#12: Mission and prayer #TaylorTuesdays

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When someone whose life is simply and sacrificially dedicated to God has any fellow man ‘pretty constantly in mind’ to the extent that the feeling of concern leads to responsible action, that surely is the whole of intercession. For a timeless moment it makes one totally present with the other person or persons across the intervening distances, without words and in a manner that goes beyond thought. It is simply a matter of ‘being there for them’…

So it is when the other on whom our silent regard is concentrated is once again God himself. For in this prayer of awareness we swing from intercession to worship and back again, we alternate between fellow man and God, the image of the symbol merges into the image of Christ, without any break in stillness. This is the gift of the Spirit, the beloved Go-Between, the opener of eyes and giver of life.

The Go-Between God, pp.242-3

What part should intercessory prayer play in mission?

When thinking about prayer, Taylor wants us to understand that it should not be a separate discipline which sits on its own. For him, intercession and action melt into and overlap one another. The act of ‘keeping others in mind’ before God should naturally lead to engaging in acts of love and service towards them.

This idea of Taylor’s is very similar to the monastic idea of ‘contemplative activism’ – that prayer and action should sit naturally together and feed into one another. This interaction, between God, ourselves and others, creates the sparks which ignite and fuel our own sense of calling.

For Taylor, this dynamic movement between God, ourselves and others is ultimately the work of the Holy Spirit – the ‘Go-Between God’.

Some questions to ponder:

  • How do you make time to pray for others in your mission context?
  • Do you see intercession, mission and worship as separate practices, or as one interconnected whole?
  • What are the sparks which fuel your own sense of vocation or calling to mission?

 

This is our last Taylor Tuesday post before Christmas. We’ll be taking a break from Taylor over December, before potentially starting a new series of reflections on mission in the new year.

Each Tuesday we’re posting a quote from John V. Taylor with some thoughts and questions for reflection. John (or J.V.) Taylor (1914 – 2001) was the General Secretary of the Church Missionary Society, and Bishop of Winchester, and wrote several seminal books on theology of mission, including The Go-Between God: The Holy Spirit and the Christian Mission and The Primal Vision: Christian Presence Amid African Religion. Find all the Taylor Tuesdays posts here.
About the author: James Henley
James Henley
James has been with The Lab since 2007 and leads our team. He's an ordained pioneer minister in the Church in Wales.