Praying “for the Harvest” - Part 2
Thank you so very much for your prayers for our recent annual synod gathering in Abbotsford. The Lord graciously answered our prayers with a remarkable synod, filled with worship, teaching, fellowship, and a challenging charge from our diocesan bishop, Charlie Masters, that we be a people “for the harvest”. Synod concluded with a sense of peace, unity and hope for the Lord’s continued leading and direction for our future together.
Back in October, we took a first look at praying for the harvest, and what that might look like within the context of North American Anglicanism. Before we explore some very specific ways that we can pray for the harvest, let me add one last thought in shaping our perspective on this prayer focus.
As we have just begun the season of Advent where our hearts are poised both to celebrate the birth of our Saviour and to yearn deeply for His return, let us look at a promise that Jesus made concerning the link between the Gospel being preached and the second Advent.
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
Matthew 24: 14 ESV
This verse is taken from Mathew’s account of Jesus’ great discourse on the culmination of history as we have known it, and His return as King of kings. It would seem as if there is a direct correlation between the proclaiming of the Gospel throughout the whole world and the coming of the end of days. Much could be said about this, but surely then we must also “pray for the harvest” by eagerly anticipating the return of Jesus and allowing that yearning to inspire our prayer that the gospel of the Kingdom would be proclaimed throughout the whole world, to every nation and people group.
Now, let’s move on to some specific prayers. Over 160 years ago, the great evangelist, Charles Finney, made this powerful observation at a chapel service at Oberlin College in Ohio. Please hear in his exhortation a passionate urgency on the importance of prayer for the harvest. This is not optional or just something to be left to the “super-spiritual prayer warriors” in our midst.
“Unless the church is filled with the spirit of prayer, God will not send forth the labourers into His harvest. Plainly the command to pray for such labourers implies that God expects prayer, and will wait until it be made. The prayer comes into His plan as one of the appointed agencies, and can by no means be dispensed with. Doubtless it was in answer to prayer that God sent out such a multitude of strong men after the ascension. How obviously did prayer and the special hand of God bring in a Saul of Tarsus and send him forth to call in whole tribes and nations of the Gentile world!”
Charles Finney, Oberlin College, 1853
Let us pray for an increased personal and corporate burden for those who do not know Jesus, beginning with each of us repenting of our lethargy and lack of fervour concerning the lost, and praying for the heart of Jesus that we might care as He cares.
Let us pray that the mighty transforming power of the Gospel would be preached with great passion and urgency from every pulpit in ANiC. Pray for courage and Holy Spirit boldness for all who proclaim the Good News of Christ.
Let us pray for a renewed delight and excitement in the Gospel for every member of ANiC churches, both clergy and laity. Pray that we would be contagious in our joy and looking for every opportunity to share Jesus within our sphere of influence
Let us pray to the Lord of the Harvest to send out labourers of every ministry gifting so that many will be brought daily into His Kingdom and nurtured in His Church. Pray that the “labourers” would be kept safe and protected in their ministry environments as they preach the Gospel. Pray Psalm 91 for protection over them, their families and the fruit of their ministries.
Let us pray for the identifying and releasing in every ANiC parish of the ministry gift of evangelism amongst our lay people. Pray that the Lord will deliver us from any attitude that would suggest that only ordained clergy can lead someone to Christ. Pray for appropriate training for those called specifically to evangelism
Let us pray specifically by name for those that you know that do not yet having a saving relationship with Jesus. May our Sunday intercessions and our mid-week prayer gatherings be filled with the sounds of our crying out to the Lord on their behalf! The stakes are so incredibly high – heaven to be gained, and hell to be shunned!
Pray also for those who have actively rebelled or drifted away from the Lord. Pray that the Lord would restore “the joy of his salvation” as he brings them home.
Let us pray that all of our prayers “for the harvest” would be informed by our joy-filled anticipation of the Lord’s glorious return! Pray that the gospel of Christ would indeed be proclaimed throughout the whole world, to every nation and people group!
Lord of the harvest, we so yearn for your return! We pray for the salvation of the many world-wide who have never even heard the Gospel message. We ask you to send out labourers of every ministry gifting so that many will be brought daily into your Kingdom and nurtured in your Church.
Holy Spirit, we invite you to burst into our services of worship in a fresh, new way. May the presence of God overwhelm us and the power of God be released to transform hopeless, twisted and broken lives and relationships.
We add the cry of our hearts to that of the apostle John in his plea, “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!”