“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:17-20).
Over the years God has laid nations on my heart, both personally and in the heart of churches I have pastored. There has always been a cost involved in asking God for these nations. When He has granted them to us, we have had to be willing to become involved with them and obediently follow through with God regarding His plans for them. Asking God for the nations has also had an effect upon our children as they too have acquired a heart for the nations: one serving in Norway, one in Germany and two others making their way into the nations of Africa. Although this has been “costly,” it has brought much joy with Jesus (Jn. 15:9-16). Jesus said the reason He told them all this was so His joy would be in His disciples and their joy would be full. This has been preeminently true in our family; even as I write, two of my sons and my wife and I are ministering in Africa. Our involvement with God in the redemption of the world is vital.
Again, it must be as God has eternally purposed it. God loved the world and sent His Son into the world. But we are reminded that “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself” (2 Cor. 5:19). God was working in and through His Son to redeem the world. Gethsemane’s, “not My will, but Yours be done” (Lk. 22:42) was preeminently the Father’s moment of victory. All the Father had purposed and accomplished over the centuries now rested in His Son’s total obedience. The Father, in Christ, now completed His work to redeem the world. This is still true today. The salvation of the world now rests on us, His children. It rests on our total denial of self, then picking up of our cross, and our obedience in following our Lord. This is why Jesus prayed for His disciples, and not the world. As goes His disciples, so goes the redemption of the world. We pray more effectively for the world by praying not for the world, but for God’s people.
Lord of the Harvest, please give me a deep desire for the salvation of the nations, and the courage to act despite what it may cost me and my family. Help me to press into Your compassion for the world by interceding fervently for workers to go into Your ripe harvest fields, understanding that one of them could be me, or someone in my own family! May I be ready to sacrifice with a heart of joy in order to participate in your redemption of the world!
–Adapted from Chapter 61 of Giving Ourselves to Prayer: An Acts 6:4 Primer for Ministry (The Bible and Global Prayer) by Henry Blackaby. This resource is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount on the book.
Praise God for his sovereignty. Thank him for using ordinary people to prompt effectiveness in the Christian movement. Confess those occasions when you knew God was calling you to take a stand . . . and you didn’t. Commit yourself to depending on God’s power with renewed faith to act on those opportunities which shape the church of tomorrow (Col. 4:5-6). Ask, “Lord, what can I do to bring about positive change in your church?”
Pray that your worship together reflects a celebration of who God is. Pray for the empowerment of all God’s children to use their gifts and talents in service of the sovereign Lord.
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