This month is probably the single most important month in our church’s history. Exaggeration? Not on your life!
Never before have we put our resources, our time and ourselves into something to the degree that we’ve done with ‘A Passion for Life’. We first started talking about this mission 18 months ago. And it’s been on the agenda ever since. That’s a long time of sustained planning and preparation. We’re all excited but exhausted.
If you’re anything like me you can’t wait for it to happen but you can’t wait for it to be over; strange feeling. We have some wonderful events taking place to which we can invite friends, colleagues and neighbours. We have some terrific speakers like Al Stewart, Tim Keller, Rico Tice, Dr Rebecca Davies and Professor John Lennox. But I like the way that my diary looks in April and May; empty! Since the New Year there’s barely been a free evening. And the last few weeks have been especially hectic. But can you think of a better reason to be busy? I can’t. If I’m going to collapse in a heap during the Easter holidays, I want it to have been for something worthwhile. And what could be more worthwhile than giving my all for Christ and getting fully involved in ‘A Passion for Life’? You agree?
But can I ask one last thing from you? Would that be OK? We’ve worked so hard for the gospel these last few months and rest is coming. But let’s not fall at the last fence! The one last thing is the most important thing of all. Will you pray? Whatever your pattern of prayer has been like, will you pray? You may have been incredibly prayerful. You may have been terribly prayerless. Regardless of how well or how badly you’ve done so far, will you pray?
In Paul’s letter to the church in Colossae he had these words of instruction.
2Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.
‘A Passion for Life’ was planned to help churches like ours, in collaboration with other local churches, to do what we can to help people outside the church. And the first thing we should do is pray. We may be just an ordinary bunch of Christian believers but the one thing we can do is speak to God and seek his blessing on our efforts to make his gospel known and to bring glory to his Son.
Paul says that there are three things for which we can pray every day between now and the end of the mission.
1. pray for opportunity
Paul asked that God would ‘open a door for his message’. We want God to open doors that would otherwise be closed to us. Of course, we’ll do all that we can to manufacture situations where the natural thing to do would be to share our faith or provide a Christian perspective on things. But we want him to create all sorts of unexpected opportunities for us to talk about God, Jesus and the Bible. So let’s pray that God gives us our big break to say something significant in these next few weeks.
2. pray for audacity
I’m not sure that this is exactly what Paul had in mind, but he did want people to pray ‘so that they would proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am in chains’. Perhaps he had in mind that in the light of his imprisonment they ought not to be timid and cowardly. Instead they had to take a stand for the gospel and declare it. We want to be able to speak about the gospel, don’t we? We’d love there to be loads of conversations this Easter all about Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and return. We know that by nature we’re timid and reluctant. We don’t always speak up when we should. We’re aware of how little of our speech has to do with the gospel. And we wish it was different. So let’s pray that it is.
3. pray for clarity
Paul asked that they would pray that he would ‘proclaim it clearly, as he should’. We want every single conversation, talk and sermon to be unmistakably clear. We want the gospel to be explained so that it’s just obvious what’s so amazing about Christ. So let’s pray for ourselves and the conversations that we might have. And let’s pray especially for the speakers at our events. They may be some of the most experienced speakers in the Christian Church but they still need us to ask God to equip them with the capacity to make the wonderful gospel plain to those who are blind to its beauty.
There’s not long to go. We’re nearly at the finish line. It’ll soon be over. We’re in the finishing straight. So let’s pick up the pace and in these last few days, let’s pray!