Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Praying the parable of the sower as you approach God's word

The parable of the sower is one of the best known parable of Jesus.  But it is also a helpful parable for us to pray through both as we prepare to preach, prepare to listen to preaching or for ourselves and our church family in the hours and days after preaching.

In the parable Jesus identifies 4 different responses to the gospel as he explains the parable in Matthew 13:
“Hear then the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

What a challenge to pray through this as we prepare to preach God's word, not for others but for ourselves.  'Father, as I read and study your word do not let the evil one snatch it away from my heart by making me focus purely on others without going the hard yards with this passage and my own, prone to wandering, heart.  Speak to me and do your work in me so that I do not lightly treat its message but embed it in my heart so that it produces change and lasting fruit to your glory.  Father, you know the pressures and struggles I am facing, you know the things that battle in my heart and would rob me of my joy in your word and keep me from producing fruit.  Please help me understand your word and apply to myself so that I can teach it better to others and be an example of the fruit it can produce.  Amen'

Or alternatively what a great prayer to pray as we come to listen:  'Father, I recognise as I come to hear your word the battle that is raging right now.  A battle for me to dismiss your word lightly, to harden my heart, to apply it to others or to be too taken up with the pressures I am facing or the pleasures I am enjoying to really dwell on and work through what you want to say to me.  By your Spirit please produce fruit from your word, prepare my heart, make my conscience tender, engage my mind, and make me willing to respond and act as a result of yours Spirit's work through your word.  Amen'

Or in the days after hearing or studying God's word what a great thing to turn into prayer for our church family as well as for ourselves.  A prayer longing for God to produce specific fruit from his word, just praying that helps us to meditate on God's word in a way that causes us to dwell in it and sink our roots down deeply into it.  Obviously you want any such prayer to reflect on the specifics of the message preached and the word of God heard and brought home by the Spirit, but even in a more generic form there is something worth praying:  'Father, thank you for your word.  Please don't let Satan snatch it away from me I pray, don't let troubles or worries choke it to death, don't let them rob me of the joy of the fact I am your child whom you love, speak to and call to live as your ambassador.  Father, thank you that by your Spirit you spoke to us, may we, your church, produce fruit this week as we respond to your word to us by your grace and for your glory. Amen'

No comments: