I recently took a team of students on a spring break mission trip to Utah. The ministry there is extraordinarily difficult; the spiritual warfare is intense. The area we were in is the least-reached metropolitan area in the United States. It is so lost and unfamiliar of an area that it’s much like being in a foreign country.
Taking students outside the Bible belt is one of my main goals of spring break mission trips, and this destination is no exception. The evangelism and discipleship strategies that work in other parts of the country do not work here. Even after three trips to this area, I am struck by how differently they must do things to make an impact for the gospel.
Something I learned on this trip that I haven’t been able to get out of my head is an analogy that the local missionary gave us as he prepared us to go out on the streets. “If the gospel is the vehicle,” he said, “then think of prayer as the gasoline, the Holy Spirit as the driver, and you as the passenger.” This pastor, a friend of mine, put a lot of emphasis on prayer throughout the week. He approached it not as something extra we do before we walk out the door, but something crucial to our work before we do anything else.
When I began thinking of prayer as filling a gasoline tank, it changed the way I looked at sharing the gospel. If I am a willing passenger, and I have done the work of filling the tank with fuel, then I can trust that the Holy Spirit is going to drive me exactly where I need to go, and the gospel will be shared as a result.
This mindset has brought new life to the end of a semester, when usually we tire out and limp across the finish line. On a personal level, it has brought a new freshness to my prayer life. I came home from spring break convicted of prayerlessness. Perfunctory prayers, said out of obligation or routine, are not cutting it anymore.I must fuel up in the morning or risk missing what the Holy Spirit has for me that day, and I’m unwilling for that to happen if I can help it.
If I believe that Jesus is worth all the hard things I encounter in this life, then I owe it to Him to ready myself as much as possible for what He has for me. It begins and ends with prayer. I don’t just want to pray, I want to pray first.
Maybe it seems redundant to pray about my prayer life, but I’m doing it. I’m thirsty, and prayer is the only thing that satisfies.
“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” (Ephesians 1:17, NIV)
Corley Shumaker serves as Assistant Campus Minister at the Baptist Collegiate Ministry at Arkansas State University. She loves Red Wolves football, nail polish, and flowers. You can find her on Twitter at @corleycline.