On August 13, I began preaching on the subject of prayer. I have benefitted from this study. I concluded the preaching series yesterday, but I sincerely trust that we will forever be growing into a “House of Prayer.”
Yesterday, I preached from the text in Matthew that gives us this sentence:
“Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.”
The context is a summary of Jesus’ ministry. (Matthew 9:35-38) The specific passage also immediately precedes Jesus’ appointment of the disciples who are being tasked to go to those who need to hear about Jesus. Therefore, the summary passage at the end of Matthew 9 gives us an excellent point of view from Scripture regarding the primacy of prayer in the endeavor of preaching the Gospel to the nations.
Praying for the nations is a command.
What specifically are we to pray?
We are to pray “to the Lord of the Harvest to send out workers into His harvest.”
I find this interesting. We are not commanded to pray for the harvest. We are to pray for workers. The implication is clear. The harvest takes care of itself if the workers go.
This Prayer for the nations is…
Consistent with the Situation.
The News is Good—The Gospel is good. We all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. But, God, in His love, loved us while we were sinners. He proved His love toward us in this way: He died for sinners. And, if we confess with our mouths, having believed in our hearts, we can be saved. We will be saved from our sin, forgiven from our sin, and saved for everlasting life to be with God forever. That is good news!
The Needs are Great—Jesus saw. He felt compassion. Real compassion always leads to action. At the least, seeing the needs ought to lead us to the action of prayer.
The Harvest is Ready—As Christian cultural commentator Jim Denison writes: More people are coming to Christ today than at any time in Christian history.
The Workers are Few—What was true when Jesus spoke these words is still true today.
Confident in the Savior.
The early disciples of Jesus understood that the missionary endeavor depended upon prayer. As a matter of fact, they understood that everything depended upon prayer. We have this example to pray. Then, in Acts 13, we have another example to pray. Before sending out the first missionary team, the Bible says that the church met, fasted and prayed, then sent the team. The first great missionary, the Apostle Paul asked the Colossian church to pray for him with these words:
Devote yourselves to prayer; stay alert in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray for us that God may open a door to us for the message, to speak the mystery of the Messiah. (Colossians 4:2-3)
A Commitment that every Saved person can make.
We have multiple opportunities to go. This year, folks from our church have gone to Brazil, Haiti, Alaska, and Romania. We have a couple of young men who will go on our behalf in a few days to Nicaragua. We have people from our church who have been sent to the far corners of the world. We rejoice in this. Others have given. We all participate weekly when we give our offering to this local church. Not all can go. Not all can give, especially large sums of money. But here is something that every single person can do and yet few really do. We can all pray.
When Jesus cleared out the Temple that day and proclaimed, “It is written, My house will be called a house of prayer,” he was quoting the prophet Isaiah. For reasons that we will never know for sure, either Jesus did not give Isaiah’s whole statement or Matthew did not record that Jesus gave Isaiah’s whole statement. (This is more likely because the parallel passage of Mark 11:17 includes an additional phrase.) But, if we go to Isaiah 56:7, we learn that Isaiah had an additional phrase: “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.”
Let it be so!
(This post is based on the message “How to Pray for the Nations” which you can watch at fbclaf.org/video)