by John D. Barry
Imagination is a gift from above. It is imagination that gives us the power to see a slum as a city with paved streets. It is imagination that allows us to see our world as it is meant to be. And it is prayer that unlocks the power of imagination.
The biblical dreamers—like Daniel and John the Evangelist—saw their world not as it was, but as it could be. Daniel’s God-given ability to see beyond the present moment—and God’s faithfulness to answer his prayers—resulted in a king writing to “all the peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth … ‘I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel” (>Daniel 6:25–26). Prayer changes hearts, even the hearts of powerful kings. With the power of prayer, our great God is made known around the world.
Daniel shared his message about his God subtly, mainly through his actions (at least in the beginning of his ministry). By comparison, John the Evangelist shared his message loudly, through writing. Both acts are necessary in our work for God.
John the Evangelist envisioned a better world—where all would be made new by Christ (Revelation 21). John’s message has inspired thousands upon thousands. It is prayer that made John available to receive such a splendid message.
Prayer enables us to imagine our world renewed. Prayer helps us see God’s vision for the world: we see what isn’t yet, but should be.
Imagining a better future for the world can (and should) only happen through prayer. As the leader of Jesus’ Economy, which is dedicated to creating jobs and churches in the developing world, it is my job to envision a better world. With developing world leaders, we at Jesus’ Economy envision what could be (rather than what is). Imagination coupled with prayer should drive this entire process (and really the entire process of our lives).
Right now, I’m imagining renewal in Bihar, India—one of the most impoverished places in the world, where few have heard the name of Jesus. Jesus’ Economy is raising funds to renew hope, hearts, and homes in Bihar. We plan to empower 40 women through microloans, drill 18 water wells, train and send out 18 indigenous church planters, and establish a medical clinic for the impoverished. (You can see how we’re doing this here.) But this process, like many things God calls us to, requires diligence and trust; it requires prayer. This is just one example of how God is calling me to dream with him; how is he calling you?
I am sure that you have something (or someone) you’re praying for. As you’re asking the Lord to answer your prayer—living in the in-between of the prayer and the answer—remember its value. Not all investments pay off, but the investment of prayer always does. So although it may feel bleak now, it won’t always be.
Let’s pray together for God’s kingdom to come and for the Lord’s will to be done (Matt 6:7–15). Let’s pray for God’s kingdom to be present in our lives and the lives of people all around the world. Let’s especially pray for that in Bihar, India, and among all the impoverished places of the world.
Let’s place our hope in Christ. And let’s imagine the world as Christ sees it—acting upon his dreams of a better world.
John D. Barry is the volunteer CEO and Founder of Jesus’ Economy, dedicated to creating jobs and churches in the developing world. Because of John’s belief that business can also transform lives, Jesus’ Economy also provides an online fair trade shop. He is currently leading Jesus’ Economy efforts to Renew Bihar, India—one of the most impoverished places in the world where few have heard the name of Jesus.