Sitting around a solar lantern in our African mud house, we held a time of prayer and praise with guests visiting from the US. They’d served as missionaries years before, in the same country, but among a different people group. As eager new church planters, we bombarded them with questions and attentively listened to their stories. As we reflected on the hardness of heart we’d noticed toward the gospel in our area, their simple response was, “there hasn’t been enough prayer for them yet.”
As a couple we’d only been aware of this people group we were now serving, for a couple years. They explained how - in other areas - teams had gone years before to survey, prepare for a team and to cultivate prayer. seeking the Holy Spirit to soften the soil. Decades later, others would see the fruits of this labor through church planting movements and established churches; prayer and fruit take time. It was a vivid reminder of the perseverance asked of the church to reach others, to the ends of the earth, with the gospel.
Esther didn’t approach the king once on behalf of her people. It’s the moment we most remember, yet even after Haman’s demise, the edict of destruction remained in effect. Again, she bolsters the courage to present herself before him, perhaps reciting the psalm in her heart, “be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord” (Ps 31:24).
But it wasn’t just a request, she “fell at his feet and wept and pleaded with him to avert the evil plan of Haman” (Est 8:3).
When was the last time you fell and wept and pleaded with the Lord for the salvation of others?
It wasn’t good enough for Esther to be saved herself, “for how can I bear to see the calamity that is coming to my people? Or how can I bear to see the destruction of my kindred?” (Est 8:6); the longing of her heart fueled by compassion for others.
Oh that our hearts would deeply desire for people to come to repentance! Not merely as a passing thought, but a desperate grabbing of our souls. For we know and believe, “the Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Pet 3:9).
The Westminster Shorter Catechism reminds us of the Spirit’s work, how He applies “to us the redemption purchased by Christ, by working faith in us,” (Q.30) and, convinces “us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ and renewing our wills” (Q.31), persuading us to embrace Christ. As we have experienced this grace, we now pray fervently for this gift in the lives of our loved ones who have yet to receive, and for those in places where the gospel has yet to be taken.
It's an encouragement for us to practice falling on our feet and pleading to our Lord and Saviour, with courage and persistence, for the Spirit’s work, unveiling faces, would be cultivated in the world.