Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Pray, Care, Share Begins And Ends With Prayer


     If you've read the last few posts on my blog, you've read the testimonies of several people in our church who went prayer walking (or prayer driving) a few weeks ago. Honestly, I was surprised at the number of people who responded to my request for testimonies. I was surprised at the number of encounters. I shouldn't have been. Dozens of us had been praying for our neighbors for several months. What should I have expected?
     Prayer is the priority of a caring, sharing church. At least that's the way I read the Bible. Before Jesus sent out the 12, he told them, "The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest." (Mt.9:37-38)  Before He sent out 70 more, he told them, "The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest." (Lk.10:2)
     Before He sent the Holy Spirit to fill and propel the first church out into the world, He said, "And look, I am sending you what My Father promised. As for you, stay in the city until you are empowered from on high." (Lk.24:49) Then Luke tells us how they lived out that obedience, "All these were continually united in prayer," (Acts1:14) And, when Paul taught the church at Ephesus how to act like God's household, how to live as the church of the living God, he gave them this priority, "First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings be made for everyone," (1Tim.2:1) and that the priority of the church was the mission of God to save sinners through the preaching of the Gospel.
     So, after months of prayer, many of us went out. And, as we went out, we experienced divine encounters. Through prayer, our hearts had been prepared. Through prayer, we were led to the harvest. The danger, the risk, is always that we will pray, go, get busy, and then forget to pray.
     That's what has happened again and again to the church. In dependence on God, we wait and pray. In obedience to God we go, love, care, and share. Then the harvest begins to come in. We get busy. We keep loving, caring, and sharing, but we stop praying. Then the harvest seems to dry up. Why?
     The harvest never dries up. We dry up. The harvest does not occur because of us. It occurs because of God. It is His harvest. We are His servants. The power of God, the control and fullness of His Holy Spirit, comes when we obey Him. It does come when we finally go, care, and share the Gospel. It also comes when we pray. Going is no substitute for abiding. They are two sides of the same coin.
     Do not forget to pray. Do not neglect prayer. Especially when the harvest begins to come in. You will need Him more than ever when it does, and you cannot abide in Him if you do not abide in prayer.

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