Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Building Relationships Through Prayer

When you get a moment, sit down and open your Bible to Luke 10:1–17. This is a familiar passage where Jesus sends out seventy of His close followers on mission. The sub-headings in my Bible for the surrounding context are “Exacting Discipleship” (Luke 9:57–62) and “The Happy Results” (Luke 10: 17–29). Are there any followers of Christ who would deny their desire to experience “happiness” in relationship with Him? Are we willing to align ourselves up with the demanding (exacting) requirements necessary for that level of vibrant relationship? 

Every follower should want to achieve the same goals as his or her leader; if possible they should want a close relationship with the leader of their movement/organization. The requirement to be a close disciple of Jesus is found in Luke 9:60b, “Go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.” Ask yourself if there is any way to please God and grow close to Christ without proclaiming His kingdom to the world around you. You may think, “What about worship? What about growing in the knowledge of God? What about teaching the saints? Don’t these disciplines result in God’s pleasure?” Ultimately each one of these pursuits loses its authenticity without the accompaniment of the intentional mission we’ve been given by our leader. Think about it. 

The key for “closeness” to our Leader is found in the commissioning of Jesus’ disciples here in Luke ten. Outreach is the defining characteristic of any follower of Christ. In between the definition of discipleship (Luke 9) and the happy results (Luke 10:17) we are given a clear outline as to how we should proceed in our outreach. 

Beseech the Lord of the Harvest

The first point that Jesus made with the seventy was to pray to the Lord for help. Verse two, where we see this instruction, begins with the words “He was saying to them.” The verb tense for “saying” carries the idea that Jesus consistently told the seventy they should pray to God for the help. Picture a group of people walking out of the church, while they are going someone at the door is reminding everyone to pray for help. The person repeats it again and again, “Don’t forget to pray.” That’s the idea here. If we want success in outreach, we can’t forget to pray to the one who is in control. Do we approach outreach in this manner? Do we spend more time in prayer than we do in worrying about how we will be received? Do we spend more time in prayer than learning a methodology? We are a church whose stated vision is we pray before everything—we are committed to preemptive prayer. Is that an aspiration or is it a reality? We must begin any outreach by crying out to God for help. 

Pray For and Connect with Partners

This passage tells us that Jesus selected seventy and then organized and sent them out in pairs. We know the crowds that followed Jesus were larger than seventy. In chapter 9 of Luke Jesus fed over five thousand of His followers. Yet Jesus appointed only 70. Pray that God would raise up and appoint an outreach partner(s) for you. Don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t turn out to be your whole friend group. Every morning at 10:02 my alarm goes off as a reminder to pray to the Lord that He raise up leaders for the harvest. I’m praying for ministry partners—like-minded brothers and sisters in Christ—to be on mission with me as we go to reach our community for Christ. I’ll be honest with you, I have struggled with frustration when only a few have responded and are on mission with me. Don’t become paralyzed in frustration because there are only a few in your circle who are like-minded; but rather remember that the harvest is plentiful and there are only a few laborers.

Pray and Look for Persons of Peace

In verse six Christ instructs His disciples to seek out a person of peace and when that person is found, they should stop and not go to any other homes. How often do we “go out” with our own agenda in mind? We set our sites on a family member or a friend only to be responded to negatively. When they don’t respond positively (peacefully) we get discouraged and stop our efforts? Or how often do we have a positive conversation with someone, invite them to church, only to then move on to the next “house” convincing ourselves we have fulfilled our obligation? Jesus instructed us to seek out the person of peace and stay there with them. 

We are to advance the kingdom of God through our outreach and experience happy results by following the Lord’s clear outline found here: Pray to the Lord for help, Pray for partners, and Pray for persons of peace. Won't you join us. 

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