Note: In Part 1 of this series, I briefly described 3 different components that should be present as we pray for a spiritual harvest in eastern Kentucky. Part 2 deals with the first component: praying with the proper motivation.
As Jesus went about his ministry, crowds flocked to him. In Matthew 9:36, we read how Jesus reacted to the crowds: “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
The term “shepherd” is frequently used in the Bible to describe spiritual leaders. In fact, the Greek word translated as “pastor” in Ephesians 4:11 is translated as “shepherd” every other time that it appears in the New Testament. And the crowds of Jesus’ day were supposed to have spiritual shepherds: the scribes and Pharisees. However, these “shepherds” were anything but shepherds. They were uncaring and unloving, and they spiritually abused the people with heavy burdens and rules that they could not keep. Indeed, the crowds were sheep without a shepherd. So, Jesus sees their helpless condition and he has compassion on them.
And just as Jesus’ compassion led to his command to pray, that same compassion is what must drive our desire to see a great spiritual harvest take place across eastern Kentucky. But that will only happen when we begin to see the 781,000 unchurched people in our region the way that Jesus sees them.
And yet I have a confession to make. I am often tempted to view the lost around me not with compassion, but with contempt. In other words, I’m tempted to view them as my enemy.
In this political season, it is tempting for me to view those of a different political persuasion as my enemy. It is tempting to view those who practice and promote an unbiblical view of marriage as my enemy. It is tempting to view those who sacrifice their family to feed their addictions as my enemy. And when I view them as my enemy, I’m not seeing them the way that Jesus sees them, and it will be very difficult to have compassion for them.
And yet the Apostle Paul identifies my true enemy in Ephesians 6:12: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” In other words, the lost around us are not our true enemy; our battle is against the spiritual forces of evil.
But the sad reality is that all unbelievers have been blinded by our true enemy: “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4). If you were to see a blind man or woman about to step out into oncoming traffic, I’m sure you would do everything in your power to prevent them from doing so. Why? Because you would have compassion on them because they could not see where they were going.
And Paul says that unbelievers today have been spiritually blinded and brutalized by our true enemy. In a very real sense, they are casualties of war, harassed and helpless. This is true for every lost person in eastern Kentucky and around the world. They are headed down a path to destruction. If they do not repent, they will perish.
And when we begin to see our lost friends and neighbors this way, we will begin to see them the way that Jesus sees them. And when we see them the way that Jesus sees them, we will have compassion on them. And when we have compassion for them, it will drive us to our knees in prayer.
That’s what it means to pray with the proper motivation.
In Part 3 in this series, we will examine how to pray with the proper understanding of the needs in eastern Kentucky. Until then, please continue to pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.