One Sunday morning, a young child was "acting up" during the worship service. The parents did their best to maintain some sense of order in the pew but were losing the battle. Finally, the father picked up the culprit and walked sternly down the aisle on his way out. Just before reaching the safety of the foyer, the boy called loudly to the congregation, "PRAY FOR ME! PRAY FOR ME!"
That little boy knew instinctively what so many of us either ignore or refuse to acknowledge: we are desperate for prayer. If we had any real notion of the madness in our hearts, (Ecclesiastes 9:3), if we comprehended how our own evil desires relentlessly conspire against us dragging us to enticements that lead to death, (James 1:14), if we understood that without Christ we are "objects of wrath by nature," (Ephesians 2:3), we, like that little boy, would be loudly pleading for prayers. We would be praying for our unconverted family and friends.
Jonathon Edwards, a Puritan theologian at the forefront of the Great Awakening in America, wrote a sermon that to this day stirs up anger and ridicule. Speaking of unforgiven sinners, he says: "The wrath of God burns against them continually; their damnation does not slumber. The pit is prepared; the fire is made ready; the furnace is now hot, ready to receive them; the flames do now rage and glow." He pursues that theme doggedly: "At the moment [of judgment], you will see that your health, your own care and prudence, your best contrivance, and all your righteousness, have no more influence to uphold you and keep you out of hell than a spider's web has to stop a falling rock." If you are still reading, there is more: "For, behold, the Lord will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with fire." (Revelation 19:15) And again: "The ax is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire." (Matthew 3:10) And yet more: "I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment." (Isaiah 63:6)
The anger directed at Edwards may be misdirected. The words that are so provocative are most often words from God's own mouth. Even the antagonizing title of the sermon, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," hearkens back to Hebrews10:31: "It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."
Our God is a God of love. That's where we like to camp. But He also is a holy God. and therefore a God of justice. As much as we may wish to ignore the warnings of hell and damnation, we, who know the way of salvation, are doing a great, eternal injustice to those who don't, if we do not pray for them. We have been given the truth, and we have been given the power of prayer. Whether they ask for it or not, the souls of our non-believing friends and relatives are crying out to us: "Pray for me! Pray for me!" Today join the congregation in praying for those who do not know Jesus.
Monday, May 23: That God would give us opportunities, and we would boldly take them, to share the Gospel. “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.” (Philippians 1:20)
“Men may spurn our appeals, reject our message, oppose our arguments, despise our person - but they are helpless against our prayers.” Sidlow Baxter