By Gayla Parker, BCM/D WMU Executive Director, Missionary for Missions Education and Customization, Missions Innovator Specialist (WMU, SBC)
“Hey God! You are really nice. Thanks for the food. Yea God!” prayed a little boy before dinner. It is not as graceful as the Lord’s Prayer, but it gets the point across: acknowledgement of God, recognizing attributes of God, giving thanks, and praising God. All things that say, “I Love You!”
When Jesus prayed the Lord’s Prayer He was teaching us some things about God’s desires and ways we can say “I Love You, Lord.”
Praise God: One of our purposes as we live out life on this planet is to bring praise to God. We all love it when someone tells others how great we are. We get all shy about it and try to deny the truth in it all. But somewhere down inside it feels good to know others think we are special.
God is the same. He loves watching us give praise to Him by the way we make choices and live our lives. He loves to hear us praise Him to others. It is part of our purpose. Praising God, in some ways, is missions involvement. As others watch and hear us praise God, it opens the door for the Holy Spirit to move in their lives. People get curious and want to know what it is all about.
God’s Desire: God’s desire is that all men might know Him. He desires that so much He sent His beloved son Jesus to the cross. Jesus desires it so much He was obedient to His father’s will and went to the cross. When Jesus said these words He was hoping we would catch on and make our desire the same. Reality is, if we do not tell others how to find eternal life, their eternity looks grim and time is of the essence.
While hiking the mountains of the Philippines one day my husband and his team had an encounter with a few bandits. Rather than rob the group the bandits decided to follow them to the village. As they walked they talked to the men about Jesus. One of the bandits said this, “We have one more place we want to rob. After that I will give it up and find you and give my life to Jesus. This last job will provide the money I need to take care of my family.” The police had heard about the job and were waiting. The bandit was killed. He did not have the time he thought he had. We may not have the time we think we have to share Christ with someone who is lost. That is why our desire for others to know Christ needs to be as passionate for us as it was for Christ.
God’s Provision: If there is one lesson I have learned over and over again provision would be it. God always provides. Just think about the loaves and fish (Mark 6:32-44). Doctors have miraculously appeared at just the right moment. Money has been provided in advance of a ministry need. Time has been provided through the cancellation of something else. That is God at work.
If we are worried about provision then we are doubting God’s ability to provide. Does He always provide? Yes! Is it always like we imagine? Almost never! But when we determine that God will provide then it is easy to say “yes” to His leading.
God’s Forgiveness: If there is anything that can block the lines to God it is unresolved anger. Forgiveness is tough, especially when we have been wronged. However, anger leads to a desire to get even and punish. Punishment is not our business, it is God’s business. Our business is forgiveness. When Jesus said we have to forgive seven times 70, He was including forgiving the same act over and over again. Every time we feel angry over something someone did last month, last year, last decade, we have to forgive them again. That keeps the communication lines free of “anger clog.”
God’s Guidance: God led the Israelites to the Promised Land, Abraham to the mountain of provision with Isaac, Joseph to high leadership, David to safety, and Jesus to the cross. Each time, God’s name was glorified before the lost. How did they know how to follow God? By following the steps of the Lord’s Prayer: 1. Praising God, it reminds us who He is and what He can do. 2. Passionate about God’s desire to save the lost. 3. Trusting in God’s provision. 4. Keeping communication lines open by preventing “anger clog.” 5. Avoiding the temptations that distract us from God.
Jesus kept it simple. Understanding missions, understanding life is really fairly simple. Just follow the example of the Lord’s Prayer.