Praying for China as the Lord Teaches – Your Kingdom Come

Editor’s note: Over the past years, China Partnership has dedicated itself to intentional prayer for the church in China. As CP increasingly emphasizes prayer as part of our calling, we have worked with John Smed, director of Prayer Current, to hone our prayer muscles. We spoke with him about why prayer is so crucial and how organizations can grow in this critical area.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.


CP: Can you share about prayer and partnership?

John Smed: The question that needs to be addressed is: how do we bring prayer into the center of our organizations and our partnerships? The slogan we have come up with is: “Prayer-centered movements have prayer at the center.”

At International Justice Mission, every person begins his or her day at the office with an hour of prayer. Then they have an hour of staff prayer. They have a monthly day of prayer, and an annual prayer time that everybody participates in – as part of the payroll, if you want to put it that way. Instead of prayer being an elective exercise – you know, “If you want to exercise, go ahead, but if you don’t, just be chubby” – instead, we have to say prayer is as essential and vital as anything we do. International Justice Mission, for example, says the work of justice begins with prayer. If well begun, half done.


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There are significant implications to saying, “Let’s bring prayer into the center.” For example, is it going to be in the budget? Are you going to hire anybody to do anything? Are you going to pay for training? Are you going to have materials and resources?

If we don’t disciple in prayer, we are not going to become prayers. It has to happen with staff and with leaders. Let’s not bring people to prayer; let’s bring prayer to people. Let’s not bring people to prayer events; let’s take prayer into every event. Let’s give it its rightful due: not just the footnote or the polite thing at the beginning and the end.

In our church we did not have small groups or Bible studies, we had prayer groups. Why? We knew Bible study would happen. We knew discussion would happen. Our philosophy was, “If prayer doesn’t have first place, it will get last place.” Somebody said, “The Holy Spirit is the shy person of the Trinity, he only comes if asked.” If we want a Spirit-led church, if we want to experience the life and vitality of Christ, if we want to see people actually come to faith in Jesus and not just talk about it, then we have to spend more time on our knees. Jesus said, “Wait. You’ll receive power, the Holy Spirit will come upon you.”

I believe that’s a paradigm for the church, and not just back then. If you don’t wait, there won’t be power, there won’t be the Holy Spirit. It’s a syllogistic relationship; if one thing is true, the opposite is not true. We have to have a Holy Spirit resolve about prayer. It’s not nearly to that point with almost anybody in evangelicalism today. It’s not a Holy Spirit resolve, it’s: “That would be a great idea.” One in ten times we see it happen.

Whereas, I have found working internationally, five out of ten times people will do something about it, and they will do something serious. When we bring training materials to a place like that, we do not even have to follow up; the materials will be put to use and disbursed right away to the entire community. Whereas, in America we’ll have to do four or five follow ups, and that’s not happening.

The other point about bringing prayer into the center of the organization and into the center of partnerships is that, if the key leaders are not highly committed to the enterprise, we have never seen it materialize in the community. You can’t have a prayer-centered network if it is not centered in prayer at the middle. [It needs to] connect that we will be transgressing against our heavenly Father and betraying our Savior Jesus if we do not affirm and begin with the primacy of prayer.

The last thing to say is, we don’t think people are becoming biblically literate without any training, yet we think they can become prayer literate without training. It is not true. There needs to be as concerted discipleship with prayer as with the Word, and of course that effort should be integrated.

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Further Reading

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Nanjing: A Welcoming City of Newcomers
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Nanjing: A Relational Gospel
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LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA

With rising pressure and persecution in China, there are two challenges imperative for church leaders. The first challenge is for current leaders to love Christ above all else, and not to stray into legalism or love of the world. The second challenge is to raise up the next generation of leaders, who will humbly model Jesus even if current leaders are arrested.

WILL YOU JOIN US IN PRAYING FOR LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA? PRAY FOR:

  1. Current leaders to grow in their daily walks with Christ
  2. Current leaders to shepherd and raise up new leaders
  3. New leaders who love Christ and will model him to the world
  4. New leaders to love and care for the church

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ABOUT LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT

About Shenyang

Shenyang is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Liaoning Province. It is known for its rich history and cultural heritage, including the Shenyang Imperial Palace, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Shenyang is also a hub for China’s heavy industry, with companies such as the China First Automobile Group and the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation having their headquarters in the city.

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Stories from Shenyang

About Qingdao

Qingdao is a city located in eastern China and is famous for its beaches, beer, and seafood. The city is home to several landmarks, including the Zhanqiao Pier and the Badaguan Scenic Area. Qingdao is also a major port and has a thriving economy, with industries such as electronics, petrochemicals, and machinery.

