We recently received word that all 41 of the men and women who were working with our organization in Asia have received the maximum sentence of 5 years in prison. We had been praying for them over the last several weeks, but to be honest with you, this wasn't exactly what we had been praying for. Now what do we do? I guess we have two options: 1) we could write it off as an unanswered prayer. Using the excuse that we don't know these people and we couldn't possibly know the mind of God for this situation. Or, 2) we could determine that the last few weeks have in a small way prepared us to lift them up in prayer for the next 5 years (260 weeks).
Was this what the missionary-turned-prisoner Paul meant when he scratched out the following words? ...pray... on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.... be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel... for which I am in chains... Ephesians 6:18-19 Our fast-paced, instant gratification society doesn't really have a category for a five-year prayer plan. I'm sure it was just as tough in Paul's days, otherwise he wouldn't have been urging the believers to do it. The challenge seems just as timely today as it was 1900 years ago.
"Always respond to every impulse to pray. The impulse to pray may come when you are reading or when you are battling with a text. I would make an absolute law of this – always obey such an impulse." ~Martyn Lloyd-Jones