We Can Only See Through Our Eyes, but Prayer Helps Us See from the Lord
Wang Jianguo is the collective pseudonym for a group of Chinese house church pastors thinking about writing about issues related to the spread of Christianity in their nation. They are committed to preaching a grace-centered gospel, developing resources for the church, and loving China’s urban centers. This post comes from a pastor’s wife in Nanjing as she reflects on the importance of prayer in her own life and in the life of her church.
Every Sunday gathering our church prays a lot. During worship, we have an emcee lead the whole process. It is a lot of meditation and praying over verses. We sing songs together, and we pray several times. We have several different small groups gather.
People in our church who have a special burden for prayer also gather to have an online prayer meeting every day. In the morning, there is a 45-minute prayer time before people go to work or study. It’s optional, but in this way people who want to pray together can gather online. We bought an online room so we can all go into the same [virtual] room to pray. There is another evening prayer time people can join to pray for the church, for China, or for other countries as well.
We are planning a missions prayer group. We want to challenge people who have a special burden for missions to make a small group to pray for missions, and carry on that burden to pass it to other people. Our church leaders get together once a week and pray: for our team, for church planting, whatever God is putting in our hearts that week.
I feel like our church really, really needs to learn how to pray, and how to teach the importance and priority of prayer. We need to grow in that area a lot. You can pray for us – that we will grow in this area.
Prayer meetings are good, but you cannot force people to pray. Even if they join a prayer meeting, if their heart is away from the Lord or from each other, prayer is [just] a show. It [should] not be something you do to tell others: I am a good Christian. It is more than that.
I like to talk with and counsel people. But I am praying while I counsel them. Sometimes, God will show me things totally not from my original thoughts. I will share with them what I communicated with God while I was talking with them. That way, I am teaching prayer. You are not praying with God only, you are talking with people at the same time you are praying. You are communicating with God, and you listen to God. You use what you learn from the Lord to apply to other people’s lives.
I will give an example. There is one sister who came to me who wanted to talk about joining a mission trip. I said, “Okay.” But once she came, her mood was very strange. She looked sad, and not focused on the topic. So I prayed with her and in my heart, continually thinking and praying to the Lord about what was happening. And I felt that God told me, “[Missions] is not her issue. She is running away from herself.”
So I told her that. I said, “I could be totally wrong, but I feel like you are running away from yourself. I feel like you have other issues you want to talk about with me. What is it?” She said, “You are right. I don’t know how you know this, but you are right.”
But she could not talk. She was too burdened. We prayed a little bit more. I waited. I prayed to the Lord. I said, “God, give her the courage to share.” But she could not continue. I waited about an hour. I felt God tell me, “Hang in there. She needs your company, and she needs the courage. You have to wait.” If it had just been me, I would have given up. But the Lord just let me pat her, and pray for her, and patiently wait for her. And finally, she told me the thing she really wanted to share.
She said three weeks ago something started to burden her so much, but she did not want to share and she did not know how to share. She told the Lord, “There is no possibility I will share this with anyone. I will die and I will not share it.” She wanted to run away from herself. She said, “I will go to another place and not face this.” On the subway as she was coming to me, she finally gave up. She prayed, “Okay, since you are God and you know everything, I pray that you do it yourself. I won’t tell anyone. You find a way to let it out. I won’t say it.”
It was me, then. I said it. While she was silent, I felt God finally tell me what her problem was. So it was very weird, but I asked her, “Do you have [this problem]? Is it this that you’re worrying about? Did [this thing] happen to you?” She was amazed. Out of millions of possibilities, I said the one thing she was afraid of telling me. It must have been the Lord. She was so surprised her prayer was answered.
Prayer is communication between you and God. You have to be attentive, and God can do anything through prayer.
Although it was hard for her and the waiting was hard for me, it was worth it. It built my faith and her faith. Even though she was stubborn and felt ashamed, she knows God knows her heart. She can trust the Lord that, even though she is stubborn, he loves her and is patient with her. Through prayer, people can be connected. It is amazing.
I rarely think about why Chinese people should pray for America. But America is also in the world. America is, in a lot of areas, leading the world in various directions. We definitely need to pray for America: to not fall apart, to not spiritually decay. We can pray for you.
I rarely think from this perspective. It’s almost like, “Oh they [in America] are great. They have so many good churches. So many good people pray for China and the world. They do not need prayer. They send missionaries. They are strong, they are blessed.” And it is true in a sense, but at the same time they also need prayer.
There are a lot of wonderful stories and I see a lot of good examples of how people in America pray for us. Prayer moved different groups of people to come to China and do missions. Action [is not the only important thing], but loving people through prayer is also important.
We can only see through our eyes, but prayer helps us see from the Lord how he loves not only one nation, but he wants us to love the neighbor far away. There is no way you can, through your own eyes, see another country. You can only see your neighbor, next door. But God also wants you to love the neighbor you can [only] fly to. The same way, Chinese people need to know that not only China is in God’s eyes and heart. We must love people, the whole country, and the whole world.