[Revision 2017 is forty plus days of prayer for spiritual renewal in us as individuals and as a church that we might be used to bring renewal to our neighborhoods. We will conclude with our Good Friday celebration just before Easter.]
Week Four: A heart for the lost
Matthew 28:18-20 "And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (ESV)
This great commissioning of the church comes from Jesus after his resurrection, after the wrath of God against sin had been met and the radical reorienting work of grace began to unfold in the world. It is a time the church when it doesn't even know it is a church, is looking for the answer to "what's next?" And this is it. To go, as we go, everywhere we go, making disciples. Teaching people about Jesus and what it means to live as a believer, as a child of God.
But put these words on our lips today and there is more sentimentality to them then there is a mission. And this is a gravely unfortunate thing. This message comes today filtered through our highest value, self, and the noise of busy lives and demands for our attention that are vastly different than "making disciples." Shoot, we even argue about what it means to make disciples all along missing the point and not making any disciples while we pontificate and organize in our camps.
Well, we are asking the Holy Spirit to do something new in us as a church. That we would be given a heart for the lost, a desire internally, gutturally, to see people come to faith in Jesus. This is not a prayer for a scheme or strategy, but simply and at the same time profoundly that we would yearn for the lost to be saved.
We are asking that in giving us this heart the Spirit would make us workers in the field that we would witness and partake in the harvest, making disciples, maturing together in Christ. And that we would be sent out by Christ to make much of his name. "And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest." Luke 10:2 (ESV)
Let's pray this week as the Apostle Paul does in one of his letters to the church. 1 Thessalonians 3:12 "may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you." (ESV)
Lord, by you Spirit, gives us a heart for the lost. Make this heart ours as individuals and as a church. Make your love increase and abound for one another and for all, for those in need of you. Help us to see those in our lives that you love and desire to be in a relationship with. Empower us to speak the gospel to them and disciple them in all that you have taught. Make our church a haven of rest for the weary, lonely, broken and poor in spirit. Give us vision for the lost in love for them. Amen.
Join us Thursday at 7 pm for prayer toward this end. For some practical steps you can take to foster a heart for the lost check this out from The Gospel Coalition.