One of the things I enjoyed the most about working at International Justice Mission was the culture of the organization. The IJM staff begins every day with two spiritual disciplines: “stillness” and corporate prayer. “Stillness” is a thirty-minute block of time in which the office is quiet, and every staff member spends intentional, individual time with the Lord. At our office, stillness was followed by thirty-minutes of corporate prayer. Every day, the staff would join together, sing a worship song, and list prayer requests for the day. Then, we would divide into groups to pray over each request.
At first I was surprised about the level of detail to which we prayed. But after the weeks went by, I became accustomed to praying every day over every aspect of our work. Some requests changed from day to day, but some requests we lifted up persistently every single day. Every rescue, every part of each trial, every victim by name, and every IJM staff member were consistently covered in prayer. In six short weeks, I spent 15 hours praying together with fellow believers.
In Judges 7, the Lord tells Gideon that his army contained too many men for the Lord to grant him victory. He commanded Gideon to wean down the size of the army until a mere 300 remained. Why? The Lord tells us that Israel would have become boastful and said in their hearts, “My own power has delivered me.” The human heart will-whenever possible-attribute credit to itself.
The truth is, fighting human trafficking is often overwhelming and exhausting. One of the mental challenges is that nagging question in the back of my mind, Can we really bring about change when so many things are broken? I am comforted by the knowledge that our Father loves to bring about the impossible through His strength in our weakness. He loves to defeat a mighty nation with a few hundred soldiers, a giant with a shepherd and a slingshot, a fortified city with marching and trumpet sounds. He loves to use seemingly small things to overcome what is seemingly strong.
The spiritual disciplines of stillness and corporate prayer are not implemented to guarantee some human conception of success. Rather, these disciplines remind our forgetful hearts that God is the source of all power to restore and transform; that He is both loving and sovereign; and that without Him, we can do nothing. The tenacity of the IJM staff flows from an understanding of the power of God. I question whether real change can occur because I automatically think in terms of what can reasonably be accomplished, but the culture of the IJM office is to surrender everything to the Lord and to trust Him for the results.
These concepts have influenced me deeply. My prayer life is woefully minimal because I am accustomed to relying on my own strength every day. In my pride, I want to say, my own power has accomplished this. I am challenged by the IJM team who remain fearless in the face of circumstances that appear insurmountable. I am humbled by their faith and convicted of my own self-reliant attitude. I am challenged to turn to the Lord in consistent, daily prayer for every aspect of my life.