Have you ever been unexpectedly asked by a co-worker or family member to pray for them?
An unavoidable surgery, a cold blast of bad health news, or the deepening turmoil in relations at home can all be the providential squeeze that brings a cry of intercession to your ears.
Most often these unexpected cries for help come from those who are "separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world" (Eph. 2:12).
They know no better than to ask another mortal they know who is "religious" or "committed" or "serious about God" to pray for them. It is this not too uncommon occurrence that lies behind the "Got Prayer?" booth we are hosting at the Oshkosh farmer's market.
Our hope is to make known the unknown God to a needy people by directing their minds and hearts to Jesus. There is only one name under heaven given among men by which men can be saved from the coming wrath of God - Jesus, the Savior, named by the Father himself.
By offering to pray for those who come in need we are bringing God's name where He is pleased to bring it - to the extremity of man's need, to the outer edge of the world where sinful men are just beginning to hope beyond hope that there is a God of steadfast love who hears.
C.S. Lewis said, “We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
What does God wish to say once He has roused those long deaf? "Jesus is my Son in whom I am well pleased, listen to Him."
In 1 Kings 8 we find Solomon praying a towering prayer at the dedication of the new and first temple in Jerusalem. After praising God for keeping the gracious promise to His servant David to see a house built for the name of the Lord, Solomon begins to petition God to hear the future prayers of the children of Israel when they come to the temple with there various needs.
In a kind of cadence rhythm Solomon forecasts scenario after scenario of future needs and in each case he asks for a similar outcome: "If they pray toward this place and acknowledge your name...then hear in heaven and...." Such is the refrain of Solomon's petition as he considers all the pastoral situations the people of God will be in.
But then in verse 41 he suddenly introduces a new constituency yet still the same refrain follows:
Likewise, when a foreigner, who is not of your people Israel, comes from a far country for your name's sake (for they shall hear of your great name and your mighty hand, and of your outstretched arm), when he comes and prays toward this house, hear in heaven your dwelling place and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to you, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your people Israel, and that they may know that this house that I have built is called by your name.
Solomon has grasped in his petition the expansive purpose of God's heart and covenant. As the Lord told Abram when He called the pagan son of a pagan father out of Ur: "in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."
Solomon understands the graciousness of the covenant and the greatness of God's name - neither can be nor will be contained in one nation. The Redeemer's name will be spoken and His covenant grace treasured by people from among every tribe, nation and people. It will not be just the children born in Israel that will have God as their Father but some born in Babylon, Philistia, Tyre and Cush (see Psalm 87).
This is why the name of Jesus is being taken to the streets. He is the true and final temple, the true dwelling place of God. His name is to be revealed to all peoples especially the stranger who is just beginning to lose hope in all the empty promises of the world, the flesh and the devil. His name is to be revealed so men might call on Him.
Like Solomon, it is our prayer that the true temple - Jesus - be glorified as those far from His kingdom hear of His power to save and grace to deliver and try Him out in prayer.
Please pray for the August 2 booth outreach and the August 23 outreach. Prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, gospel literature, and refreshments will be offered. Contact Pastor Hartley or Michael Smith for more information or to join by prayer or in person in this outreach.