Two quotes have grabbed my attention this past week. The first from Nicky Gumbel – “Many people see only a hopeless end; but with Jesus you can enjoy an endless hope.” The second from Justin Welby during a recent television interview – “We can do nothing as Christians without a foundation of prayer”. Quotations articulating two intertwining threads, but with the common theme of communication, one with our Heavenly Father, and the other with a lost and dying world around us. Both these threads are fundamental to the Christian life.
Jesus exampled prayer. He taught His disciples how to pray. His ministry was impregnated with prayer. In John 10:30, Jesus declared that He was one with His Father. He was both God and man, but He still needed to commune with His Father, sometimes spending long hours in prayer with Him. And at the end of His ministry His selfless act at Calvary became the most significant event this world has ever seen. Is there a connection between His sacrificial death and His time spent in prayer? There has to be. Remember His prayers in Gethsemane?
And in Matthew 28, Jesus commissioned His disciples (and are we not His disciples?) to make “disciples of all the nations”. By bringing the Gospel into every opportunity afforded to them (and us). But “who?” and “where?” are questions that have to be answered as otherwise we could be in danger of wasting our time and resources. Only prayer could have preceded Jesus’ visit to the Pool of Bethesda, where he picked out just one man among many for His healing touch. And only prayer can bring into focus God’s will and purpose for reaching those heading for a “hopeless end”. So where do we begin?
The beginning has to be on our knees. How else will we see our mandate confirmed and resourced? How else will we receive the instructions, clarifying the who and where? How else will we receive a prayer-backed, Heaven-inspired answer so essential before we venture into this world around us, riven as it is by so many issues, conflicts, distractions and miseries. The Great Commission methodology in 2019 is less likely to be a street corner, tract-based, sandwich board, “Turn or Burn”, preach, but more likely to be relationship-based, as the Holy Spirit leads us up from our knees to share the pleas from a God so filled with love, that He is desperate that none shall be lost (2 Peter 3:9). And this love encompasses our families, friends, neighbours, even “divine encounters” in the street. At least, that is, until God brings a Holy Spirit revival to this land once again, cutting through the issues of the day, and instead bringing a day far more important than the issues. Where people will once again connect with our Creator, realising their sinfulness and crying out, “How can I be saved?”. Then everything changes, and, as happened in the First Century, the world will be turned upside down once again.
So bring on revival Lord, but as we prayerfully wait, lets double and redouble our efforts in prayer and expect our Heavenly Father to speak to us, offering the insight into His will and purposes that we so desperately need. In my dog-walking meanderings through the local community, I pick out households and pray for a spirit of revival to visit them. He will one day!