When it comes to the Great Commission, the lostness of the world is second to the global glory of God. God’s greatest concern, as I wrote last month, is He great glory among the nations. Only when our passion for God’s glory blazes will our endeavors to make Him famous among the nations shine bright.
Ironically, instead of blazing a trail for God’s glory in Jerusalem and abroad, the early disciples were first told to wait. Wait? The strategy for which the Lord gave the apostles began with waiting. That seems quite odd for a movement that was intended to take the world by storm. But if you think about it, where does this unquenchable passion for God’s glory among the nations come from?
Jesus knew that what the early disciples needed most was power from on high, not power from within. Furthermore, passion for God is ultimately God-given passion. Therefore, Jesus instucts the disicples to wait in Jerusalem for what the Father had promised, namely the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5). Both the power and passion for accomplishing the Great Commission comes from above; it comes from outside of ourselves. The Holy Spirit would ignite a passion and provide the power to go into all the world preaching the gospel (Acts 1:6-8).
Interestingly, after Jesus’ departure, we find the disciples locked up in an upper room . . . waiting. That is, waiting and praying (Acts 1:12-14). Great Commission advancement always invovles waiting and praying. A survey through Acts demonstrates that gospel boldness is closely connected and often follows the fervant prayers of God’s people (e.g., Acts 2:42; 3:1; 4:23-31; 6:6-7; 10:9; 13:1-3).
As we examine the book of Acts it’s no wonder why we see such incredible gospel advancement. The early church bathed the advancement of the gospel in prayer. Yet, prayer seems to be an afterthought in so many churches today when it comes to Great Commission faithfulness. “The gospel must be on the go,” we say. “We don’t have time to pray when lostness is all around us,” we chide. Yet, the underlying truth that the early church understood, that we would do well to understand, is that the gospel advances supernaturally through the prayers of the people of God. In other words, the battle against lostness is first fought on our knees.
We need churches and associations entering the battlefield on their knees before going to their feet. Yes, “beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things” (Rom 10:15). Yet, as we see from Acts, the beauty of our feet comes from calloused knees. Great Commission faithfulness must begin with empowerment thru prayer. Strategies void of prayer will be strategies void of power. Only when God’s people cry out to Him who alone can take a message offensive and foolish to the world and turn into a beautiful embrace of Jesus Christ and Him crucified will that message advance powerfully. Let us be faithful to advance the Great Commission, but let us wait upon calloused knees for God to give us His power and passion.