Why pray? Why pray for VBS, (Vacation Bible School)? Will prayer make any difference; in us, our church, our community, our country or in the world? Does it really matter? “Of course, prayers matter. Evidently, God likes to be asked. Certainly, God does not need our wisdom or our knowledge, nor even the information contained in our prayers, but by inviting us into the partnership of creation, God also invites us into relationship. “…God does not merely have love or feel love. God IS love and cannot NOT love” (Yancey, 2006). Obviously, if you are reading these words you do agree; ‘prayers matter’.
As new Believers, we learn that prayer is communication, our ‘love language’ with the living, lovely God of the universe. And of course, this is true, but as we mature in Christ and learn to tabernacle with Him – the With-Us God, we discover that prayer is much more than casual conversation, it is our lifeline. We can do nothing without Him. “Fundamentally, [prayer] is a position; a placement of oneself…a declaration of dependence on God. …Our need drives us to Him. For it is in our asking and seeking in which we find infinitely satisfying” (Hampl, 1992). God is, after all the omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent Creator and we are the created who live in a world that is not only evil and beyond our own strength to endure, but also calls faith and Jesus Christ Himself into question. Therefore, prayer is an act of subversion that emboldens us to join the Spirit’s work of transforming ourselves and the world into a place where the Father’s will is accomplished on earth as it is in heaven.
Prayer sets God loose. And yet, we pray not to overcome God’s reluctance, we pray to lay hold of God’s highest willingness (Archbishop Trench, quoted by Donald Bloesh, 1980). We do not pray to a God of stone. We pray to a “…God [who] thirsts to be thirsted after. God’s heart is the most sensitive and tender of all. [God sees everything.] … No loving act goes unnoticed, no matter how insignificant or small. A cup of cold water is enough to bring tears to the eyes of [our] God. Like a proud mother who is thrilled to receive a wilted bouquet of dandelions from her child, so God celebrates our feeble expressions” (Foster, 1992). We pray because prayer is conduit for grace and love to work in the world and when we humble ourselves, mountains move, the impossible becomes reality and God surprises our socks off!
Why pray for VBS? Children are extremely receptive to the gospel and desire a relationship with God. Repeated studies demonstrate that children, more than any age group, are the most responsive to hearing the good news of Christ.
Tens of thousands of children come to Christ every summer because of VBS! Therefore, it is critical that God’s church strategically pray for the people whom God is drawing.
Henry Blackaby said it well when expounding on evangelism strategy, “Find out where the Master is… that is where you need to be. Find out what the Master is doing…that is what you need to be doing” (Experiencing God, 1990).
It is important to note that the battles children in the world face, are costly and fierce. Most communities in the world are greatly impacted by drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence and child abuse. We must demonstrate the love of God to children and families, lead them to our Savior and then, prepare them for the fight. Without prayer and God’s influence, our human efforts are hollow and weak. A friend of mine once said of prayer for missional work, “It is unthinkable that we would send thousands of missionaries overseas without covering them with a blast furnace of prayer” (Tom Eliff, 2008). Conversely, it is also inconceivable to launch a multitude of VBS clubs across domestic and international soil without prayer coverage. “We should pray like an [overzealous] salesman with his foot wedged in the door opening, like an [unstoppable] wrestler who has his opponent in a headlock and won’t let go” (Yancy, 2006). “Keep on asking and it will be given you; keep on seeking and you will find; keep on knocking reverently and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7). Let’s pray as if we were the tenacious widow in Luke 18 who wearied the judge while seeking justice. Interesting enough, the original word that is used in this scripture is hupopiazo, which literally means to repeatedly hit someone in the eye. Clearly, God wants us to pray persistently. So, will you become a VBS God-Wrestler? United in prayer, we can revolt against the world’s disorder refusing to resign ourselves to evil, injustice, and to a world without God.
“The earnest, heartfelt, persistent prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available – dynamic in its working.” Elijah was a human being with a nature such as we have – with feelings, affections, and constitution as ourselves; and he prayed earnestly for it not to rain, and no rain fell on the earth for three years and six months. And then he prayed again and the heavens supplied rain and the Land produced it’s crops as usual” (Amplified Bible James 5:16b-18).
VBS 2017 will greatly impact children and their families who live in Pennsylvania, the United States and throughout the world.