We asked three Jewish believers—on the mission field or in congregational service—to share some of their thoughts on the practical place of prayer in their ministries.
Peter Gittlen, with his wife Laura, is a member of Wycliffe Bible Translators. The Gittlens have been ministering in Mexico since 1982.
Being Bible translators with an indigenous people group is a lot like being missionaries to our Jewish people. We all need to overcome the suspicions of the people we seek to reach: “Who are these people? What do they really want? Are they trying to change our customs and religion? What chutzpah!” (Well, indigenous people may not exactly be making that last statement!).
In our situation we work hard to overcome reservations by being the first outsiders to learn the people’s language and learning to act more like insiders. But prayer is our main means of conquering misgivings and mistrust. Through prayer God sent us people who were willing to be seen with us, help us understand their culture, and teach us their language. Through prayer God made people who were used to farm work willing to sit at a desk for long periods of time while we strange foreigners asked simple questions over and over. Through prayer God has enabled us to build trust among a people who are generally closed to outsiders.
Martin Goldsmith has been a missionary to the Muslim world and has taught at All Nations Christian College in London. He is the author of Life’s Tapestry; Any Complaints? Blame God!; and Matthew and Mission: The Gospel through Jewish Eyes.
“As I have been praying, I feel that one of you is sick. So I am praying that God will send you a Christian doctor and that he will have the right medications for you.” So wrote old Mrs. Gilkes, my wife Elizabeth’s house-bound former landlady.
We were working as missionaries in Sumatra, Indonesia at that time. We had never told Mrs. Gilkes that we had only one doctor for our area’s large population. We were young and healthy normally, but in that tropical mountain plateau I suffered badly from asthma. Without sprays or medications I got worse and worse.
Amazingly, just at that time the government replaced our local non-Christian doctor with a fine Chinese Christian man. Before moving to Sumatra he packed a large suitcase with medicines, including some for respiratory problems. So God answered both points of Mrs. Gilkes’ prayer.
As Christian workers we have realized our great need for true supporters who will pray intimately for us, and will listen to God to know what they should pray for. Indeed, all of us need to learn to listen and to pray with faith.
Stuart Rothberg is one of the Teaching Pastors at Sagemont Church, Houston, Texas, online at http://www.sagemontchurch.org/
I have been trained as a minister. I studied theology (in fact, I was assisted in going to seminary by Jews for Jesus). I know that God knows everything. If that’s the case . . . then why pray?
I’ve learned that the primary purpose of prayer is not to inform God; it is to do life together with God. Ministry is potentially all-consuming. When I commune with God in prayer, I’m reminded that he is more concerned with me, the minister, than with my ministry.
Doing ministry apart from him has often left me overwhelmed. At those times, I can almost hear him say “I miss my time with you.” When I pray, I “remember to remember” my first love, the Lord Yeshua. Prayer means doing life and ministry together with God. Prayer is the opposite of doing things, even good ministry things, by myself. Prayer says, “I cannot live without you. I do not want to live without you. I want to experience life with you.” Prayer is romance with the Messiah.