Do You have a Village God?

Every week I am privileged to enjoy conversations with the wonderful students here at the seminary, and every week God uses these conversations for spiritual benefit in my life. A recent conversation in my Pastoral Epistles class set me to thinking about my prayer life (did I mention that sometimes these conversations can be downright convicting?).

On this particular day we were discussing Paul’s instructions for prayer in the church from 1 Timothy 2:1-7. To paraphrase, Paul was saying that ALL types of prayer (“supplications, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings”) should be offered for ALL people (“all people, for kings, and all that are in authority”) because God wants ALL people to be saved (“who desires all people to be saved”) and Christ died for ALL people (“who gave Himself as a ransom for all”). It’s difficult to miss Paul’s emphasis: our prayers should have a focus that is both Gospel and global. We can participate in God’s wonderful work all around the world. Or not.

I shared with the students an anecdote from British Pastor John Stott. Vacationing in a tiny English village, Stott attended the mid-week prayer service of the local church. Every prayer request shared that evening related to financial, physical, or relationship needs of individual members in that congregation. Tragically missing was concern over anything God might be doing in the outside world to bring the lost to Himself. Stott commented upon leaving the service, “These people have a village church, and they serve a village God.”

As I type these words, a CBS news notification pops up on my screen. “Plutonium in soil latest sign of leaky Japanese nuclear reactors.” There are probably millions of hearts in Japan right now more focused on thoughts of approaching eternity than before the tsunami. But only a global God will be big enough to help them. And how often since the tragedy have I really labored in prayers for the precious Japanese people?

Don’t get me wrong. God welcomes us to lift the needs of our village to Him, of course. Without doubt, the Gospel will advance and the Lord will populate His church, unhampered by my myopic prayer life. But what a missed opportunity!

I don’t want to have a village God. By His grace, I want my prayers today and every day to reflect His loving heart for the whole world.

About Sam Harbin
I am the President of Calvary Baptist Seminary in Lansdale, PA as well as the Chair and Professor of Pastoral Theology.

One Response to Do You have a Village God?

  1. Jim E says:

    Your post stirred my mind a bit…anything on prayer has that effect, I guess…I suppose because I don’t think my prayer life ever add up to much…but then the Bible gives me hope that my weak prayers, He hears…and the Holy Spirit takes them to a higher plane…you know, makes sense of them before a God who sees all and understands…

    And so weeks ago…when the tsunami hit Japan…the sign outside the hair salon that my wife goes to had on their sign: “Pray for Japan”…that was it…not unusual for Little Rock…the things of God are not hidden here like they may be in the north…i.e. in my ancestral home of Minnesota…two things came to my mind when I saw it…1. being a history buff, that would not have been up there on December 7, 1941, though it probably should have…and 2. wow, that is a good reminder…I can pray for a people I don’t know…and so far away…that I can’t reach but God can…a good wake-up call…and I didn’t have to go in for hair appointment!!!…

    Thanks again…stirred my mind…

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