Dear Church Family,
In my last years in college and my first years in seminary, I was very influenced by the work and preaching of George Whitefield. He was an extraordinary preacher of what is now known as the first Great Awakening.
One of the stories about Whitefield that intrigued me had to do with his preaching in Philadelphia, and it was recorded not by Whitefield himself but by Benjamin Franklin.
This is just before the American revolution, and Philadelphia was one of the most important cities in the colonies. It would eventually be the place where the Continental Congress would meet and declare our national independence from Great Britain and King George.
Whitefield was there prior to those events, but Franklin was already a fixture in the city. Philadelphia, with its cobble stone streets and fine federal-period buildings, was a busy place when Whitefield and Franklin were there, and the great inventor/statesman prowled its streets and frequented its taverns.
Writing of his friend the Reverend George Whitefield’s ministry, he said that before Whitefield came to Philadelphia there was a tavern on every corner, and walking the streets at night you could hear drunken tunes seeping out from under every door and out of every window, block by block.
Then Whitefield came and began preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ in that besotted town and a few weeks later, says Franklin, you could hear hymns and Scripture being sung and read from the houses on every block.
With this story fresh in my mind and heart, I went down to the center of Philadelphia, Bible in hand, to preach the Gospel on the streets that intersected at City Hall, one of the busiest sections of the city.
It did not change the city. Several occasions produced only mild interest from a few, ridicule from a few more, but for the most part, the people passed by with a pre-occupied disinterest.
To watch masses of people streaming by with little if any attention, reminded me then of how much prayer is needed when it comes to the work of the Kingdom.
It is too easy to assume, that because we are faithfully doing what God has commended, that it will be effectual. It is also too easy to underestimate how the Enemy will use any means to hinder the work of Christ.
We need, beloved, a passion for the work of the Kingdom of Christ. That ought to be the Christian’s first burden, especially in times like these. The most important business in the world is the business of our King, and in some places in the world it has come almost to a standstill during these last few months. In some nations, the virus has been used as an excuse to repress churches and even destroy some works.
It is serious when the virus makes someone who is vulnerable ill, and his or her life is placed in jeopardy. It is more serious when the work of the life-saving Gospel is hindered. Now, we know that nothing that is being done is preventing the Lord from carrying out all His holy will, and that none of the elect are lost because the work is hindered in some way, but we also know that we are encouraged in the Word to pray for the work of that Kingdom. It demonstrates our interest in it and our concern and burden for it. It shows that we know that without Christ we can do nothing, but that with Him all things are possible.
Standing out there on the streets of that busy city, I realized that I hadn’t prayed enough about what I was doing, or for the city itself, or for the work of the Kingdom in that great metropolis. Before I pleaded with the hearts of men, I needed more time pleading from the heart with God.
PRAYING FOR THE WORK OF THE KINGDOM
Matthew 9:37-38 Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”
For the spread of the Word of the Gospel
2 Thessalonians 3:1-2 Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you, and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith.
For those who preach the Gospel that they might be bold.
Ephesians 6:19-20 And for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
That doors would be opened, for the courage to take advantage of those open doors, and for lives to be changed.
Colossians 4:2-4 Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains, that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.