Réveille... (Part 13)
PRAY EARNESTLY TO THE LORD OF THE HARVEST...
It’s time to talk about a crucial element in God’s design for extending his kingdom on earth. It’s time to talk about prayer.
Usually, reading about prayer leaves me feeling guilty and lazy. I know that’s not the intended purpose, but it still happens.
Prayer should inspire something better than feelings of inadequacy. Prayer is a privilege of grace… it’s intimate communion with God… it’s a discipline with refreshing benefits—like a long run in a cold rain. Endorphins kicking in is a good thing.
I’m convinced the right kind of prayer is both powerful and needed. By the right kind of prayer, I mean focused prayer. When Jesus tells us, for example, to “consider the lilies of the field”, we should do it. It might help to get us quiet for a change. Once we get there, we’ll end up contemplating God himself in what the lily reveals about him… “even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” (Matthew 6:28-29, ESV)
And so it might go if we were more intentional about praying to God through his descriptive titles. It will grow our appreciation of who he is. It will make us more like him. His heart will be reflected in our heart.
So, what would happen if we prayed earnestly to the Lord of the harvest?
“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”” (Matthew 9:36-38, ESV)
Everything starts here. We underestimate its power and importance. If we allow our praying to the Lord of the harvest to do it’s full work in us, we will reap blessings beyond measure.
Prayer recognizes the sovereignty of God. We defer to it… we rest in it. One of the many ironies of ministry is that we are called to do what we are incapable of doing. We might help a friend harvest a field of wheat, but it’s not our wheat… it’s not our field… we don’t own the farm. Just so, we pray for a harvest that isn’t ours. We don’t own a single acre or share. God is the sole owner. He cares more about yield and quality than we do.
The right kind of prayer will help us sort out what our place in the big picture is… and what it isn’t. We’re not the movers and shakers here… the Holy Spirit is. If our frame of mind is “we need to make something happen,” ours will not be a spiritual success story.
Our impetuousness about the what and how of extending God’s kingdom will devolve into one more proof of our compulsion to be religious and bureaucratic. We’ll suck the joy right out of the process before we even begin our walk and witness.
We work at nailing down truth in such a way that by the time we think we get it, we’ve masked its indescribable beauty in a shroud of big words in thick books with no pictures.
“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”” (John 8:31-32, ESV)
“Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” (John 7:38, ESV)
The right kind of prayer does not lead to a damp cell in a dark monastery… it leads out to blue skies and sunshine.
Kingdom pioneers have caught a glimpse… albeit “in a mirror dimly.” (1 Corinthians 13:12, ESV). It has freed us to “be all we can be” for the sheer pleasure of knowing HIM. Whatever would hold us back from going wherever he leads, dissolves in the brightness of his glory.
Prayer transforms the pray-er. It puts us in tune with the mind of Christ. He has plans for us, but he needs for us to grow up. He means for us to think like him… feel like him… be like him.
“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son,…” (Romans 8:29, ESV)
His compassion for the multitudes… his sacrifice of himself for them—for us—shatters our small-mindedness. Praying earnestly to the Lord of the harvest is the perfect antidote for our provincialism, tribalism, nationalism, xenophobia, war-mongering, and racism.
“And he made from one man every nation of mankind…” (Acts 17:26, ESV)
We grow into harmony with the totality of humankind. We’re all related since we all come from the first man - Adam. When one bleeds, we all bleed. When one is mistreated, we all feel the shame. The field truly is the world. Our praying expands beyond “I, me, mine.”
Woke carries a connotation of a shift in perspective — of waking up from a comfortable fantasy about the world and realizing that it isn’t what you thought it was…It reflects what we know, how we think, and how we act on it every day… Woke
It’s a good word: It’s what we’ll be if we do the right kind of praying to the Lord of the harvest. We’ll remember to keep complacency and self-centered living at bay. We’ll remember we’re not here to squeeze everything out of life that we can for ourselves.
My life is not the point of my life. —Gary Rowe
It’s God’s kingdom—not ours. We are not Masters of the Universe. God’s role is not simply to come when called and do whatever it takes to keep us happy, healthy, and safe.
If he wants to throw me to the wolves, I might say “I’d rather not”, but… I’m his now. And after all he has done for me, I will stand with arms spread and eyes heavenward in gratitude and praise.
Not warfare like with rockets and armies and bloodshed… (the weapons of our warfare are not carnal) But there is a proactive insistence—urgency even—in how we stretch ourselves to reach the unreached. It’s still true that dying without Christ is a fate worse than death. It means eternal damnation. It’s still true that people need to hear… it’s still true that without sending people to proclaim and live the message before the multitudes who still know nothing about Jesus Christ, they will not hear the Good News.
“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”” (Acts 4:12, ESV)
Prayer mobilizes the pray-er… We’re not tip-toeing through the tulips getting in touch with our inner being when we suddenly find ourselves on the front lines of the spiritual battle. We get there because we said “yes” to the Gospel’s call to “go.” We heard the call because we had been quiet enough to hear it… and willing enough to choose harder over softer because of a growing thankfulness for the love of God expressed to us through Calvary’s cross.
The right kind of prayer will impel us to go and tour towns and villages purposefully with the GOOD NEWS.
Hudson Taylor: Amazing who we admire, but don’t bother to emulate:
How was China ever to be evangelized but by the Chinese Church? And how were the converts ever to know the joy of unpaid, voluntary service, from love to the Lord Jesus Christ, unless the missionaries could be patient and wait for spiritual developments? Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret
An ethical philosophy of ministry will require a maturing, sanctified patience increasingly dependent on the right kind of prayer. Its enabling power will grow and sustain ethical integrity through the course of a life given to Gospel kingdom work. We will resist the corporate mindset that trickles down to the kingdom worker like a memo: “It’s time to make something happen.”
Prayer to the Lord of the harvest generates forward thinking. What will the next harvest season look like? Who will go? Where will they go? How will we send them?
Kingdom work needs dreamers and pioneers - young adults with a whole life to give to the spreading of the Gospel. Could there be a more noble, transcending and eternally consequential career path?
FULL DISCLOSURE - Greg wants your children. Actually, God wants them a whole lot more.
It’s one sure way of dragging a church out of bed and shaking it awake: by praying the Lord gets ahold of our own children and young adults.
It jolts parents and grandparents into being “Woke” senders and pray-ers! Suddenly, they’re the ones asking the hard questions: Why so little interest in helping my kids get to where God has called them? Why does it take so long and so much traveling to raise support? What are churches thinking? It’s easier to feel the need when it’s our own children and grandbabies going off to the regions beyond.
We could pre-empt the shock by praying proactively to the Lord of the harvest. Let’s release our children into his hands… now and completely.
Prayer is contagious. Our praying will inspire others to pray for the extension of God’s kingdom… for souls still unprepared for death and eternity. It will inspire other pray-ers to also think about how their going is going.
Prayer to the Lord of the harvest will engender a kind of spiritual socialism - an equal distribution of the wealth available to all. Passionate praying prompts the building of home-based senders as deeply committed as the frontline goers.
And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (Romans 10:14-15, ESV)
Next: More about forward thinking…