"But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare." (Jer 29.7, ESV)
One final look at God's instructions to His people through the prophet Jeremiah! We have thus far studied the welfare, seeking and sending aspects of this verse and this month we will concentrate on the lifeblood of our mission here on earth: prayer.
As God's people placed here and now, we are called to be the best members of this community as possible. Seeking the welfare (the wholeness, prosperity and well-being) of our town bears a responsibility to work for peace, encourage good practice, prosper safety, challenge injustice and promote reconciliation. Sounds utopian? Not when it's uttered in the light of our very own Prince of Peace, Jesus. Sounds like hard work? Absolutely.
Jesus Himself said that "The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few", which means plenty of overtime! Exhausting just to think about it, I know. But Jesus knew that, which is why He continued to say, "...therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest." (Matt 9.37-38). He was not saying that it means we pray for someone else to do the work! Read the following passage and you see He sends the apostles themselves out straight away! What He was saying was how much prayer is important for mission. We must pray for each other. An academic gospel (merely debating and philosophising) is not the Gospel. A social gospel (deeds but no Truth preached alongside) is not the Gospel. Both fail and both dishonour God. Words without works are dead. Works without the Word are dead. Which is why we must pray. Prayer brings us into communion with the Father. Prayer changes us. Prayer moulds our hearts to be more like His. Prayer lifts loved ones and lost souls to the great God of Grace, to our Saviour Jesus.
If we have no prayer, we lose purpose. If we lose purpose, we lose a heart for prayer. Which is why we must never let go of prayer in our Beacon family. Be it early mornings on Wednesday and Saturday, be it in our new Family Connections meetings, be it on Sundays, be it in our own rooms behind closed doors, be it in our cars and as we walk: never let go of prayer. It pumps the lifeblood of the Father through our hearts, inspiring us, reviving us and more importantly seeing breakthrough in the spiritual realm and in the community around us.
Martin Luther understood this completely, so I leave you with a profound quote from the man: "I have so much business I cannot get on without spending three hours daily in prayer". May it fuel our preaching by word AND deed.