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Persevering in Prayer

“Prayer does not equip us for greater works — prayer is the greater work … When you labour at prayer, from God’s perspective there are always results. What an astonishment it will be to see, once the veil is finally lifted, all the souls that have been reaped by you, simply because you have been in the habit of taking your orders from Jesus Christ.”
– Oswald Chambers

Prayer is the greater work. This is what Matthew, a Covenanter serving in the prayer initiative for Bless the Migrant Worker (BMW), has come to experience for himself.

At 12pm every first Wednesday of the month, Matthew faithfully opens his computer and logs on to Zoom. He signs in to the monthly prayer gathering, ready to lift up the needs of migrant workers together with other believers.

“It’s good that we set a specific time to pray,” Matthew told me. This is time set aside to be intentional, time committed specifically for prayer. “At 12, I drop everything and Zoom in to pray for our migrant worker brothers. There’s no negotiation at all.”

This unwavering commitment to prayer for others is part of the longer discipleship journey. As Matthew recounted his story of how he joined the prayer initiative, it became clear that his involvement is itself an answer to an earlier prayer.

Unexpected Call

Matthew’s journey towards a deeper prayer life intensified last year, at the start of Circuit Breaker. A while back, he had felt a burden to pray for a specific people group and had begun fasting for them. At the same time, he had been praying for growth in his prayer life.

One day, he received an unexpected call from a CG-mate who asked him if he would be keen to join the prayer initiative to pray for the needs of migrant workers. Gladly taking the opportunity up as an assignment from God, Matthew began to dial in everyday to meet and pray with other believers. When he realised that this is the people group he had felt a burden for, it was an even stronger confirmation to him that he had been called to serve. All the dots connected together as he realised that God has been leading him in this growth journey.

Loving the Needy

How is he able to constantly have love for people he has never met, even through a screen? “It doesn’t come naturally,” Matthew reflected, “It’s more like seeing them through God’s eyes. Jesus died for the whole world, including the migrant workers. God forgave me, and also the migrant workers. Through God’s heart we are able to feel His compassion upon these people. And so I can feel compassion for them.”

As Matthew continued to serve faithfully through the months, his empathy for the workers grew, till he was able to identify with their needs and even feel a sense of kinship with them, “Through prayer we are able to empathise with their plight. This is an area I learned — to be more sensitive to the needs of people who are not related to me.”

Faceless Warriors, but Known to God

It is often easier to kick-start a discipline but much harder to persevere through, especially without visible reward. What is it that compels Matthew to persevere? “I believe whatever we pray to God, He hears, and in His sovereign will fulfils His purposes. Whether the migrant workers are touched or not, appreciate us or not, know me or not, my commitment is to God and I will say yes to Him no matter what His leading,” he shares. While Matthew may be labouring behind the scenes, unknown by those whom he prays for, he recognises God’s purposes will always prevail. Therefore, he continues in faith and releases the outcomes of his prayers to God.

As the COVID-19 situation progresses, the ministry has since moved from gathering for prayer daily to once a month. But the growth in Matthew’s prayer life continues, along with the deeper lessons learned. Recently, he has even begun to lead some of the prayer sessions. “It is another level to grow in in my prayer life,” sharing why he welcomed the invitation to do so. With joy, Matthew recounted that quite a few migrant workers have since come to embrace the source of hope. “This is the greatest reward,” said Matthew with a smile.

All these starting from a simple commitment to pray at home.

If you are interested to be part of the prayer initiative for migrant workers, please email [email protected]


Yona Lu

Yona Lu worships at Woodlands Centre. She is an Organisational Development practitioner in the Public Service.

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Daily Devo

Daily Devotional Journal

Scripture:
Jonah 1:4-16; Psalm 86:11
Tue, 25 January 2022

The Fearful Men

Observation:

How did the sailors’ fear change from verse 5 to verse 16?

Deeper Reflection
THE NARRATIVE OF THE STORM AND SAILORS IS FULL OF irony and comedy. Picture the drama. The seasoned mariners were scared out of their wits (v.5). In an utter frenzy, they dumped cargo, desperately trying to save themselves. In contrast, Jonah the rebellious prophet was oblivious to the danger, sleeping in the bowels of the ship. The mariners were frantically calling out to their gods. But the prophet of the LORD was asleep. And so the flabbergasted captain came to Jonah and commanded him, “Arise, call out to your god!” (v.6). This is a parody of the divine command that Jonah rejected: arise,…and call out against Nineveh (Jon 1:2).65 After an exercise of lot-casting to determine who is responsible for the disaster, the sailors discovered that it is Jonah, who then disclosed, “I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land” (v.9). Jonah’s talk about “fear” must have sounded incredibly hollow to the sailors who knew about his wilful rebellion!66 It was them, and not the LORD’s prophet, who understood the gravity of what Jonah had done (v.10). Another irony of the story is that because of Jonah’s irreverence, the sailors came to genuinely revere his God (v.16). How about us? Are we like Jonah, professing to fear God but treating God flippantly? Pastor Timothy Keller defines the fear of the Lord as being “overwhelmed with wonder before the greatness of God and His love”67. Let us ask the LORD for an undivided heart that truly fears His name (Psa 86:11).
65 D. J. Wiseman, T. D. Alexander, and B. K. Waltke, Obadiah, Jonah, and Micah, Tyndale Old Testament commentaries v. 26 66 Ibid., 116. 67 Timothy Keller and Kathy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage (New York: Dutton, 2011), 68.
Application:

What does the fear of the Lord mean to me and how does it impact the way I live?

Prayer:
Write a prayer to God as your response from your meditation on and application of the Scriptures.
Prayer Pointers:
  • Give thanks and praise
  • Pray for pastors and staff: That they will have an undivided heart that fears the name of the LORD (Psa 86:11)
  • Pray for significant people
  • Pray for those in need
  • Pray for self

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