The Bare Soul - February 5, 2012
Intercessory Evangelism

Matthew 9:38 - Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.

Many of us who have grown up on farms or in agrarian cultures understand the importance of the harvest. A harvest can be compared to when a woman gives birth---neither are waiting for a more convenient time. When it is time, it is time. I remember hearing stories of my father's family in pre-World War II Texas working in the fields along with the hired pickers. When the window of opportunity was open to pick the cotton, it was best to take full advantage. If the seedlings survived the cutworms in the spring, and the summer drought and boll weevils, then the cotton would require picking when it was finally mature in order to get it to the gin in a timely manner. Tillers of the earth in our culture as well as those in ancient Palestine certainly understood Jesus' parables and similes regarding farming. His audience undoubtedly knew the significance of his parable of the sower in Matthew 13, but were remiss in tying its importance to spiritual matters. Therefore, when Jesus was instructing the disciples on evangelism in regard to the woman at the well, He poignantly made the following observation,

Do you not say, "There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest"? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest. (John 4:35)

We can understand from this and other statements of Christ that the harvest was plenteous if the disciples would only see with spiritual eyes. The harvest was ripe for the proverbial picking. Yet, who or what prepared this spiritual crop for its eventual reaping or tragic disregard?

Jesus clearly modeled intercessory prayer in the Gospels (Matthew 14:23; Matthew 26:36; Mark 6:46; Luke 5:16; John 17). In most of these instances, we don't specifically know what prayers he prayed. We can be sure He was praying for people---not only for the salvation of those contemporary with His first advent, but also for the salvation of those in the following millennia. Jesus reveals His grand plan of intercessory evangelism from His High Priestly prayer,

I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. (John 17:20-21)

How many have believed in the Lord Jesus as a result of the words of the apostles? Not only in Paul and Peter's day were tens of thousands added to the church "through their word," but millions have since been added through their witness in the Scriptures. I suggest souls are coming to the Lord, even today, as a result of Jesus' prayers nearly 2,000 years ago. And, not only Christ's prayers, but also the apostles who modeled prayers throughout their letters on behalf of the church and the unsaved. (See Ephesians 1:17-19; Ephesians 3:16-19; Philippians 1:9-11; Colossians 1:9-12 just for a few examples from Paul's writings.) These prayers, along with countless others throughout the ages, have been fueling the engines of evangelism and bringing Christ the reward for His suffering. In the Book of Revelation, we get a glimpse of the heavenly drama which is played out before the throne of grace regarding prayer. John writes the following,

When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. (Revelation 5:8)

It is not clear from just this scripture, but it is safe to say the prayers of the saints are continually before God's throne in the heavenly sanctuary. Another scripture in Revelation testifies to this fact,

Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, so that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne. (Revelation 8:3)

Through these verses, we have a picture of the eternal throne room and the business of heaven transpiring. Amidst the continual glorification of the Almighty is the work of the saints---the custodian of the prayers of all believers. Even Jesus, we are told, continues to make intercession on our behalf to the Father (Hebrews 7:25). And, not only for our behalf, but also for all those ordained to become His sons and daughters who have yet to experience eternal life. We can surmise from all the past and present prayer being offered up on heaven's altar, that souls are being reaped into the kingdom this very moment because of these aforementioned petitions. Some have watered with tears of sorrow for the lost, while others have reaped because of these intercessions. As Jesus told us, we must lift up our eyes for the fields are ready for a great harvest. The end-time revival we will see in these last days will pale with any in history. This, beloved, will be the culmination of prayers throughout the centuries for this final ingathering. We must not shrink from continuing to pray for the lost as we join in prayer with our Lord and entrust our petitions to those who have gone before us. The field is white, but the laborers are few. The window of opportunity is open for a only a short time longer. We must intercede both in prayer and in action, beseeching heaven and prevailing upon mortal men for the hope of reconciliation of their souls to our gracious God.

Heavenly Father, May faith grow in our hearts knowing lives are ripe for harvest! May we sway men's hearts as we reap the prayers of the saints for heaven's sake! May the Lamb who suffered much be honored through our obedience! In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Your Barefoot Servant,

Rick

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