It is easy for us to see our modern missions efforts as superior to those of old, but much has happened in the past which we would do well to remember. In the early 1900s, a lone missionary from England struggled year after year among a people group in the rugged mountains of China with almost no progress. An incredible movement of God broke out, and it was clearly not because of the missionary or his well devised strategy. It was prayer.
This missionary, J.O. Fraser, wrote these words a few years earlier to those back in England who were praying:
I am not asking you just to give "help" in prayer as a sort of sideline, but I am trying to roll the main responsibility of this prayer-warfare on you. I want you to take the BURDEN of these people upon your shoulders. I want you to wrestle with God for them.
They took their responsibility seriously, and God honored their prayers. J.O. Fraser is the name many attach to the revival among the Lisu people of Yunnan Province, but the real burden was borne by prayer warriors on the other side of the globe.
The missionary is not the cure-all pill we send out to cure the nations. There is much which remains our responsibility. We need to move beyond "bless our missionary" prayers, and begin to wrestle with God for the souls of the billions of lost in this world.