missionaries will be interacting. It leads me to pray for that soil to be like those patches I saw that can be plowed, tilled, and irrigated to help the seeds of life to take root, to begin to grow, and to flourish and provide sustenance and nourishment to others who can produce more again. It leads me to pray for a discipleship movement to take place as seeds are sown, and new lives are grown, by which other seeds may be sown and new lives grown, until we see a people group affected and changed for eternity in Christ.
Today, I pray that these points of prayer would encourage you as you pray for those who are boldly proclaiming the Gospel around the world. May we continue to have a global vision of God’s Kingdom work.
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.”
These are the reflections of Mike Shelton from his visit with some of Legacy’s missions partners in West Africa.