PART 5: THE FRONTLINE CRY
John Nichol said that he discovered the old truth that there are no atheists on the frontline. And he confessed that when they went into battle, and as they suffered horrendous torture in prison, they all prayed. As far as I am aware he is not a Christian (I hope I am wrong), so how much more do you and I need to pray to God when we are on the frontline…
“Let us pray”…
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one. (Matthew 6: 9-13)
It is good to pray “The Lord’s Prayer” together, isn’t it? But how many times do we really need to talk about this prayer? Maybe just one more time…And how many times do we really need to pray this prayer? Maybe just one more time…
And this is a prayer that is really all about life on the frontline. This is a prayer that is all about being part of the battle against the “powers and principalities of this dark world”.
For this is a prayer where we call on God: “Your Kingdom come”! This is a prayer that the world does not want to hear. It does NOT want God’s Kingdom here…it wants to remain under the control of the evil one – even when it doesn’t realise it. It does not want God’s Kingdom culture of love and mercy and kindness and honesty and purity here. It wants power and success and self-gratification and wealth – a people who want as much as they can get does not want God’s Kingdom here!
And this is a prayer where we call on God: “Your will be done”! This is a prayer that the world does NOT want to hear. It does not want God’s pure and perfect and good will to be done. It wants its own. People under the influence of the world and the flesh and the devil are crying out: “I want MY will to be done!” When people declare “I want to do it MY way!” and “I want what I haven’t got and I’m going to get it even if I hurt you in the process!” and “I want to sleep with this woman who is married to another” and “I want to satisfy my homosexual desires” and “I do not want this baby” and “I want to hurt you”, then they do NOT want God’s will to be done here!
So, the Lord’s Prayer is a powerful prayer, a subversive prayer, a challenging prayer, a prayer for all those who are on the frontline.
It is a prayer that we are to:
- Pray: over and over and over again; meaning it; believing it; trusting in the One who taught it to us to put it into effect.
- Proclaim: to use it as we serve God on the frontline. To tell people that there is One God, our Father in Heaven, that He is holy, that His Kingdom is the only one that will last for eternity, that His will is pure and good and perfect and is the best for us, that He is able to provide us with all we need – and we are able to ask Him for all we need, that He alone is able (and willing) to forgive us all we have done wrong, and will cancel all the debts we owe Him, that He will protect us from evil as we go through life.
This week I went to get my hair cut and, as you do, got into conversation with the barber. He told me about a visit to a mosque in Abu Dhabi where the Moslem guide declared that “we believe in God just like you Christians do – and our faith is very much like yours”. Wow! Tough challenge thrown out there! I was able to proclaim the Good News of a Yahweh who is very different from Allah and where salvation is based on relationship with Jesus and not with legalistic rules and rituals. Did I proclaim the Gospel very well to this dear man? Maybe not…but I DID proclaim it…I am on the frontline.
- Practice: What if we didn’t just pray and proclaim this prayer? What about if we put it into practice with our community as we serve with them on the frontline? What if we pledged ourselves to praying for one another in all our various services on the frontline? What about if you said to me “Please pray for me as I go into work, that when people see me and hear me, and get to know me, they really see God shining through me, they really see that I am different”. What if our prayers for one another made each other more effective on the frontline…
We are very used to praying for one another – “please pray for me because I am sick”; “let me pray for your problem at work”; “can you remember me in your prayers for my upcoming job interview”; “I’m praying for you during this difficult time of financial hardship”. But what if we grabbed hold of this idea that we prayed for one another regularly, constantly, for our life on the frontline? Many of you pray for me that I might be guided in my calling as pastor to this church. What about if I prayed for you: “bless you when you go to the office that you might have the right words to say to your colleagues”; “God be with you as you show the love of God day-by-day to your unbelieving children”; “when you go to the bowling club with your friends, I ask God that He make you an incredible witness”.
Time and again Paul asks for prayer that his life on the frontline might be blessed by God:
I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. (Romans 15: 30)
Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honoured, just as it was with you. (2 Thessalonians 3: 1)
And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains (Colossians 4: 3)
This is the message of our video today. And this is the reality of many of those amongst us – a testimony that people see us as different, because we are different, and that our prayers and their prayers will make a difference to their service on the frontline.
So, in conclusion, let us ask ourselves these three questions about “the frontline cry”:
- What would happen if we really asked for God to answer our prayer for victory in our battle on the frontline?
- What if we really mean it when we pray “Your will be done” – in our community, on our streets?
- What about if we ask one another (our community) to pray for us to be seen to be different in our community?
We pray when we are on the frontline because God Almighty is our commander who calls us and sends us into battle – always before us, always leading us. So, we pray for Him to lead us, protect us, empower us, sustain us.
This is our frontline cry!
FOR FURTHER STUDY: ON YOUR OWN OR IN HOME GROUPS ON WEDNESDAY
Read and discuss the following passage from the letter from James. Meditate on each section. See how it is all about prayer. Understand how each part applies to you as you live your life on the frontline.
13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you ill? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
17 Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. (James 5: 13-18)