God, Break Our Hearts!

I’ve always loved the description of Jesus’ ministry in Matthew 9.35-38 …

35 Jesus traveled among all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, announcing the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every sickness. 36 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion for them because they were troubled and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The size of the harvest is bigger than you can imagine, but there are few workers. 38 Therefore, plead with the Lord of the harvest to send out workers for his harvest.” (Common English Bible)

As Jesus traveled around, he was moved with compassion. You could say his heart was broken by what he saw.

Compassion leads to action. Jesus instructed his disciples to pray for more workers. There’s so much to do, we need all hands on deck!

There’s a prayer I’ve been praying, and teaching others to pray, for a while: God, break our hearts for what breaks yours!

I was introduced to this prayer at the 2011 Willow Creek Association Global Leadership Summit. After the Summit, I wrote

Perhaps the single biggest takeaway for me was Rev. Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil’s challenge to pray for divine mandate. She suggested that we pray, “God, break our hearts for what breaks yours!” noting that it’s also the most dangerous prayer. It’s about getting our marching orders from God.

Since then, the phrase also jumped out at me in the Casting Crowns’ song, “Friend of Sinners” …

Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, open our eyes to the world at the end of our pointing fingers. Let our hearts be led by mercy. Help us reach with open hearts and open doors. Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks yours.

What broke Jesus’ heart was people who were troubled and helpless, people who were like sheep without a shepherd. We, too, must be moved by what moved Jesus.

If the Church is going to fulfill its mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ, it’s hearts must break for what breaks God’s heart!

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