Prayer

An Ancient and Enduring Discipline

By David Lyons

Photo courtesy of Joel Bengs

Photo courtesy of Joel Bengs

Will The Navigators last 500 years? If so, it will be because we really do live our motto: To Know Christ, to Make Him Known and to Help Others Do the Same.

The Navigators is similar to another Christian organization—the Jesuits—that has lasted nearly 500 years. Although we are fundamentally different than the Jesuits in important ways, we share a passion for spending daily time alone with God.

I became fascinated with this connection a few years ago when our team read Heroic Leadership: Best Practices from a 450-Year-Old Company that Changed the World, by Chris Lowney. What Navigators often call a “quiet time,” the Jesuits call “The Daily Examen.”

For several years I’ve been practicing The Daily Examen as part of my daily quiet time. I recently noticed how this ancient practice is rooted in an even more ancient set of guidelines for spiritual health: Philippians 4:4-8.

There are five elements to The Daily Examen, as I practice it:

Become aware of God’s presence. Look back on the day’s events in the company of the Holy Spirit. Ask God for eyes to see His fingerprints. Philippians 4:4-5 says to “rejoice in the Lord” because “The Lord is near.” I cultivate awareness of God by journaling sentences that begin with phrases such as, “I see You discipling me,” and, “I see You protecting me,” and, “I see You . . .” As I write, I begin to see the day through His eyes.

Review the day with gratitude. We can walk through each day in the presence of God and focus on its joys, delights and gifts. Look at the work you did, the people you interacted with. What did you receive from these people? Pay attention to small things, such as the food you ate, the sights you saw and other seemingly small pleasures. Philippians 4:4-6 says to season our prayers with thanksgiving. The weather in my soul is consistently transformed by making a list of things that I’m thankful for.

Pay attention to your emotions. We often detect the presence of the Spirit of God in the movements of our emotions. Reflect on the feelings you experienced during the day. What is God saying through these feelings? God may show you some ways that you fell short. Repent of those. But look deeply for other implications. Does frustration mean that God wants you consider a new direction? Are you concerned about a friend? Perhaps you should reach out to her in some way. This practice has helped me realize how my work is often driven by anxiety. Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of Christ which surpasses all comprehension will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” I meet with my Wonderful Counselor every day, and He untangles my emotions.

Choose one feature of the day and pray about it. As you review your day, ask the Holy Spirit to direct you to something that He thinks is especially important. It may be a significant encounter with another person. Allow prayer to arise spontaneously from your heart—whether intercession, praise, repentance, or gratitude. The Message renders Philippians 4:6 as follows: “Instead of worrying, pray!” It will be settling to commit that concern to God.

Look toward tomorrow. Ask God to give you light for the next day’s challenges. Pay attention to your feelings as you survey what’s coming. Allow these feelings to turn into “prayer and supplication with thanksgiving” as you “let your requests be made known to God” (verses 6-7). As you do, listen for His guidance and write it down. This is crucial for following Jesus through each day as His disciple, as His apprentice.

I’m not too concerned about whether The Navigators (or the Jesuits) are around 500 years from now. But I hope that 500 years from now there will still be “navigators” navigating the seas of life with a passion to know, live and become like Jesus every day. That will last.

David Lyons is an International Vice President of The Navigators. He serves our 5,000 staff in more than 100 countries by coaching leaders and leading change. David is author of Don’t Waste the Pain.

A Forum for the Nations

By Mutua Mahiaini

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A landmark event in Navigator history just occurred in Malaysia. Our 2017 International Forum, the first in five years, brought together about 380 Navigator leaders from every part of the globe. These men and women display the remarkable unity and diversity of the Navigator Worldwide Partnership. We are unified in Christ to carry the Gospel into the nations.
 
Our purpose for the forum was to bring focus, alignment and energy to the Navigator movement. Over the years, we have found that significant, Gospel-advancing connections happen during this kind of forum. This was the case in Malaysia.
 
Leading up to the forum, God had spoken to my heart through Exodus 34:23-24, which says, “Three times a year all your men are to appear before the Sovereign Lord, the God of Israel. I will drive out nations before you and enlarge your territory . . .” This scripture affirms the importance of bringing our leaders together before God, to hear from Him, to be strengthened by Him together, and to encourage one another.
 
