I am sad to admit that I am not always very spiritually sensitive. As a result, prayer often gets neglected. Cathi Lundy, who served as our board chair for a number of years, was of great assistance in this regard, always remembering to bring prayer into our meetings and planning.
However, over the years, as visits to the field have become more routine, prayer has often been forgotten. Every once in awhile, when our church sends out a short-term team to another ministry and supporting prayer teams are organized, I feel a sense of conviction, and remember how important that preparation was to my early travel.
As I wrote last week, my recent trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo was one of the most amazing trips I have taken in years. It is probably no coincidence that prayer played a big part in the trip preparation.
It wasn’t particularly part of my preparation. But when I arrived in Congo, Birori, our local director, told me that a group had been praying for our visit for weeks. The last night we were in Congo, he invited us to his home for dinner and to meet his wife and the prayer team.
As we were introduced, he explained to us that they were neighbors from many churches that he had gathered around him nearly a year ago, when he was first considering the position with Plant With Purpose. They had prayed for him and for the pilot project, and then the communities we would be working in. They had prayed for safety for the staff and for openness on the part of the villagers. They prayed for the success of the savings groups and farm experiments. Once Birori began working with us, they began to pray for the other countries and projects as well. On a monthly basis they had received prayer requests from Haiti, the Dominican Republic and other Plant With Purpose partners, and spent time together in fervent prayer for these brothers and sisters whom they had never met.
When they learned of our planned visit, they began to pray for the trip and for the safety and health of each of the four of us, by name. One young man, who works as the night watchman at the local office, had spent an entire day fasting and praying for the trip before we arrived.
After an expansive dinner with the group, we closed our time together with prayer and worship (which includes both singing and dancing). They assured us that they would continue praying for Plant With Purpose Congo and for all our partners. They also stressed that their prayers were not just for our existing programs but also that we would grow to serve many more countries. As we walked back to the guesthouse, I was filled with gratitude and challenged to examine the role of prayer in my own life and ministry.
By the way, if you are interested in joining us, we send out a monthly prayer letter with input gathered from our office and from all seven of our partners. We set aside part of the first Friday of each month in every office around the world to pray for one another and we would love to have you join us. Just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask for the prayer letter.