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Mission Incarnate IV: Praying for Salvation

Much of what we do in mission is talking to men about God, but prayer is that part of the mission where we talk to God about men. We can preach, witness, argue, and serve until we’re blue in the face, but unless God does His sovereign work in people’s hearts, all of our efforts count for nothing, and so a crucial part of our mission is to intercede with God on behalf of the world. In today’s passage, we see two people who were exceptionally faithful in that work. Simeon and Anna serve as examples of missional prayer by praying until Christmas comes.

Simeon had been longing for and praying for this particular child since long before Jesus was born. He kept pestering the Spirit about God’s plan to save the world until one day, the Spirit finally promised Simeon that he would not die before he saw what he wanted so badly to see. When Simeon sees Jesus, his life is complete. When he held the Messiah in his arms, he says, “Now I can rest in peace. This is all I wanted out of life, and God has given it to me in response to my prayers.” He prayed until God brought salvation to the world.

And he was not alone: Anna the Prophetess was busy doing the same thing. She had been married for seven years when God took her husband, and ever since the day he died, she moved into the temple to become a permanent worshiper, fasting and praying, waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem. Look at Anna, and see what sixty years of prayer does – it brings salvation into the world.

One of the most amazing things in all the world is that God listens to the voices of men and women, and promises to do what they ask in Jesus’ name. God treats you as a person, as someone who matters to Him. You are His friend, which means that the things you care about, He cares about. And since you care about the salvation of the world, and about the salvation of your friend, your family member, or your co-worker, God cares about that, too.

The main lesson is this: pray for the salvation of the world. Pray that people you know who waste their lives on worthless things would find something better to give glory to. Remember, the mission of the Church is to promote the glory of God by stealing hearts away from giving glory to vain idols and worthless things, and re-directing that misspent worship towards the living God. So here are two ways to pray as part of the Church’s mission:

First, join in the prayers that every Christian prays. Pray big, general, gospel-soaked, world-changing prayers for the salvation of all men like Paul instructs in 1 Tim 2:1-4, and like we see in Psalm 67. Pray that God would send laborers into the harvest field, like Jesus tells us in Matthew and Luke. Pray that preachers would have boldness to share the gospel, like Paul asks for in Ephesians. Pray that God would open doors for the gospel, like Colossians tells us.

Second, pray prayers that only you can pray: You might be the only Christian praying for your particular neighbors by name, so pick one family or one individual that you know and interact with on a regular basis who does not know Jesus, and pray for them by name every week this year, every day if you can. If you don’t know anyone who doesn’t believe, then pray that God would bring somebody into your life. Praying for someone until God saves them is a work worthy of the gospel, a mission that brings great glory and honor to Jesus Christ. God longs to hear these prayers.

In response to the prayers of Simeon, Anna, and to all faithful prayers, God sent Jesus into the world, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and a glory to His people Israel. Part of the glory of Israel in the birth of Jesus Christ is the glory of answered prayer, and so as we seek to carry out the mission, as we seek to get more glory for Jesus, then let us be like Simeon and Anna and pray until we see the salvation of God right in front of our eyes.

Posted on Wednesday, December 24, 2014 by CJ Bowen