“To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.” (2 Cor 12:7-8 NIV)
Like the apostle Paul, we all have our own thorns to bear. And some are more acute than others!
One of the thorns many of us face is “How can God use me for His kingdom?”
We feel the urge to fulfill the great commission: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” (Matt 28:19 NIV), and we envision becoming missionaries or lay pastors. Most often these aspirations never come to pass, as life seems to veer us in the opposite direction, and we continue to wonder, “How can I make a difference?”
We can keep on playing church. You know what I mean … Attend regularly, sing in the choir, lead out in small group ministry, but never once outside of the church building do we mention the name of the Lord. This will never really satisfy that need to fulfill the great commission either.
There was once when I found myself at my lowest, and I cried out to my Heavenly Daddy, “What would you like for me to do for you?”
Having been brought up in a closed environment where friendships were discouraged, I have always had a hard time relating with other people. It seems to me that those around me all have dissimilar interests to my own, and I feel quite clumsy reaching out to them.
God’s answer shocked me to the core. “I want you to become an online prayer warrior!”
“Me…a prayer warrior? But my prayers are dull compared to those that my church mates give! They know how to pray so beautifully!”
“Beauty is not everything,” was His answer. “It’s the heart that counts.”
For weeks I contemplated what God was suggesting for me, and I found myself discouraged on all sides. My fellow churchgoers told me this would be a waste of time. Christian webmasters informed me that it wouldn’t make a difference. I had no idea what to do. But how could God be wrong?
Right at that time we experienced a tremendous shock to our family. My beloved father-in-law had a sudden, unexpected heart attack and passed away. With tears in my eyes I came to God and told Him, “I am willing. Please guide me!”
And He did.
I started Answers2Prayer in 1998. I was all alone in this enterprise, humanly spoken, except for my Father’s loving guidance. The first step was to publish a newsletter. I had barely 20 subscribers initially, and I have to confess that discouragement loomed at every corner.
Oh how easy it is to give up such a commission when the tides of discouragement and trials hit us smack in the face! We tend to forget that God will provide and He is the only One who can do so! The devil sure rejoices when He succeeds in making God’s followers give up their ministry due to discouragement! But to those who forsake their ministry, calamity surely awaits!
I decided from day one, however, that I would trust in the Lord. And He came through every time!
Eventually God encouraged me to branch out and start accepting volunteers. This brought me to another dilemma: How could I branch out? I had no experience in this. Besides, where would I find such volunteers?
“I will provide them!” Was His loving answer.
As of now, Answers2Prayer has a total of 35 dedicated volunteers from the 4 corners of this world. Those who were once ministered to are now reaching out to those who are hurting and hungering for God. Some of them specialize in answering bible questions, some send free bible studies, some are prayer warriors, and others specialize in encouraging others.
With prayer being the only tool in our tool box, Answers2Prayer volunteers have experienced God directly: broken hearts are mended, the hungry are fed, the sick are healed, addicts find their freedom, demons are driven out, but most importantly God has become more real to each one of us.
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19 NIV)
It is true that some of the people we try to help don’t seem to progress. However some of them eventually start to discover that trusting God is a truly rewarding experience.
One of our volunteers recently exclaimed: “I always wanted to become a missionary. Now I am one right from my living room!”
God is real, but we won’t experience Him if we keep on sitting in our favourite pew. If you are looking for a real purpose in your life, why not experience God by answering His call? He has a special mission just for you. And quite possibly, it is to pray for other.
The results? This is how the apostle Paul described them:
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor 12:9 NIV)
“For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor 12:10 NIV)
We can transform the world only if we are truly weak (not full of ourselves) and if we rely solely on God for making our God-sized assignment possible.
Our prayers can make a difference! Be aware, though, that discouragement will hit you square on the face if you decide to accept God’s assignment for you. Just remember where it comes from, and rely on the One who has given you your commission. Only then will God be glorified through your weakness.
Be missionaries at heart and experience the love of our Heavenly Father! Our loving Father has a God-size mission especially for you as well.