Monday, 24 October 2011

Evangelist's Care for his Spiritual Children

Praying and preaching go hand in hand. I do not just mean
by this that .our sermons must be begotten and nurtured by
prayer, or that we must pray for ourselves before we mount
the pUlpit steps, but that we must pray for those to whom we
preach. It cannot have escaped us how the Lord.] esus would
spend the day preaching and teaching, and then go out into
the hills alone to pray for those to whom He had ministered;
nor with what regularity Paul assured his friends whom he
instructed in his Epistles that he also prayed for them, yes, all
of them, and that without ceasing. This is the balanced ministry,
to 'devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the
.And only love will make us thus diligent, for prayer is hard
work and secret work. Because it is an exacting ministry, we
shall make time for it only if we love people enough not to'
deny them its benefit. Because it is secret and therefore unrewarded
by men, we shall undertake it only if we long for
their spiritual welfare more than for their thanks. Paul could
write: 'Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for
Israel is, that they might be saved." This is the meaning' of
prayer. It is an expression of the heart's desire. Intercession
is impossible without love. Let Richard Baxter put it succinctly
for us: 'Prayer must carry on our work as well as preaching:
he preacheth not heartily to his people, that will not pray
for them."
We do not have this love for people by nature; we can ·receive
it only by grace. By nature we are selfish, lazy, and
hungry for the praise of men. There is only one way to learn
to love, and that is, to yearn for people, in Paul's phrase, 'with
the affection of Christ Jesus'.' If His unsearchable, unquenchable
love for people could fill us, we could love them with
His love. And such love, utterly un-self-regarding, preoccupied
only with the positive good of others even at a cost to ourselves,
will make us· care for our people, as a father cares for
his children. Such love will make us understanding and gentle,
simple and earnest, consistent in our example and conscientious
in our prayers.

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