David Platt, former President of the SBC International Mission Board
Acts 13 and 14 communicate one of the most pivotal stories in all of missions history. They relay the first recorded sending of missionaries by a local church in Scripture. Paul and Barnabas were commissioned for their particular task in a worship service, complete with singing, prayer, fasting, and the laying on of hands.
Pastor John Piper claimed of this passage, “This moment of prayer and fasting resulted in a missions movement that would make Christianity the dominant religion of the Roman Empire within two- and-a-half centuries and would yield 1.3 billion adherents of the Christian religion today with a Christian witness in virtually every country of the world.”
The people in that room in Antioch were together for a particular reason. They were not all the same, but they found themselves agreeing on a common purpose: they were united by the gospel of God, enthralled in the worship of God, and intensely focused on the mission of God. In that moment, the Spirit called out two men to be sent out, and the church responded with immediate obedience. The synergy between the call of the Spirit and the prayerful response of the church resulted in a supernatural spread of the gospel that continues to this day.
The Spirit and the church sent Paul and Barnabas—the whole church, not simply a few people. The church demonstrated a commitment to upholding those they sent out, even when separated by time and distance. Essentially, the church said to the missionaries, “We are with you.” Remarkably, the primary manner they did so was through Spirit-empowered prayer.
Today, our prayers remain the greatest way we can support those we are sending out, invoking the very power of God to intervene in ways that are beyond our human limitations to save the lost. So, I’d like to lay out sixteen ways over the next two days what
I see in this passage of Scripture to pray for our missionaries continually.
Lord, give me a heart to pray for the nations and those servants You have sent to be a light for the Gospel.
Pray that I can take part by praying for them, supporting them, and serving them.