As we enter a new year, Tim Adams (IFES General Secretary) reminds us of the central role of prayer in our ministry and shares how the call of Jesus to be shining lights is inspiring his prayers for IFES in 2024.
“How can I pray for IFES?”
Without doubt, this is the question I’m most often asked. And I know that IFES friends and partners genuinely want to know the answer because a few weeks or months later, they’ll ask for an update on the need I shared with them. Others don’t even wait for specific prayer news items – I receive messages just telling me that they’re praying for IFES or for me that day.
To all of you who faithfully pray for student ministry around the world, THANK YOU!
Prayer has always been a core value in IFES – some of the earliest student groups were prayer unions. And it is still the bedrock of fruitful ministry. For every student that decides to follow Jesus, for every new student group and national movement, for every Christian staff worker and student who holds firm to their faith through stormy trials, I believe it’s because people are praying. The prayers of a righteous person are indeed powerful and effective (James 5:16).
So, what is my answer? How can you pray for IFES in 2024?
There is never a shortage of responses to that question. Many places are in crisis or special need due to natural disasters, war, civil unrest, tragedy, or difficult issues in the national movement. Movements are grappling with meta-issues, such as student mental health, secularism, corruption, and poverty. And then there are various IFES events and ministry initiatives – local, regional, and global – that will connect staff and students and promote mission, learning, and fellowship across our network. All these need our prayers.
But through – and above – all these issues and opportunities, my one big prayer for IFES in 2024 is that we will be a global community of shining lights for God’s kingdom. It is a direct calling Jesus makes to us in the Sermon on the Mount: “You are the light of the world… let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16). Through Christ, we are to fulfil God’s purposes for his people – to be a beacon of light drawing the nations to him (Isaiah 60:2-3):
See, darkness covers the earth
and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you
and his glory appears over you.
Nations will come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
I pray that people will see our bright witness and be drawn closer to their Creator, Saviour, and Lord. In different contexts this will look different. Our witness may be shining with hope amidst apathy and suspicion. It might be shining with courage in the face of intimidation and persecution. It could be shining with integrity in a culture of corruption. It may be shining with love in an atmosphere of fear and hate.
So, as we start this new year, I invite you to join me in resolving to pray each day for students around the world. Begin today by praying for students in your country – that God will open their hearts to the good news – and pray for those involved in your local IFES movement as they shine the light of the gospel into schools, universities, and colleges where you are. And then continue praying through the year for student movements around the world where you have links, or for those you read about here in Prayerline. In all these contexts and beyond, let’s pray that the light of the gospel will so shine from us that many students will be moved to glorify our Father in heaven (1 Peter 2:12).
This is my prayer for IFES in 2024, one crucial way in which we can be thriving together.
If you enjoyed hearing Tim’s longings for this year, then look out for the Conexión blog later this week, when other IFES leaders will be sharing their hopes and prayers for 2024.