The theme for the International Forum was “the Gospel to the nations.” As I travel around the world and meet with Navigators, I have seen how God is mobilizing us around that call. We as Navigators are strongly aware that we are called to reach the nations. This is not just for ministries that have plentiful resources; it is part and parcel of our relationship with Christ.
 
And yet, this call to reach the nations is daunting. It is far beyond our human capacity. So, as we think about reaching the nations, it requires us to expand our view of God. The call to the nations compels us to put our trust in God’s power and promises, to believe that He will do what we cannot do on our own. Without faith, it is impossible to please Him.
 
Time after time during the conference, we heard stories of how God is fulfilling His promises to reach the nations. Leaders from each of our seven regions shared beautiful stories of God’s work through ordinary men and women who, in faith, are putting their families, finances and futures into service for the sake of ministering among the lost.

Reaching the nations happens on the local level—in neighborhoods, in family networks, in rural villages, on college campuses, in workplaces, in medical clinics, in urban slums. Navigators are working in all these places. A few examples:
 

  • In the Middle East and North Africa region, Navigators are serving refugees who have fled war-torn countries, and they are seeing the Gospel advance despite dangerous conditions.
  • In the North America region, pioneering missionaries are opening new works in the Caribbean and reaching out to the poor in the U.S.
  • In Latin America, we heard how God is using business professionals to bring Christ to their workplace and family networks.
  • In Eurasia, God is using sports ministries, medical teams, and orphanage ministries to share God’s love with the lost.
  • In Europe, young leaders are finding creative ways to bring the Gospel to a highly secular region.
  • In the vast Africa region, God is working powerfully through Navigators to bring hope to rural populations, to rescue prostitutes in urban centers, and to reach business leaders.
  • And in the populous Asia-Pacific region, Navigators are ministering fruitfully among followers of major religions from China to New Zealand.

During the forum, we spent extensive time praying for our work in each region. Prayer helped prevent us from putting ourselves in the center of this challenge to reach the nations. Moses made that mistake. In Exodus 3:7-10, God told Moses to lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. Moses responded to God’s call (3:11) by saying, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” In that question, Moses demonstrated that he believed the task depended on him, when in fact it depended on God.
 
The same is true for Navigators as we respond to God’s call to reach the nations. We respond with bold faith in God, seeing ourselves in light of His promises, love, and power. As we move forward after the International Forum, we pray and minister from that place.

Mutua Mahiaini is the International President of The Navigators. Mutua and his wife, Stephanie, led our work in Kenya, then in Côte d’Ivoire, and then as Regional Director for Africa for 13 years. Mutua and Stephanie now live in Colorado Springs. They have four adult children.

A Faith Adventure

By David Lyons

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“What is God saying to us?”
 
That was the question before the Navigator International Executive Team after two days of seeking God in Nepal in early 2016. The answer was clear, yet mysterious: “Lead from and into bold faith.” Our hearts resonated. We knew God was leading. But what would that look like?
 
In the following months, I began asking Navigators all over the world, “What are you praying that God will do in the next six months that only God could do?” I began to hear how our fellow workers were embracing this faith adventure and seeing miraculous answers to their prayers: a transformed prodigal son, astonishing funding, even physical healing.
 
Then I was asked to organize prayer for the International Forum. “Lord, what would it look like to develop this forum with bold faith?” The Lord gave me an idea from Matthew 18:19, which says, "If two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by my Father who is in heaven.”
 
What would it look like for Navigators around the world to agree in intense prayer for something only God could do through the forum? We did not know, but we began with our team, agreeing in prayer for these three God-sized requests:
 

  • We prayed that God would lead our international leadership community to focus together on the greater things that the Father intends to do in and through us (John 5:20; 14:12).
  • We prayed that God would lead us into world changing oneness with Him and with one another (John 17:23).
  • We prayed that God would lead us to believe so boldly that we will see His glory displayed among the nations (John 11:40).

Month by month others joined us, agreeing in prayer around these three requests. Each month, more and more Navigators participated with us from all over the world, sometimes via video conference calls in the middle of the night. By August, 60 intercessors were praying together.
 
Then, two weeks before the event, someone suggested that we invite others to pray with us daily during the forum. We sent out a few invitations, and the response was beyond what we could imagine. Another 250 intercessors, people who could not attend the forum, volunteered! Our anticipation ballooned.
 
