Lu 10:1-2 “After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.”
We are just a few days away from “Saint Patrick’s Day” being celebrated again here in the United States. Saint Patrick’s Day is primarily celebrated as a recognition of Irish and Irish-American culture; celebrations include prominent displays of the color green, eating and drinking, religious observances, and numerous parades. The holiday has been celebrated on the North American continent since the late 18th century. Even the north White House fountain, according to Wikipedia, has been dyed green for Saint Patrick’s Day every year since 2009.
Unfortunately more famous for the alcohol-laden holiday associated with his name, Patrick was actually a Scottish-born missionary who unwittingly became the patron saint of Ireland. Captured by pirates as an adolescent, Patrick served as a slave for six years before escaping back to his homeland. After receiving Christ, he returned to Ireland and powerfully spread the gospel across the entire nation. As an accurate review of history bears out, Patrick’s missionary fervor and effectiveness were due in large part to his faithful prayer life.
Here is his less-renowned but much more significant, in light of eternity, refrain of prayer:
“Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ where I lie, Christ where I sit, Christ where I arise,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every one who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
Salvation is of the Lord. Salvation is of the Christ.
May your salvation, Lord, be ever with us.”
That is a mouthful! What a challenge! Look past the revelers this coming week who may possess good intentions but have no spiritual perspective on what Patrick truly represents. Think about this coming Sunday the many who will be sharing heaven with Patrick and worshipping the Lamb who redeemed them through this evangelist’s visionary, prayerful missions work. That is what makes him a grace-enabled “saint” of history and significant to us in the here and now. As A.B. Simpson writes, “Prayer is the mighty engine that is to move the missionary work.”
Here’s the takeaway: prayer and missions always must go together. Pray for a heart for souls. Pray for “fruit that remains.” Pray for your local church to see souls saved on a regular basis. Pray for your missionaries to see fruit for the their labor on the foreign field. As our text today reminds us, pray for new missionaries to be mobilized all over the world to “every creature.” Instead of raising a toast with this world’s “spirits,” lift a prayer in God’s Spirit. Pray and then go. That alone is how we can faithfully celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day in a way the honors not only his memory but His mission and His God!
As Samuel Zwemer put it to all of us too easily distracted by the distorted “green dye” elements of church history, “The history of missions is the history of answered prayer.”