On 13-15 June 2016, under the leadership of the Methodist Bishop, the Methodist Church in Malaysia gathered at the first Methodist School of Intercessors. That was the birth of the “Issachar Watchmen Movement”.
The theme for that year was, “To know Malaysia is to bless Malaysia”. This movement is called the “Issachar Watchmen Movement” because this is a call to us as Methodists in Malaysia to take after the tribe of Issachar “who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do, 200 chiefs, and all their kinsmen under their command” (1 Chronicles 12:32).
In the Bible, out of the 12 tribes of Israel, the tribe Issachar was not a big tribe. However, God had given them wisdom to assess the current times and discern the necessary actions to follow especially during the turbulent times of political turmoil and war.
In the ancient days, a wall was erected around the city to protect the city. On the wall were watchtowers. The watchmen in the watchtowers would stay awake at night and keep watch. If the watchmen saw enemies moving towards the city, they would send out a signal to the citizens, asking them to take cover or to fight back. Therefore, the watchmen played very important roles to safeguard the city and its people.
Our country needs spiritual watchmen too —people who would keep watch on our nation and intercede for it. For some of us, God may have placed a special burden in you to “understand the times and seasons” and to discern how to pray for the nation at different seasons and times. For the majority of us, it is still our responsibility to pray.
Below are just a few of the Bible verses which talk about the importance to pray for our national leaders:
1Timothy 2:1-2, “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” (NIV)
“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” (Romans 13:1, NIV)
“Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” (Jeremiah 29:7, NIV)
“Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.” 1 Peter 2:17
“if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14
Would you want to commit as a watchman and pray for the nation? You can set aside a time each day to pray for the national leaders and current issues. I personally think that keeping up to date with the news is important — to know our land is to bless our land. We want to know what is happening in the society so that we can pray accordingly and so that the church can be a blessing and a help to those in need.
More importantly, what is God telling you through the things happening around us? What is your response? How can you bear God’s light in wherever you are? Let’s stand and watch on behalf of the land. May God’s glory cover Malaysia!