Then it happened. Every day at the forum we saw a flurry of answers to our prayers:

  • Greater things: Leader after leader spontaneously exhorted us to believe God to reach beyond our competencies, to believe God for greater things, to have courage in the face of danger, to see breakthroughs in hard places. There was an electric sense of anticipation of what God was about to do, combined with an authentic confession of our desperate need.
  • World changing oneness with the Father: Every day of the forum began with an hour of seeking God together. Plus, there were spur-of-the-moment gatherings of Navigators seeking God for a greater openness to the work of the Holy Spirit among us.
  • World changing oneness with each other: We saw remarkable unity emerge from tremendous international diversity. Humility produced that unity. A region that could have easily boasted about its fruitfulness instead “boasted” about its weakness and need to grow in partnering. Several other countries and regions were deeply challenged to follow that example of humility.
  • Believing boldly: Every day I saw unplanned and planned prayer gatherings springing up. Navigators were praying fierce warrior prayers together as they boldly sought God for solutions to challenging obstacles.

How about you? What are you believing God for in the next six months that only He could do?

David Lyons is an International Vice President of The Navigators. He serves our 5,000 staff in more than 100 countries by coaching leaders and leading change. David is author of Don’t Waste the Pain.

Peacemakers in Turbulent Times

By Jerry White, International President Emeritus

Photo courtesy Randy Colas

Photo courtesy Randy Colas

Hatred. Divisiveness. Fear. Hostility. Animosity. Gloating. Joy. Relief. In the wake of changing governments and political turmoil, people in nation after nation are rocked with these emotions.

Today in country after country, wars and divisions split families and neighbors. In many places, the opposition is murdered or exiled. In others, no one dare speak a word publicly about any government actions or officials. Peaceful transitions of power are rare. And too often, justice and righteousness are nowhere to be seen.

In democratic countries, people expect to see more civility. And yet, during the recent U.S. election, accusations and harsh words became the norm. This occurred when there was no obvious oppression, injustice or outright evil. Divisive language emerged when there was only a difference of political philosophy. What are we as believers to do or think?
 
All of us look at political choices through a hierarchy of our priorities: the needs of the poor, the Supreme Court, laws regarding business, refugees, foreign policy, etc. But if we elevate these priorities higher than advancing the Gospel, or higher than our relationships, we can easily fall into unnecessary conflict.

The Bible often warns us about the danger of division among believers. In John 17:23, Jesus prayed that we as followers of Christ may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Our unity, Jesus said, is paramount to His purpose of reaching the lost with the message of His grace.

Through the years, I have worked with officials in the administrations of four presidents. They were good people. They were friends. I did not always agree with them or their policies, but we worked together for the common good. And I believe that the Scriptures can help us do the same.

First, it helps me to remember that God is in ultimate control. I recall Isaiah’s words about Cyrus, a pagan king: This is what the Lord says to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of . . . (Isaiah 45:1). In my Bible, I made a note by another verse regarding the U.S. election: No one from the east or the west or from the desert can exalt a man. But it is God who judges; He brings one down, he exalts another (Psalm 75:6–7).

God is sovereign over the nations. Yet our emotions may still consume us. And these emotions can often cause division, or keep us from expressing the Gospel as we should. How do we walk with Christ and honor God in our times?

Sometimes believers must take a stand against direct or systemic evil. But here is a short list of what we all can do as peacemakers and good citizens:

  • Pray diligently for the leaders, especially for godly counsellors and moral decisions. We read in 1 Timothy 2:1–2 that we are to pray for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. Remember to pray for the leader’s surrounding team.
  • Keep your walk with Jesus fresh and yielded.
  • Be humble: Consider the lenses through which you prioritize your political and moral thinking and ask God to show you if your priorities should change.
  • Remember that we do not necessarily know the full truth of many issues. So let’s pray and listen to others, taking care in not adamantly expressing our own views.
  • Finally, I stay focused on my calling. I am not called to be a political activist, but to be an evangelist and disciple-maker. It is not wrong to be publicly engaged, but our purpose is to communicate the truth of Christ’s redeeming power, a pure Gospel. We must not give people the impression that adhering to one political view or another is necessary to be follower of Jesus. We should engage in the issues of our times, but do so with an effort to keep the peace and to live out the Gospel.

In all things, we can rest. God is always on the throne. His purposes cannot be thwarted. Our role as Navigators continues to be “to know Him and to make Him known.”    

Dr. Jerry White is International President Emeritus of The Navigators. He served almost 19 years as International President (until 2005). He retired as a Major General from the US Air Force. He and his wife, Mary, live in Colorado Springs.