I love when the young people in our church are involved in the worship service. Listening to Braden Seeley read the scripture passage on Sunday morning was such a blessing. You did a great job, Braden!
I hope you heard the words Braden read. They are important words for us to remember as we study the 9 Arts of Spiritual Conversations:
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.” (Ephesians 6:18-20).
Paul is writing from a Roman prison, yet he does not ask the Ephesians to pray that his chains would be removed, but that he would continue to speak fearlessly for Christ in spite of them. When we face difficult circumstances, we often pray for God to change those circumstances. But God can use us in any circumstance to do his will. We can pray about our circumstances, but we should pray most of all that God would accomplish his plan through us, right where we are. Knowing God’s eternal purpose for us will help us through a difficult time.
Part of God’s eternal purpose for us is to go and make disciples. The 9 Arts provide a manual that will allow each of us to accomplish that purpose. But sometimes we think that if we have just the right words to say, the person we want to reach will believe. But Braden’s scripture reading and Marc’s message from Sunday should wake us up to reality: Satan is alive and well, and the battle we wage is not against flesh and blood, “but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
There is virtually no part of our lives as believers where we are more in the battle against these forces we can’t see than when we are trying to have spiritual conversations with others, with the ultimate goal of making disciples. What warrior would go into battle without his most important weapon?
In the early 1980s, pastor and church planter Lon Allison planted his first church in California, in an X-rated movie theater. The marquee on the first Sunday read: “Now Showing—God XXX.” People came, and God used that church to transform lives.
Several years later, Allison planted a second church in a different community in the San Joaquin Valley. There was no X-rated theater there, but there was a theater, so they rented it. By this time, Allison had a seminary degree, and he worked even harder to plan and prepare for this opening. But hardly anyone came.
One day, Allison was driving through the fertile fields of this agricultural region and lamenting how much more difficult this church plant was than the first one. God gave him a vision of a giant hand hovering above the fields, and the hand was holding a huge, rock-hard clump of dirt. Allison understood this dirt to be the place they were trying to plant a church. He used his fist, a hammer….nothing could break up that clod of dirt. As he thought about this metaphor, rain began to fall down on the dirt. A gentle, continual rain began slowly but surely loosening the unbreakable clod of dirt.
Allison told some of his closest friends about his vision, and one of them spoke up immediately: “The rain is prayer,” he said. “The rain that breaks hardened hearts is the prayers of God’s people.”
When we pray about the people we’re trying to reach, it’s like a gentle rain that slowly but surely loosens up the hardness in the hearts of co-workers, neighbors, friends, classmates, and family. Author Rick Richardson puts it this way: “Before we can talk to people about God, we need to talk to God about people.” Amen.
Prayer: God, when we consider sharing our faith with others, we often think the responsibility is all ours. Lord, remind us in every situation that you will do the heavy lifting, if we will only call on you in prayer. Remind us Lord to talk to you first about the people we sense you want us to reach.