From: Rhett Austin
There is a baking competition my family enjoys watching in which contestants compete for the top amateur baker in the UK by producing everything from bagels to elegant French pastries. As a part of the competition, the bakers are given a surprise challenge. This usually involves them being handed a list of ingredients and a highly pared-down recipe. Sometimes the recipe is so bare-bones that it simply lists the ingredients and then says something like, “Make the crème patisserie.” Because these are experienced bakers, they know in most cases what the end product should look like. If I, however, was a contestant on the program and told to produce a crème patisserie, it would undoubtedly be a comedy of errors. I wouldn’t know where to start.
When it comes to talking about “missional prayer,” it can perhaps feel as if we are trying to bake an unfamiliar kind of pastry with no recipe and no sense of what the final product is really supposed to be. In approaching missional prayer, it helps to “break down the ingredients” so that we have a better understanding of what the final result may look like. Let’s take a moment to do this.
A mission refers to actively and purposefully working to achieve a particular vision. God’s mission, as we see from Genesis to Revelation, is to redeem the world and to restore humanity to relationship with himself through the work of his Son, Jesus Christ. We serve a missional God; a God who is carrying out his redemptive plans for creation and will one day bring it to full completion. This plan centers on the person and work of Jesus.
But “mission” also carries with it the idea of being sent out to work toward a common goal. For example, a missionary is someone sent out by a church or Christian organization with the goal of leading people to Jesus Christ.
This is important to understand if we are going to grasp what “missional” really means. When Christians talk about wanting to be “missional,” we are not asking God to give us a mission; instead, we are asking God to direct us and empower us to participate in his mission. God has chosen to use his people as the instrument by which he achieves this mission to spread the gospel and to make disciples of all the nations. Each one of us is called to this task. This is now part of our new identity. If our Father is missional, then his sons and daughters will be too.
The second “ingredient” is prayer. Prayer, at its most basic level, is communication with God. It is communication that is based on our communion that we have with him through Jesus Christ. We can communicate with him because we are already in communion with him as his reconciled children.
Prayer is more than simply making requests to God. Prayer is the foundation for carrying out the mission. Through prayer, God responds to our requests to send out laborers into the harvest; through prayer, he transforms our hearts to love others and stimulates our desire to participate in his mission; and through prayer, he empowers us by his Spirit to faithfully proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. Missional prayer is prayer that is preoccupied with the proclamation of the gospel to the nations— both locally and abroad.
To put it in summary form, missional prayer (1) praises God for making us part of his missional people, (2) petitions him to advance his missional work of redemption in the world, and (3) prepares our own hearts to serve others and to share the gospel.
Suggested Reading Matthew 9:35-38
Prayer Guidance Missional Prayer: Pray for your neighbors—the people that live right next door and down the street. Ask that God would bless them in every way, but particularly pray that they would come to worship and follow Jesus Christ.