Tuesday, September 23, 2014

When your heart breaks for the world—PRAY

Woman reading a newspaper
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Matthew 9:27-38

"Then He said to His disciples, 'The harvest truly is plentiful, but the labourers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into His harvest.' " Matthew 9:37,38

Gary Wilkerson tells the following story in the book David Wilkerson: The Cross, the Switchblade, and the Man Who Believed.

In 1957 David Simmons was pastoring the Brooklyn Presbyterian Church. But the glory days of the beautiful old structure seemed in the past. The neighborhood had become the headquarters for the feared Mau Mau gang and weekly church attendance was below 100.

One morning Simmons saw the police right outside his building, loading two bleeding men onto stretchers after a shootout. The neighborhood violence and bloodshed sickened him and he began coming to the church early in the morning to pray. " ' My prayer,' he says, 'was that God would thrust worthy laborers into the harvest field' " David Wilkerson, Kindle Location 1030.

Meanwhile in a small town in Pennsylvania, young David Wilkerson was restless and dissatisfied with pastoring his predictable, self-absorbed church. He began spending his afternoons in prayer, asking God to show him the more he hankered for. One day when he took a break from praying, he glanced at a Time Magazine that told the story of the Michael Farmer trial. Michael Farmer was a defenseless white kid with polio who had been senselessly murdered by a bunch of teens on a New York street. 

Wilkerson felt anguish: "Anguish over the senseless murder of a defenseless boy. Anguish over the seething hurt and deprivation that had boiled over in the boys who had committed it. And, finally, anguish over their fate, the waste of every life involved" - David Wilkerson, KL 1246.

That day was a turning point in Wilkerson's life. He ended up moving to New York, becoming an evangelist to New York's drug addicts and gang members, and founding Teen Challenge. In other words, he became the answer to a praying pastor's prayers.

I find it interesting that in our reading today, Jesus didn't say to the disciples, "You go and be laborers in God's harvest" but " '…pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers.' "

Sometimes we're not the people for the job on the ground. But we're always the people who need to respond to the burdens of this world, its weary scattered sheep that move our hearts to compassion, with prayer.

Dear God, I need Your tender compassionate heart that weeps over the world's heartbreaks and finds its most effective release in prayer. Amen. 

MORE: Photos that move to tears

A photo gallery from Boston.com illustrates the current plight of Syrian Kurdish refugees flooding into Turkey.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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