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Resolution #7 – Praying Through Important News Items
This week we look at the seventh of Chuck Lawless’ 10 Cross-Cultural Mission related New Year’s Resolutions. Even if we are well into the new year now (OK, we are not there yet in the Chinese world), they are still important. The seventh resolution says: “I will listen to and read the news through a Great Commission lens. As you learn what’s happening in the world, think about what might be happening spiritually in countries in the news. Pray for believers and missionaries there. Then, pray for the people there who don’t know Jesus. Don’t be exasperated by the news — let it drive you to your knees.”
The encouragement is to respond to news bulletins or online news-feeds by praying. There is an obvious place to start, which is in 1 Timothy 2:1-7. Paul, writing to the young Timothy, instructs: “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all.”
Paul’s intent is that we have a clear bottom line in our prayers, which is that in whatever situation we are praying for, the result would be freedom for the gospel to be preached and for men and women as a result of that to come to Christ. How that works out is in the Lord’s hands, not ours. The result of our prayers might not be that the situation we are praying for immediately clears up for the best and is resolved, simply because ongoing pressure might cause the folk involved in that situation to turn to the Lord. Equally, where there is a situation in which a political leadership is blocking the preaching of the gospel, there Paul’s teaching would encourage us to pray for political change so that the gospel could be preached openly and “all men (might have the opportunity to hear the Gospel and) be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” The bottom line then is that the gospel should be preached in each situation and that men, women and children should have the opportunity to respond.
That needs to be balanced with another kind of prayer, which is that our hearts should grow to be like that of the Lord Jesus. We read in Matt 9:36-38 that “when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. 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.’” Here is an invitation to another kind of prayer, that the Lord would raise up labourers to go and minister the gospel and give practical help in those situations for which we are praying.
There is certainly no shortage of such situations in our time. The war involving Israel and Hamas and its wider implications in other nations. The situation with the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Myanmar or the Sudan or a number of other countries. Or the 50 or more national elections taking place this year – Pakistan and Indonesia recently, Russia coming shortly, America and Britain later in the year, to mention but a few.
If you want to go beyond paddling in the shallow waters in this matter of praying for different world situations, I would recommend reading Norman Grubb’s book “Rees Howells, Intercessor”. That is graduate school, as it were, in this matter. “Throughout the war the whole Bible College of Wales that Rees Howells had founded prayed each day from 7.00pm to midnight with a break for a meal, in addition to one or two other prayer meetings each day. About a hundred people were on their knees throughout the war. There was particularly intense prayer at the time of Dunkirk, the Blitz, and the Battle of Britain. One of the outstanding guidances of the war occurred in 1941 (when Britain was in grave danger of being invaded). Rees Howells announced that the Lord had told him that Hitler’s forces were to be turned south towards the Mediterranean area and also that Hitler was preparing to attack Russia instead. No such eventuality was indicated in any way at the time, but several weeks later, the telephone rang in the school and Rees Howells said: “Have you heard the news this morning? Hitler has attacked Russia”. It was a mistake that cost Hitler a huge price, and Britain was not invaded!
When God’s people intercede, God intervenes.
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