The Spiritual Force Behind Giving
By James Bigelow
Missions entails giving others the opportunity to hear of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ and allowing them to have a chance to receive and accept the same blessings of the gospel as we have experienced. It means that we who enjoy the benefits of the gospel want to give these same advantages and privileges to all of mankind – not only to those in our local “Jerusalem” – but to those in “the uttermost part of the earth,”
Prayer has a great deal to do with missions; it is its handmaid. The success of all real missionary effort is dependent on prayer. The life and spirit of missions are the life and spirit of prayer. Prayer and missions are bosom companions. Prayer creates and makes missions successful, while missions lean heavily on prayer.
The missionary movement is the church of Jesus Christ marching in militant array with the objective of possessing the whole world of mankind for Christ. A missionary spirit is ignited in the heart of every person when he or she is filled with the Spirit of God. This spirit is neither a secondary feature of the plan of salvation nor a mere passing phase of the gospel, but is its very life force. Even as a divine impulse consumed our Lord Jesus Christ, sending him out to seek and to save that which is lost, so he permeates the whole body of the church with the same burning zeal. The spiritual life of God’s people rises or falls with the rhythm of his heartbeat. Individuals or churches without a world vision are either dead or in the process of dying.
The craftiest wile of Satan, if he cannot convince men and women to ignore the call of God to evangelize every nation, is to weaken the missionary movement. If he can get us to prioritize the missionary movement and put the missionary spirit in the background, he will have thoroughly dissipated the effectiveness of that movement. Only mighty prayer will save the Foreign Missions Division of the UPCI from leaning on manpower and organizational ability instead of trusting God for the furtherance of the gospel.
The key to all missionary success is prayer and that key is in the hands of the home churches. The trophies won by Christ on the foreign field will be won by praying and prayed for missionaries, not by professional workers. The home church on her knees fasting and praying is the great base of the supply of the Spirit, the sinews of strength, and the surety of success in this dire and final conflict. Financial resources are not the real key to victory in this battle. Machinery in itself carries no power to break down heathen walls, open effectual doors and win the lost to Christ. Prayer alone can do the deed.
Just as Aaron and Hur secured victory for Israel through Moses, a praying church will ensure victory on foreign battlefields through Jesus Christ. It is as true overseas as it is in the homeland: the praying church wins the contest. The home church has done but a paltry thing establish missions and support her missionaries. Money is important, but money without prayer is powerless in the face of the darkness, wretchedness and sin in non-Christianized lands. Prayer-less giving cannot produce fruitfulness. Paltry praying at home produces poor results abroad. Prayer-less giving lies at the root of all crises in the missionary movement.
It is right for saints to give of their means to the missionary cause, but it is much more important for them to pray for missionaries. Foreign missions needs the power of prayer more than the power of money. Prayer can cause missionaries with a reduced budget to make mighty inroads, even amidst difficulties and hindrances. Much money without prayer, on the other hand, is helpless and powerless in the face of the utter darkness, sin, and wretchedness on the foreign field.
This is peculiarly a missionary age. The United Pentecostal Church is stirred as it has never been to make aggressive assaults upon pagan soil. The missionary movement has taken on proportions that awaken hope, kindle enthusiasm, and demand the attention, if not the interest, of the coldest and the most lifeless churches. Many of our Oregon congregations have caught the vision and the sails of their proposed faith promise giving are spread wide to catch the favoring breezes.
We have heard much eloquent and earnest preaching and teaching that stresses the imperative need of money for missions but few stressing the vital need of prayer. Whereas many plans and methods are geared to raising money, proportionate time and effort is not being made to quicken faith and promote prayer. The common idea among church leaders seems to be that if we get the money, the desired results will come as a matter of course. The very reverse is true: if we get the church at the business of praying, and thus recover the spiritual force behind successful missions, money will more than likely come as a matter of course. Spiritual duties and spiritual factors, however, left to the “matter of course,” will soon wither and die. The things that are emphasized live and rule in the spiritual realm. People who give will not necessarily pray. Many in our churches are liberal givers, yet are noted for their prayerlessness. One of the evils of the present-day missionary movement lies just there: giving is too often divorced from prayer. Giving by faith is becoming a thing of the past. Those who make faith promises, however, and pray earnestly for missionaries, will discover that God supplies the resources for them to give. Praying creates a giving spirit. Prayers will give liberally and sacrificially. He who enters his closet to God will open his purse to foreign missions.
This article “The Spiritual Force Behind Giving” by James Bigelow is excerpted from Apostolic Accent.