By Laura Roberts
For Pioneer Bible Translators, “prayer is strategy”. My professor at Johnson University, the late Bob Martin, had a lot to say about prayer in his book, God Our Father.
- Prayer is essential in any effective ministry. (Luke 11:1, Martin, p. 176)
“Teach us to pray” is the only thing the disciples ever asked Jesus to teach them. Nor should it be otherwise for us! For whatever our ministry, the resources of its fulfillment depend entirely upon a personal and meaningful relationship with God.
- Prayer is more about cultivating a relationship than getting our requests answered. (1 John 5:14-15, Martin p. 177)
. . .Prayer finds its ultimate fulfillment, not in receiving, but in securing and sustaining us in our relationship with God, whose identity as “the Word” (Jn. 1:1-3) “speaks” of a Creator God who desires that communication that communication or conversation alone makes possible. . . .As such, prayer can never be said to be in vain, for, within the context of our relationship with Him, God will either give with Himself the answer for which we have prayed or He will Himself be our sufficiency in lieu of its answer (2 Cor. 12:7-10).
- Prayer is about us showing God that we know we must depend on Him. (Matthew 6:8, Martin, p. 183)
[The] practice [of prayer] is intended to secure and sustain us in our relationship with Him. As such, prayer becomes an expression of wanting Him and needing Him . . .We are to pray, therefore, not simply to get something from God, but to cultivate a dependence upon God.
- Delayed response to our prayers sometimes is God’s way of showing us the strength of our faith. (James 1:2-4, Martin, p. 187)
To encounter God’s silence following our prayers may be His way of testing our faith, for we are sometimes tested, not that God might know the measure of our faith, but that we might know. Will we keep on praying, believing that God hears and answers prayer . . . even though His silence is His only response?
Yes, prayer is an essential part of PBT. It has to be, because in everything we do, our ultimate God is to help people cultivate strong relationships with Jesus. Everything else is just a means to this end.
Laura Roberts is a Teacher for Missionary Kids at Ukarumpa International School.