If you have the Mark of Faith on your life then no doubt somebody was praying for you long before you knew Jesus. There are just too many stories of people who were supported with prayer long before they achieved greatness to believe that nobody was and is praying for you. Who was praying that God would touch you long before you even knew God? Who was praying for your ministry long before you started in your ministry? The prayers of the previous generation have influenced this generation more than we could ever understand, but believe me when I tell you that somebody was praying for you.
We even see this principle in John’s gospel with the story of Nathaniel, read John 1:43-51. Long before Nathaniel knows Jesus, Jesus knew and loved Nathaniel. It is in the conversation with his friends who have met Jesus that Nathaniel first hears about the Messiah from Nazareth. It is with the encouragement of his friends that Nathaniel overcomes his prejudice to go to see Jesus. It is this encounter that teaches us all that God knows us and loves us long before we come know God.
Recently I have heard a few stories from people who discovered that someone was praying for their mission years before they started their mission, here are just two:
- Archbishop Ben Kwashi – Ben Kwashi grew up in a church going family in Nigeria but rebelled against the faith for most of his teenage life. In the rebellious young adult years a man talked to him about Jesus and Ben was radically saved. In order to turn around his life he went back to his mother to share his conversion. His mother was pleased that he had turned his life around but couldn’t see Ben as a minister. So Ben went to his grand mother to tell her of his conversion. His grand mother listened and responded that she had been praying since his birth that he would enter into ministry. In the years before Ben was even a Christian there were people praying that he would become the great man of God that he is today.
- Matt Chandler – Matt was preaching to young adults in universities across America when the Highland Village church asked him to be their Senior Pastor. Matt thought the church needed a lot of changes so tried his best to turn down the job. After many meetings Matt took over the church of 150 people as their Senior Pastor. After he took on the job one of the key elders shared with Matt that he had been praying for 15 years that God would send a Senior Pastor who could grow the Highland Village Church to influence others. Today that Church reaches over 8,000 people in three campuses every sunday and over 50,000 people download Matt’s sermons every week.
Sure these are famous people and you might think that nobody is praying for you. Yet I doubt that any of us come to faith without someone praying for us before we even know who God is. Whilst I know that someone must have been praying for me I wonder who it was. Was it my grand mother went to church every week and who used to give me 20 cents every time we visited? Was it my mother who took me to Church every Sunday, was it my father who taught me the value of reading the bible? Was it a De La Salle brother who encouraged me to think about religious life in Year 7? Who else would have been praying for me?
So who was praying for you?
- Parents: most parents pray over their kids when they are babies, even if they aren’t that Christian. Almost every parents wants a great life for their child and God listens to those prayers.
- Teachers: did you have a special teacher who looked after you? did you have a teacher who encouraged you to learn and discover more? God values teachers and uses them to build us up to enter the mission of Christ.
- Friends: that friend of yours who was a Christian was probably praying for you long before you became a Christian.
- The Previous Generation – whilst we might not appreciate the older generation in our church today, they have been faithfully praying for this generation to continue the work of Christ through the Church.
So who are you praying for? Do you pray for the next generation as much as the previous generation prayed for you? If we slip in our understanding of this concept then we can start to think that it was our effort that saved us. We can start to think it is our effort that makes our ministry grow not the prayers of others. We can start to believe that God and I are alone in the task of building the Church and we forget that people help us through prayer as much as time or finance.
So thank those who prayed for you and please pray for the next generation to be stronger, even bolder and more passionate than we are.
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