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July Activate Post: Going all in without going all over


"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth,” Jesus said to the disciples. (Acts 1:8, NIV) Then He sent them to a prayer meeting to await that power.

Since its earliest days, the mission of Jesus has relied on empowerment from the Holy Spirt, and that empowerment has always been connected to the prayer life of the saints. Jesus indicated that all of His disciples would be part of the global witness, but the specific role of each disciple varies from person to person. Some are called to serve cross-culturally, witnessing for Jesus in far off lands. Others may be called to “go all in for the mission of Jesus without going all over.” Many times, this stay-at-home calling involves missional prayer warriors.

One of the most powerful mission outposts I’ve ever encountered is located in the humble kitchen of a farmhouse near Clay Center, Kansas. At 90 years old, Elma Claire, the matriarch of this home, may have slowed down a bit, but her daily routine has remained the same—she prays for missionaries.

Elma Claire’s refrigerator is covered from top to bottom with missionary prayer cards and photos. Any visit to her home is sure to be filled with stories from these missionaries. She knows their lives, prayer needs, challenges, and successes. She knows them because she prays for them. Every day. There is no telling how much kingdom power has resulted from the faithful prayers of this righteous woman. One missionary said to me recently, “One of the happiest days of my ministry was when my prayer card finally made it to Elma Claire’s refrigerator!”

Many missionaries invite believers to join their prayer support team, and many people agree to pray. What has made Elma Claire’s prayer ministry so extraordinary and important is the ongoing connection she maintains with the missionaries and the faithfulness of her daily prayers. Through the years she has not only supported dozens of missionaries financially, she has also read their letters from the field, reached out to them on significant occasions, shared their stories with her Sunday School class and her church, and hosted them in her home when they were in the area.

Elma Claire has listened to their stories, learned the names and stories of their children, and entered into the struggles and victories of these families across the world. Thus, her daily prayers include so much more than simply tacking, “God bless the missionaries around the world,” onto the end. Her prayers are personal, specific, ongoing, and relationally based. And they are effective, empowering and encouraging those who are the focus of the prayers: “her” missionaries.

The beauty of Elma Claire’s approach is that any believer, anywhere, can have this kind of powerful ministry. If you too would like to go all in, without going all over, here are some practical steps you can take:

  • Ask the Lord to direct you to specific missions and missionaries for whom you can commit to pray.
  • Learn the stories of these people. Stay engaged. Read their newsletters and prayer letters. Pay attention to their prayer needs, even seek them out.
  • Tell their stories to family, friends, and fellow church members. Help to introduce them and their mission to others.
  • Reach out to the missionaries on special occasions, in special seasons, and sometimes even for no special reason at all.
  • Take advantage of opportunities to meet your mission partners virtually or in person.
  • And pray! Pray faithfully, regularly, and specifically. Remember that in doing so you are changing the world, one prayer at a time.

Max Wilkins is the president and CEO of TMS Global.