Contours of a Great Commission Resurgence, Part 21: The Role of Prayer

Contours of a Great Commission Resurgence is a series of articles by faculty of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary that seeks to offer some definitions of what constitutes a GCR, why we believe the SBC is in need of such a movement, and what such a movement might look like in SBC life. The series addresses biblical, theological, historical and practical issues related to a GCR with the hope that God will use our finite and flawed efforts for His glory and the good of the people called Southern Baptist. The author of this post is Amanda Aucoin, who serves as adjunctive professor of history at Southeastern Seminary, where she primarily teaches courses in the undergraduate program. Dr. Aucoin is married to Brent, who serves as associate professor of history and associate dean of The College at Southeastern. The Aucoins are members of the First Baptist Church of Durham, NC.


The Role of Prayer in a Great Commission Resurgence

By Amanda Aucoin

When first approaching this topic, I wondered whether or not I could adequately assign a “role” to prayer. When taken a certain way, saying that prayer plays a role in Great Commission work is like saying that a mother plays a role in childbirth. That is, it’s a bit of an understatement. It seemed to relegate the intercession of the saints to a position of importance somewhere around tithing, which also plays a role in the Great Commission. After giving it further thought, though, I determined a different perspective. As Oswald Chambers said, “Prayer does not fit us for the greater work, prayer is the greater work.”

Do we as Southern Baptists recognize the preeminent place of prayer in bringing the gospel to the nations? Taking even a brief look at Baptist life, it would seem we do. The terms “prayer meeting” and “corporate prayer” ring familiar to us. Speaking only partly in jest, I can think of no surer mark of a Southern Baptist family than missionary prayer cards on the refrigerator. These pictorial reminders to pray for a family we may or may not know in some part of the world we may or may not be able to locate on the map sometimes get lost in the mix of appointment reminders and pictures of family and children’s artwork. But our intentions are evident. We intend in the midst of our busy lives to pray for missionaries.

And there are lots of helps available to us in this area as well. Resources exist to aid churches in developing a Great Commission prayer ministry complete with strategy booklets and ideas on making prayer more foundational in our churches. North Carolina Baptists will hold a Great Commission Prayer Conference for both ministers and laymen in just a few weeks. Without even mentioning the number of books that have been published to help us focus our prayer, it is clear Southern Baptists do not relegate supplication to the sideline of ministry. This is a good thing, and we would all do well to avail ourselves of these aids when building a prayer life or energizing one that’s grown cold.

A.W. Pink said prayer is not so much an act as it is an attitude-an attitude of dependence on God. Yet is our utter dependency on He who wills, whether we recognize it or not, evident in the way we as individual believers pray for a Great Commission Resurgence? It’s so easy, even ritualistic, to pray that God’s will be done in this or that area. There is nothing wrong with making a habit of asking for this, so long as we continue to mean it. The fact is, if we believe in a God that is sovereign and omnipotent, then we approach prayer from the belief that His plans will come to pass. He will bring His people into His church in His time using the means of His choosing. We needn’t pray as though we are trying to persuade God to bring about His kingdom and glory on this earth. To paraphrase my college students, God is “all about” His own glory. Our role is to pray that He would change us, that He would give us willing hearts to do the wonderful but sometimes hard work of taking the gospel to the nations.

In II Timothy 1:9, Paul calls on us to join with him in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God who “has saved us and called us to a holy life-not because of anything we have done, but because of his own purpose and grace.” We should seek this holy calling, through prayer, and ask the God of mercy to anoint our efforts and our missionaries with the power of His Spirit, to open the eyes of the lost.

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