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Stories from Qingdao

About Xiamen

Xiamen is a city located in southeastern China and is a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful coastal scenery, including Gulangyu Island, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city is also a hub for China’s high-tech industry, with companies such as Huawei and ZTE having research and development centers in Xiamen.

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Stories from Xiamen

About Chongqing

Chongqing is a city located in southwestern China and is a major economic center in the region. The city is known for its spicy cuisine, especially its hot pot dishes, and is also famous for the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydroelectric dam. Chongqing is also home to several historic sites, including the Dazu Rock Carvings, which are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

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Stories from Chongqing

About Nanjing

Nanjing is a city located in eastern China and is the capital of Jiangsu Province. It is one of China’s ancient capitals and has a rich cultural history, including the Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum, the Nanjing City Wall, and the Confucius Temple. Nanjing is also a modern city with a thriving economy and is home to several universities, including Nanjing University and Southeast University.

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Stories from Nanjing

About Changchun

Changchun is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Jilin Province. It is known for its rich cultural heritage and is home to several historical landmarks such as the Puppet Emperor’s Palace and the Jingyuetan National Forest Park. Changchun is also a hub for China’s automotive industry, with several major automobile manufacturers having their headquarters in the city.

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Stories from Changchun

About Guangzhou

Guangzhou, also known as Canton, is a city located in southern China and is the capital of Guangdong Province. It is one of the country’s largest and most prosperous cities, serving as a major transportation and trading hub for the region. Guangzhou is renowned for its modern architecture, including the Canton Tower and the Guangzhou Opera House, as well as its Cantonese cuisine, which is famous for its variety and bold flavors. The city also has a rich history, with landmarks such as the Chen Clan Ancestral Hall, the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, and the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees. Additionally, Guangzhou hosts the annual Canton Fair, the largest trade fair in China.

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Stories from Guangzhou

About Kunming

Kunming is a city located in southwest China and is the capital of Yunnan Province. Known as the “City of Eternal Spring” for its mild climate, Kunming is a popular tourist destination due to its natural beauty and cultural diversity. The city is home to several scenic spots, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Stone Forest, Dian Lake, and the Western Hills. Kunming is also famous for its unique cuisine, which features a mix of Han, Yi, and Bai ethnic flavors. The city has a rich cultural history, with ancient temples and shrines like the Yuantong Temple and the Golden Temple, and it’s also a hub for Yunnan’s ethnic minority cultures, such as the Yi and Bai peoples.

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Stories from Kunming

About Shenzhen

Shenzhen is a city located in southeastern China and is one of the country’s fastest-growing metropolises. The city is renowned for its thriving tech industry, with companies such as Huawei, Tencent, and DJI having their headquarters in Shenzhen. The city also has a vibrant cultural scene, with numerous museums, art galleries, and parks. Shenzhen is also known for its modern architecture, such as the Ping An Finance Center and the Shenzhen Bay Sports Center. Despite its modernization, Shenzhen also has a rich history and cultural heritage, with landmarks such as the Dapeng Fortress and the Chiwan Tin Hau Temple.

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Stories from Shenzhen

About Chengdu

Chengdu is a city located in the southwestern region of China, and the capital of Sichuan province. It has a population of over 18 million people, and it is famous for its spicy Sichuan cuisine, laid-back lifestyle, and its cute and cuddly residents – the giant pandas. Chengdu is home to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, where visitors can observe these adorable creatures in their natural habitat. The city also boasts a rich cultural heritage, with numerous temples, museums, and historical sites scattered throughout its boundaries. Chengdu is a city of contrasts, with ancient traditions coexisting alongside modern developments, making it an intriguing and fascinating destination for visitors to China. 

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Stories from Chengdu

About Beijing

Beijing is the capital city of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 21 million people. The city has a rich history that spans over 3,000 years, and it has served as the capital of various dynasties throughout China’s history. Beijing is home to some of the most iconic landmarks in China, including the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and the Temple of Heaven. The city is also a hub for political, cultural, and educational activities, with numerous universities and research institutions located within its boundaries. Beijing is renowned for its traditional architecture, rich cuisine, and vibrant cultural scene, making it a must-visit destination for travelers to China.

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Stories from Beijing

About Shanghai

Shanghai is a vibrant and dynamic city located on the eastern coast of China. It is the largest city in China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 24 million people. Shanghai is a global financial hub and a major center for international trade, with a rich history and culture that spans over 1,000 years. The city is famous for its iconic skyline, which features towering skyscrapers such as the Oriental Pearl Tower and the Shanghai Tower. Shanghai is also home to a diverse culinary scene, world-class museums and art galleries, and numerous shopping districts. It is a city that is constantly evolving and reinventing itself, making it a fascinating destination for visitors from around the world.

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Stories from Shanghai

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