Does God pray? I believe He does. If prayer is defined as a conversation with God, then His response back to us must be part of prayer. In fact, I would argue that when God said “Let there be light” (Gen 1:3) God was uttering His first prayer. Of course, in this sense prayer refers to God revealing His intentions, not his dependency on another deity or His creation.
Simply put, God’s mission manifests itself in the world through and as prayer.
God’s missions is His prayer. His mission is founded in His very nature. “God is Love” says St. John (1 John 4:8b) and thus His mission is rooted in love (1 Cor 13) which is fundamentally patient. As 2 Peter 3:9 tells us: “9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”
It’s a good thing things are built this way, we all need some patience when it comes to restoration. And if God is partnering with us, He needs A LOT of patience. Since our salvation and restoration are dependent on coming to a certain knowledge of the truth, patience is essential. 1 Tim 2:4 tell us that “[God] desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
God creates a vehicle to spread this truth, known as the church. The mission of the church is outline in the Gospel of Matthew, a passage well known as the Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you”.
God’s mission starts and ends with prayer. It beings as prayer and transforms into action:
22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. (James 1:22-25)
So important is it that prayer turns into acton, that James writes that faith without works is dead.
14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good[a] is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead. (James 2:14-26)
It begins and ends with a community of people composed of individuals, indeed, even our Lord Jesus Christ, had to withdraw from time to time to commune with the Father.
The missions starts as one of creation and then quickly becomes one of restoration. The scriptures are saturated with prayer and even include an entire book of prayers, known as the Psalms.
The prayer of God started everything. The prayer of God continues everything. The prayer of God seeks the restoration of all people to him (even if ultimately, all may not be saved). We are to be a “house of prayer” It is the churches job to join with God’s prayer and to work to spread His love and work for restoration and reconciliation of all.
This article is part of a MennoNerds Synchro-Blog on Missional Spirituality for the month of February.
MennoNerds is exploring through this event Spirituality through an Anabaptist lens and what it means concerning participation in the mission of God.