Part One of a Four-Part Series
Luke 10 is an incredibly important text for those who want to live a sent life.
After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go.
Here are my observations.
Living sent is not for a select few, for the inner circle of disciples or even just the twelve. Living sent is not just for professional ministers or pastoral staff or missionaries or the extremely gifted. Jesus appointed 72 others, the laity if you will. If you call yourself a Christian this mission charge is for you. This text is describing a way of life for every follower of Jesus.
Jesus first models this Kingdom Way of Life in his own ministry. Having modeled it he instructs the twelve to do the same things he did (Luke 9). And then, in a masterstroke that harbingers the promise of the priesthood of all believers, he sends out the Average Joe, seventy-two others. In doing so we must see that he’s also sending us.
In Luke 10:2 Jesus gives his first directive for how every believer is to go about making disciples who make disciples. We are sent to pray fervently.
He told them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’
This is how we are to go about ministry in Jesus’ name. This is the work of ministry. The church will rise or fall, the mission of making disciples who make disciples will either succeed or fail on the strength or feebleness of our prayer life.
Jesus explains why prayer is essential. We pray because the task ahead of us is immense, the harvest is plentiful.
Predisposed by God for the reception of the Gospel, men are likened to a crop of fully ripened grain ready for harvest.
We know the harvest is plentiful. That’s a given. How we go about harvesting is another matter. There are a gazillion books out there that will give you a technique or model to follow in order to see a disciple making movement. In opposition to most of those Jesus says we should pray. We pray because it’s His harvest. Not ours. He owns the fields. He’s the Lord of the Harvest.
If you are tired of trying to manufacture fruitfulness or going it alone then Jesus’ is commanding you to stop, repent of your hubris and self-importance, and begin by praying to him, the Lord of the Harvest. This is a command! Beg the Lord of the Harvest. Plead with him to raise up workers. This is not some weak, half-hearted milquetoast prayer. Nor is it a prayer to raise up workers in some other part of the world for the task of foreign missions. This prayer is a powerful, intense, passionate plea to the Lord of the Harvest concerning the fields right under our noses, the fields we have been sent into.
The unspoken consequences of not praying are clear. Without the hard work of prayer there will never be an adequate harvest, there will never be a sustained movement of reaping. The crop rots in the field. In other words, maybe the reason we haven’t seen a recent disciple-making movement here in the West is because we are trying to manufacture a work of God by means other than prayer.
Last week I had a conversation with a young missionary to France working with Agape Europe. He told me the story of how some from their team had recently traveled to India to observe a church planting movement. Their team longed to see a fresh work of God in Western Europe so they were open to learning something new. What they learned humbled them. Before going to a new village to plant the Gospel, prior to doing anything in Jesus’ name, these simple Indian believers prayed for three months. They simply asked God to show them who he was sending them to.
We have tried to do something similar in our missional community. Instead of wearing ourselves out with activities trying to draw people in we’ve begun to funnel that energy into praying to the Lord of the Harvest. We fully realize that we are the answer to our own prayers. God is sending us out as workers. And we believe he will show us who he is sending us to in our neighborhood when we pray.
Jesus says in John 6:29,
The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.
I’m starting to realize that it really is a work of God when a person, a pastor, a church rejects all the church growth models out there to simply take Jesus at his word and pray fervently. May we be a people of prayer for the sake of the Kingdom and the harvest. Live sent!
Coming soon…Part Two