When We Pray, God Works

Last Sunday we started our new series on Acts and I preached on Acts 1:1-9 but focused mostly on verse 8. There we saw that God has called the church in each generation to share the gospel with those around them (Jerusalem), those different than them (Samaria), and those far away from them (the ends of the earth). When you read a verse like Acts 1:8 (or Matthew 28:16-20 or Luke 24:46-49) the obvious question that arises is, “How can I help take the gospel to the ends of the Earth when I live in Columbia, MO?” How can I possibly make a difference for the gospel on the other side of the world?

Perhaps the most obvious (but also most overlooked) way to be a part of what God is doing around the world is prayer. God loves to move in response to the prayers of his people. For example look at Matthew 9:35-38…

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.

Problem: There are a lot of people who would come to faith in Christ but there are not enough Christians talking to people about the gospel.

Solution: Pray and ask God to send Christians into the world.

Of course one problem with telling any of us to pray is that we are wired by our culture and our sin nature to work more and pray less. We have a sense that if we want something done, we’re better off just trying to get it done ourselves. There’s an old saying that kind of puts that attitude in its proper perspective…

When man works, man works;
When man prays, God works.

Anyone who looks at the spiritual needs of the world and contemplates addressing those needs is profoundly aware of how much we need God to work. If God doesn’t raise up people to go to the world with the gospel, if God doesn’t soften people’s hearts to believe the gospel, if God doesn’t open “closed” countries so that Christians can worship with some degree of freedom, then none of this is ever going to happen.

John 15:5…”I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

There are at least two great resources that will help you pray for the world. Operation World is a book that we stock in our bookstore at The Crossing. It lists countries in alphabetical order and then explains the spiritual condition of those countries and give specific prayer requests. The Joshua Project makes the same kind of information available on the web and gives you a people group to pray for each day.

If you are ready to take the next step in becoming involved in world missions, if you are ready to take the next step in becoming a world Christian, you might want to take advantage of these resources and pray even once a week for the people of the world. If you have kids, I think that they’d love to learn about other countries and pray for them with you.

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