I think many if not most Christians find it challenging to take time for something as impractical as prayer. I learned many things in school, but the practice of solitude or silent contemplation was not one of them. Jesus seems silly to us when he scans the crowds with compassion in his eyes and then tells his disciples to pray. “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few,” Jesus says, “therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Matt. 9: 37-38). We wish Jesus had said, “The harvest is huge…so get out there and go to work.” Instead, he calls a prayer meeting!
Of course, Jesus’ call to prayer does not mean we should react to someone bleeding to death in front of us by organizing a prayer meeting (that might come later). Check Matt. 9: 35 and you’ll find that Jesus called his disciples to pray after he himself had been out in the field “proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness.” In other words, Jesus was a first responder -- as surely as the LA City Fire and Police Dept. were first responders when a portion of the 15 freeway collapsed after last week’s big storm.
The truth is, prayer is not just our first response, it’s our second, and our third response too. Like emergency personnel who are in continuous communication with their dispatcher, prayer is how we stay in continuous communication with the Savior who has sent us. It’s a good bet that no one knows the value of prayer better than many first responders. Their eyes are wide open. They see the tremendous need. They understand the limits of what they can do.
In this spirit of total reliance on the grace and power of God, I want to invite you to join me in a 40 day venture of sustained, hope-filled prayer for the ministry of St. John’s, for our families, our neighbors, our community, our nation, and God’s work around the world.
We will start this season of prayer with a special Ash Wednesday Service next week, March 1st at 7:00AM. We hope that the early morning hour will make it easier for you to participate and then get off to work. Andrew Kriske will be sharing a special Ash Wednesday message. Following a time of prayer, I will offer the imposition of ashes, making the sign of the cross on your forehead or hand.
Ash Wednesday will mark the beginning of our 40 days of sustained prayer, using the Seek God for the City prayer guide. We will have 50 hard copies available this Sunday for $1.50 or you may buy the app for your android or apple device with the same content for $.99 cents. Simply go to: https://waymakers.org/product/seek-god-app-activation/.
Our season of sustained prayer will conclude with special Holy Week Services on Passion Sunday 10:15am April 9, Holy Thursday 7:30pm April 13, Good Friday 12noon April 14, and Easter Sunday 10:15 April 16. More details about a prayer & fasting chain during Holy Week will be forthcoming.
Listen to Jesus again: “Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers....” The strong verb ekballō means “to cast out or throw out.” It is really a request that God would catapult workers into the harvest field with his message and ministry! It’s a prayer that God would launch us from our church pews, into a world of need - to the harassed, the helpless, the sick, the lonely, the grieving, and the spiritually searching all around us. Jesus asks us to pray not just because the need is great, but because his heavenly Father is greater; not because he wants us to sit on our hands, but because the first response that God inspires is what this world truly needs.