Are things going easy for you in your life as a believer in Jesus? If they are too easy, you might be headed downhill. In the journey of faith, there is no such thing as “front sliding!” Easy coasting will only move you backward because moving forward takes effort.
There are two good ways to gauge your spiritual level. One is the degree of your involvement with Scripture. Do you spend more time in Scripture or less than you used to?
Perhaps an even better measure of your walk with the Lord is the frequency and direction of your prayer life. Do you pray often? When you pray, is it usually for “me, myself, and mine”? While that is better than not praying at all, it is “baby stuff,” for beginners. Mature prayer involves spiritually empowered petitions for world peace and for the conversion of those who sit in positions of power. God can use your prayers to change individuals and, through them, even world situations. Once you realize the power of prayer, you are headed in the right direction.
I could write about prayer in general, but since this is the Jews for Jesus Newsletter, I would like to be more specific. I would like to suggest petitions for this ministry as a way of learning how to pray efficaciously.
Know the person or circumstance for which you are praying. If you are a donor to Jews for Jesus, you receive personal communications (usually handwritten postcards) from various people on our staff. It is their hope, and mine as director, that as you see their names, you will come to know them and where they are serving and feel burdened to pray for them.
As you enter the presence of God and introduce individual Jews for Jesus by name before His throne, your prayers will help to anchor you and them in the faith. A spiritual bonding will begin between you and those missionaries. That spiritual link will then evoke even more heartfelt, earth-moving prayer as you see God’s answers to the petitions of His people.
If you can do no more than earnestly mention a specific person’s name to the Lord, it will still serve to strengthen that individual. In the true spiritual sense, your prayers will set you next to those for whom you pray in whatever they are doing. Whether they are frontline missionaries or much-needed behind-the-scenes administrative workers, you will enter into their labors for the Lord.
You might be praying for someone who operates a printing press in our production department where safety and accuracy are so important. In answer to your prayers, God will give that person an extra measure of alertness, a bit more stamina and above all, joy in the knowledge that he or she is serving Jesus.
You might be praying for missionaries who are going door to door on a canvass. Door-to-door ministry can be discouraging and lonely. It needs to be bathed in prayer. We approach about nineteen doors where people refuse to listen for every one door where someone will take a moment to hear what we want to tell them. Your prayers will give the missionaries a little more courage in those situations.
We usually send people out two by two, that they might pray for one another and give one another cheer. Yet sometimes it is just not possible to send along a second person. In such a case, your prayers are vital. They can give that lone missionary a sense of God’s presence.
You might think that this could only happen if the missionary knew you were praying. Not so. Somehow God makes Himself felt through the prayers of many. This has been the story of almost everyone on our staff in difficult situations. When they found unexpected inner reservoirs of courage, commitment and compassion, they knew that God had planted those feelings within them because someone was praying for them.
Your prayers will help us move in the power of the Holy Spirit. He is the protective envelope around us. He is also the fuel that propels us forward and the guide who compels us to go in certain directions where He has prepared the way.
People often ask, “What is the most important thing for me to pray about for the Jews for Jesus staff?” My answer is always, “Pray for our spiritual lives, that we might live in constant renewal. The vision, courage and commitment to do a difficult task all spring from a sense that God is the greater reality. Pray that we might be conscious of God and filled with His Spirit.” The Overseas Missionary Fellowship, which was originally founded in 1865 by J. Hudson Taylor as the China Inland Mission, has published an excellent pamphlet called “Why and How to Pray for Missionaries.” The first point is crucial:
The missionary is invading enemy territory. In most instances, Satan has held uncontested sway for centuries or even millenniums in the countries which we think of as “foreign mission fields.” As a result, the thinking of the people is twisted, and minds are blinded, and God’s truth does not penetrate easily. Satan does not meekly give up his prey. He counterattacks in... undreamed of ways. He fights to the last ditch. We are in the midst of a spiritual battle (Ephesians 6:10–18).
While Jews for Jesus has overseas branches, we may not be a “foreign mission” in the commonly understood sense of working among primitives. Yet basically the above certainly applies to Jewish evangelism. From the beginning, Satan has been at the Jews, trying to destroy them physically and blind them spiritually to the truth of salvation in Jesus.
We in gospel outreach to Jews encounter that spiritual battle daily. Our work is as lonely as that of any foreign missionary. At worst, many of us are utterly rejected by our families and loved ones. At best, we are tolerated but utterly misunderstood. Family is very important in our Jewish culture, so it is imperative that we maintain stability in the face of such rejection or misunderstanding. You who are God’s people are our new family in Christ. Your prayers and words of encouragement can help to provide us with that stability.
When you pray for us, please remember that we face a temptation that Gentile Christians may not encounter so often. For Jewish believers there sometimes arises a temptation toward doctrinal compromise. We know the many Scriptures that point to Jesus as the only way of salvation. Yet the thought of our ancestors and loved ones who have died without Christ sometimes tempts us to wish there could be another way. Pray that we will remain firm in our convictions that are based only on the truth of God’s Word.
Some Jewish believers in Yeshua also struggle with a problem of “ethnic pride.” In attempting to promote a sense of self-worth to counter anti-Semitism, our parents and religious teachers may have unintentionally inculcated the idea that being Jewish is “better.” We may have been led to imagine that somehow our Jewish family ties were closer, our heritage richer and our zest for life fuller than that of non-Jews. Well-meaning Gentile friends might try to affirm us in that way, but it is not what we need to hear. There is no room for pride in the Body.
God has concluded all under sin, and all people need to be saved. Our boasting must be only in the Lord, not in the flesh, nor in our heritage. We need to keep that knowledge in balance with self-respect. Pray that we might always remember that new life in Christ counts above all else and that no child of God is innately better than another brother or sister in the Lord.
After spiritual battles, another temptation that most missionaries face is in the area of self-discipline. Proper self-discipline and self-management are possibly the greatest difficulties a missionary faces. In general, they are trusted to organize their own time. This is a pitfall. Some will tend to overwork, overschedule and overcommit themselves. Others will be tempted to succumb to opposite extremes.
It pains me to admit that, but in asking for prayer I must. If I failed to mention the problem, you might not pray properly for us. Of course the self-discipline we all need is the self-control of the Fruit of the Spirit. Perhaps that is the best prayer for all of us – that we might be fruitful in spirit.
Jews for Jesus needs your fervent prayers. Our kind of intense evangelism challenges body and soul. We often encounter opposition on the streets – spitting, shoving, cursing and threats of imprisonment. Sometimes we are maligned in the press by those who choose to think evil of us. Yet it is all worthwhile when we consider that God will use our efforts to bring many into His Kingdom. It is all a bit lighter to bear when we know that you are out there praying for us. By God’s grace we will stand firm, and we pray that you, our prayer warrior friends, will also stand firm in bringing us before God’s throne.
The prayer warrior fights a constant, unending battle. It is a struggle of major proportions. Yet when victory comes, it is the greatest victory of all. As we serve Y’shua, we are seeing big victories in our own lives and in the lives of those to whom we are proclaiming the gospel. We are seeing victories in the hearts of many Jewish people as they find Jesus and experience real joy in serving Him. As prayer warriors, rejoice with us. When you pray, you not only bond with us in our hardships, but you also share all those victories!