Let’s Make it a Week of PRAYER

Years ago when I began Bible study in earnest, I found things that caused reflection (and still do!). One was found in Matthew 6:19-21 where Jesus says,  “Don’t store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

I wondered, if you “can’t take it with you,” then how do you store up treasures in heaven?

Well, study the Bible enough and along the way you discover the interconnectedness of Scripture.  One day I read from Revelation 4-5 the vision of heaven given to John. He describes the throne room of heaven in chapter 4 and the scroll and the Lamb in chapter 5.  Notice Rev. 5:7-8.  “He went and took the scroll out of the right hand of the one seated on the throne. When he took the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and golden bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of the saints.”

The prayers of the saints. When we pray, we lay up treasures in heaven. My friend Larry Martin likes to refer to these as “prayers on deposit.”

In Revelation 14 we read again about the Lamb and those who will be in heaven and those who will not be.  Rev. 14:6, 13 says: “Then I saw another angel flying high overhead, with the eternal gospel to announce to the inhabitants of the earth—to every nation, tribe, language, and people…..Then I head a voice from heaven saying, ‘Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on’ ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘so they will rest from their labors, since their works follow them.’”

The deeds of the saints. These are the ministries we do in Jesus’ name which includes giving as well as all the types of things listed in Matthew 25 where Jesus said,  “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me”  (Matt. 25:40 CSB).

This is the Week of Prayer for International Missions. At one time WMU groups would gather daily and pray.  Unfortunately, we don’t do that much any more.  Today I asked myself: Why?

First, we believed the lie that we could just pray on our own and that would be enough, missing the point that there is intensity when we gather with others to pray.  (This thinking is prevalent in most of our churches. Just look at the number who gather to pray each week.)

Second we jump too quickly to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and focus on the amount raised. The offering is vital, but this is first a week of prayer.

If you look at the 2017 Week of Prayer brochure, you notice that the way it is folded shows just half of the man’s face on the front. But if you open it and lay it flat, you see his entire face. I noticed on the brochure that one side says Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and the other says Week of Prayer, providing an illustration that our international missions emphasis is not complete without both prayer and the offering. We need both the prayers of the saints and the deeds of the saints!

The Day 8 reading in the prayer guide is a message from David Platt which reminds us that prayer matters.  He says, “It isn’t just a rushed or mechanical exercise. God has ordained our prayer as a means to accomplish His purpose in the world. We’ve got to be aware that our praying for boldness for missionaries is actually going to affect whether or not they have boldness. When we pray, God works.”

So this week, let us pray. And it is my prayer that praying will then inspire giving sacrificially that the gospel will go forth to transform lives around the world.

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