Prayer is not preparation for the main task, it is the main task – Oswald Chambers
But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. – Hebrews 12: 22-25
I have been reading one of the best books I have ever read about making disciples. Full of stories, method and encouragement, it has caused us to evaluate our own efforts in how effective we are in taking the Gospel to those who are in darkness. That, coupled with an intensive look at the book of Hebrews, which portrays the person of Christ with such clarity, has made for some good reading and thinking.
In the disciple making book, I read of a church planter who plants some 500 new churches a year. These are not bricks and mortar places, with priests and worship teams and a youth group, these are gatherings, Oikos, of new believers who come together very frequently to study and worship and be trained into how to find and make new disciples of Jesus Christ. A movement is begun. Some of the stories of what God is doing in far flung places makes your spine tingle. We feel in many ways, we have barely got started. We want to be part of that story here in our own little place in the heart of Sydney. Friends, don’t for one moment think that Jesus is on the back foot, scrambling to find a place in the world. Far from it his Kingdom is on the move and he wants us to join the work.
The church planter also has a vocational job which he works at during the day, before meeting with people every evening to further the Gospel in his country. Want to know what his secret is though? He prays each morning for around 3 hrs before work, and then another 2 hrs in the evening with his various groups. I was so staggered when I read that, it seemed beyond my comprehension. Yet, seeking first the will of the Lord in all he wants on a day by day, moment by moment basis is surely no more than what is displayed in Scripture. Christ did the same with his Father, and he wants us to live the same way with him. He wants to lead the way in everything we do, especially when we go out in his name. Whose kingdom is it, after all?
Further, the church planters who were successful had an army of others praying for them as well. In some cases, several thousand were praying daily for just a small group of church planters. The author suggested that unless you had at least a hundred people praying for you daily, your success would be limited. So, we will start looking for people to pray with us. It came to me as I was reading this, that there is an army of darkness that would do all it can to prevent others from hearing the Gospel. When you push back and start to do the work of Christ, opposition will surely come. Much prayer is needed. Persecution, opposition is on our doorstep here as well. Soon, we will need to choose which God we serve far more publicly than we do now.
On the other side though, God opens doors all the time. If we pray, then we should be expectant. This week as I was in another city, meeting with a couple who own a company on whose board I sit. I had been wondering whether I really wanted to work with this group of people because of the lifestyle they promoted, but they invited me to stay in their house. In the morning, as she was getting her daughter ready for school, out of the blue she asked me what I knew about Revelation. Someone, a friend of hers who was a believer, had given her a book on the end times and she was fascinated. We got talking, and in the half hour over a cuppa tea, I was able to walk her through the full Gospel message, which she had never heard before. When you get a chance to explain the Gospel, and why Jesus is so essential and central to God’s plans, the blindness is lifted and you can see the understanding that comes. We continue to pray, as she has openly said she wants to hear more.
As I was flying back the same day, thinking about that conversation the Lord reminded me that if we pray, we should expect the opportunity to come. Why was I surprised?
We are passionate about the task we feel the Lord has given us, and continue to seek his face for steps forward. It is not just our calling though, it is according to Scripture, a calling for all who believe in Jesus Christ. The passage in Hebrews reminds us that the God of the Hebrews is to be feared, a ‘devouring fire,’ yet because of what Christ has done, what is due to us will not come to us. Instead, we get an inheritance, an adoption beyond our wildest imagination.
Friends, the world must hear of this before it is too late. There is no time to waste. Come, let us pray for each other, and let us go and make fishers of men as He has commanded. I believe he won’t delay coming for much longer.