by Nathan Hedt

Do you long to see your local congregation playing a vital role in growing God’s kingdom? Would you love to see new people coming to faith in Jesus through your local church? Do you sense the call of God to be more focused on reaching out beyond your church walls and programs into the community with the gospel?

If you answered ‘yes’ to even one of these questions, please read on. I know that these characteristics of a vibrant, thriving church can seem like a distant reality. We can all feel discouraged sometimes about having too little time, energy or know-how to play a role in the Great Commission with our faith family.

A congregational pastor contacted me recently lamenting the lack of a mission heart and asking questions like the ones above. ‘But where would we even begin if we wanted to become more outwardly focused?’ he asked.

I think my reply might have surprised him. It wasn’t about a new outreach program or mission group – or even about doing anything visible. It was about whether there were people praying for these things in the local congregation.

I’m convinced that the first step in vibrant, joyful mission is learning from what Jesus said in Luke 10:2. Mission doesn’t begin in action, getting out there and doing something. It begins in the heart of God. In Luke 10, Jesus sends out 72 local missionaries to proclaim the kingdom of God. He says to them in this passage, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few … so go!’

Hang on a minute! That’s an intentional misquote, isn’t it?

In fact, those words are more like what I would have said if I were Jesus: ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few. There’s no time to waste; get your skates on and get moving. There’s not many of you and there’s a lot of work to do! So GO!’

But what Jesus actually says is unexpected and surprising. ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few. So pray. Pray to the Lord of the harvest, beg him to send out workers into his harvest fields.’ The word he uses has the meaning of ‘plead with, beg, ask urgently’ for God to send out harvest workers.

The praying precedes the going. The command (and invitation) to pray precedes the command and invitation to go. Prayer is a vital foundation for mission.

One of the best definitions of prayer that I have heard comes from Queensland District Bishop Mark Vainikka: ‘Prayer is being present to the presence of God.’

Prayer comes first. In mission and in our life as Christians, prayer – as a relationship with God – is foundational to everything else we do.

By prayer, I don’t just mean laying a ‘shopping list’ of requests before God. Prayer is first and foremost about a relationship. Prayer is about being present to the presence of God, deepening the relationship of intimacy with the Father, conversing and listening to the Spirit, and walking with Jesus. In prayer, we receive a heart that beats in time with God’s heart of love for a lost and broken world.

Out of this intimacy with God will grow forms of prayer such as:

  • Worship: reverencing and adoring God for who he is
  • Petition: asking God to provide good gifts for his children and the world
  • Intercession: praying deeply for the needs of others and ‘standing in the gap’ for them
  • Thanksgiving: giving thanks and praise to God for his good gifts and what he has done
  • Confession: bringing our sins and failings in honesty before our loving and forgiving God
  • Repentance: a turning away from everything that breaks intimacy with God and brings harm to us or others and
  • Contemplative prayer (simply sitting silently enjoying the presence of God).

So, first, pray. Everything begins with prayer. As Paul wrote to the Colossian church: ‘Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful’ (Colossians 4:2).

Or, as we see the early church doing in Acts 2:42–47: ‘They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.’ And what was the result of this? ‘The Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved!’

In Acts 6:4 we hear the apostles saying, ‘… we will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word’.

 Talking about prayer can often lead us to feel guilty that our prayer life is not what it should be. It can be seen as a burden, just another thing we must do, especially when it comes to intercessory prayer.

But our life of prayer is not a demand – it’s an invitation! The Triune God graciously invites us deeper into his life, his heart, his love, his joy, his peace. Remember that prayer is primarily about relationship, not about doing things! God meets you where you are at in prayer! Jesus is interceding for you! The Holy Spirit is translating your perhaps fumbling attempts at prayer! The Father’s heart rejoices to have you bask in his presence!

Truly, if you dwell in God’s presence in faith, you can’t get prayer ‘wrong’.

Like all relationships, prayer requires an investment of time. Jesus often withdrew from his ministry among the crowds to pray – that is, to dwell in the presence of his heavenly Father. Prayer can involve specific action – perhaps putting petitions, intercessions, repentance etc, in words to God, silently or spoken aloud; or putting aside time for these aspects of prayer. But this is action that comes out of identity. It is doing that comes out of being.


In this spirit of invitation deeper into the life and joy of God, the Local Mission department calls the LCANZ to a specific and intentional annual Season of Prayer.

We invite you and your congregation to join the Season of Prayer, and to pray specifically for spiritual revival, hope and joy in our church, for the mission call of our local congregations, for new people to come to see Jesus, and for God to raise up and send out harvest workers into the plentiful fields of people in Australia and New Zealand who don’t know Jesus yet.

The Season of Prayer is set aside for two weeks from 10 to 24 September. However, our hope and prayer is that this will be a catalyst for an ongoing life of deepening prayer in our churches.

Some people may be moved by the Holy Spirit to take up the spiritual discipline of fasting along with the season of prayer. Some may want to get together with others to intercede specifically for their congregation and community. Some may want to use prayer resources in their family or small group. Some may take the invitation to pray alone. And you can read individual reflections shared on these pages.

Resources are being provided for various aspects of the Season of Prayer, including material to be used in public worship on the three Sundays of the season.

Testimonies and encouragements will come from real people who have experienced the power of prayer in real ways. Themed devotional resources are also being made available for families and individuals and others themed on intercessory prayer will be offered aimed at congregations and communities who are praying for God to send harvest workers and that they themselves will be revived and refreshed and joyful in their mission.

You can find these at

Pastor Nathan Hedt is LCANZ Pastor for New and Renewing Churches.

For more information, contact Local Mission on 08 8267 7300 or at 

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