The vital importance of prayer in mission can be seen clearly from the early Church and the history of mission. In Acts 1:14 the disciples ‘all joined together constantly in prayer.’ This preceded the coming of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church. In Acts 2:42 the early Church ‘devoted themselves to…prayer.’ Indeed throughout the book of Acts, prayer is mentioned before every step in the growth and expansion of the early Church.
The history of missions also demonstrates this link between intercessory prayer and the progress of the gospel. In 1727, the Moravian community commenced a round-the-clock ‘prayer watch’ that continued nonstop for over a hundred years. By 1791, 65 years after that prayer vigil started, the small community had sent out 300 missionaries. Fervent intercession is a basic component in world evangelisation. Other examples include William Carey and the founding of the Baptist Missionary Society in 1792, and Hudson Taylor and the founding of China Inland Mission in 1865. Mission must have prayer in all of its plans, and prayer must precede, go with and follow all mission workers.
It has been a privilege to see how God has raised up a global prayer movement for DPRK (North Korea). OMF’s prayer focus came out of a burden for the spiritual and humanitarian needs of the people in DPRK when a severe famine started in 1995. The OMF South Korea team learnt about the desperate situation in the North through local news, and the work of Korean and foreign NGOs serving the millions who were suffering and dying. The team wanted more people outside the Korean Church to know about the situation and needs within DPRK, to see what God was doing, and to encourage more prayer for that nation.
And so in November 2001 the first issue of the ‘DPRK Prayer Bulletin’ was published. The bimonthly bulletin has two parts, an article on DPRK, and 31 days of prayer points. It was sent to about 15 people within OMF. As I write, the 99th issue (Mar-Apr 2018) has just been published and is being sent to over 2,500 global prayer partners. Presently, it is translated into Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Indonesian, German and Dutch. From humble beginnings, God continues to use the bulletin to touch the hearts of the many subscribers both within OMF and in the Christian Church worldwide who exercise an intercessory ministry for DPRK.
In November 2001, OMF also set up a group to oversee our DPRK focus and network with different interested parties. One of the first decisions made was to prepare a 31-day prayer guide to provide basic background information about DPRK. This was published in 2004. The prayer guide encourages many to learn more about DPRK and to intercede for DPRK for at least a month. As the situation within DPRK continues to change, a second edition and then a third edition were published in 2007 and 2012 respectively. These have also been translated into multiple languages.
In 2003, my wife and I returned to serve in Australia. The needs of DPRK were still very much in our hearts. It was our earnest prayer that God would gather those who had a deep burden for DPRK to meet to pray regularly and to learn together how we can serve this nation. In an amazing way, he brought four of us together for the first Prayer Group for DPRK in April 2005. We met at our home once every two months. By his grace, gradually, similar groups were formed in other capital cities, led by volunteers but supported by OMF personnel. Since then, we have witnessed the formation of more prayer groups across the world. These are small groups of faithful pray-ers ‘standing in the gap’ on behalf of DPRK.
This is a critical time for DPRK as it continues to face deepening humanitarian, social, economic and spiritual needs. Through prayer, we ask God to make himself known to the people, and to fill the hearts of the people with his love, grace and hope. We want to see a growing movement of his people across the nations joining together in prayer for God’s healing upon DPRK (2 Chronicles 7:14), and for this nation to rise up to be a blessing to the nations. As J O Fraser, missionary to the Lisu people, said, ‘Solid, lasting missionary work is done on our knees.’
To sign up to receive the DPRK Prayer Bulletin, visit omf.org/uk/dprk-newsletter