After Twenty-five Years The Most Important Thing I Have Done

Written in April 2001

 

Ajith Fernando

 

In July I complete twenty-five happy years at my job in YFC. I thought I would share with you what I consider to be the most important thing that I have done during this period. I am not saying that I have done enough of it, but the little I have done has, I feel, been my most important activity. I am talking about prayer.

 

This is a case where my theology has challenged my natural inclination. I am an activist, and I don’t think I take to prayer naturally. After all these years I still have to work hard at disciplining myself to stop from busy activity in order to give time to prayer. Even after that, sometimes it may take me as long as 15 minutes to shift gears from the “activity mode” to the “prayer mode.” But my theology tells me this is the most important thing I do, so whether I feel like it or not, I have to do it.

 

Like all good theology the theology that tells me that prayer is so important is derived from the Bible. Let me mention a few points.

 

In recent times I have been reflecting much on the idea that prayer is one of the surest means of preventing burnout in the ministry. I have thought a lot about this as many have told me recently that the schedule I keep makes me a prime candidate for burnout. I suppose the jury is not in on this yet. Perhaps in 15 years from now I will be able to speak with more confidence on this issue. But I do believe that time spent daily lingering in the presence of God is a great antidote to burnout and other ill effects of stress and hard work. Here are some reasons for that belief.

 

 

So our time spent with God each day becomes the most refreshing thing that we do. Such freshness attacks those triggers of burnout that often accompany the stresses and strains of costly ministry.

 

Recently there has been a welcome rediscovery of the importance of corporate worship. I think the time is ripe for a return to emphasising the importance of our personal time alone with God.

 

I need to say two more things. Firstly, like Timothy, I have been blessed with a grandmother and mother who were women of faith (2 Tim. 1:5). As a child, seeing them praying first impressed on me the importance of prayer. May our generation also pass on such a legacy to the next!

 

Secondly, if my theology says that prayer is a vitally important activity for me, then it follows that your prayers for us are also a vital aspect of our ministry. Describing his imprisonment, Paul said, “I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance” (Phil. 1:19). So important are the prayers of the saints that they are placed alongside the help that the Spirit gives! Elsewhere Paul says, “…you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favour granted us in answer to the prayers of many.” With Paul I can say that the blessings God has given to us has been in answer to your prayers. Thank you!