The following story is my paraphrase of a parable Jesus told in the Gospels.
There were 3 worker who were each given a sum of money to invest by their boss as he was going away for 12 months. One was given $3000. The other was given $6000 and the third was given $9000. The one with $9000 went and invested it in a small truck and started a delivery business and by the time 12 months had passed, had made a nice little profit. The one who was given $6000 invested in a welder and other tools, and started up a little welding shop, and again by the time the boss came back, he too was making a small profit on the investment. However the third person who was given $3000 had decided that the boss was a hard man and that he wasn’t going to risk his anger by losing it all, and so, he hid the $3000 in the space in the wall cavity of his house.
12 months later when the boss came, he asked the 3 people to come and share with him what they did with his investment. The first came and told him how he had invested his money in a delivery business, had now bought a second truck and had made 50% profit on his original investment. The boss congratulated him and said, well done, I will reward you by making you equal partner in this business.
The person whom he gave $6000 to, came forward and shared how he too, had put on another worker after all expenses were paid, he too had made a 50% profit. The boss congratulated him and said well down, I will reward you by making you equal partner in this business.
The third person came to him, saying. I know you’re a hard man. That you expect much from us. But, I have little skills, and was frightened of losing it all, and so I hid your money in the wall, and here it is. The boss exploded at him. Stripped him to shreds and called him lazy. He said to him, “You know I have high expectations of you! Why didn’t you invest the money I gave you with one of the other two guys and help them. You wicked and lazy man, get out of my sight, you are sacked!”
I first read this story in 1997 when I became born again. I had had a strong sense that God was calling me into the pastoral ministry. Over the years I have experienced the supernatural presence of the Holy Spirit telling me he had called me to become a pastor. That the pastors role was to be a praying man. A man who taught others to pray. To pray in relationship with God and with each other.
Back then I made the decision that the best way I could pastorally care for someone was to pray for them. I am not a gifted speaker. I am not that confident around people. (Though the Lord has done a great job in stripping away the fear of others I once had.) I wanted to ensure that I used the talents the Lord had given me And so, I decided that I would invest into the ministry and lives of others. I read all I could get my hands on the subject of prayer. I read the biographies of men and women of prayer. I was caught up in the simple faith and lifestyle of brother Lawrence who penned centuries ago, “Practicing the presence of God.” I was awed by the stories of Praying Hyde of India. Reece Howells Intercessor from the Welsh Revival. Charles Spurgeon. Then there was George Muller who looked after thousands of orphans through the power of prayer. Not once did he ask any person for help, instead he and those who came alongside him, looked to the Lord for help. And though, there were seasons when there was little, they never went without, and no bill was ever paid late.
And during that time, I came up with a saying that I used often for about 9 months. The one thing I like more than praying is that of getting answers to prayer. The Holy Spirit convicted me to stop using that saying. The reason being is that the essence of that saying is that I was only using God to get what I wanted. That God was only the means to an end. And so I began a journey instead, of putting myself into the Lords hands, asking him to provide all I needed, as well as asking for the needs of others. There were times when I was astounded by the way the Lord answered those prayers. Some of those answers I was to see many years later.
I remember well the first day when I prayed publicly in church. I was sitting in the pew when the time of public prayer came around. I had a sense that the Lord wanted me to pray, but I had no idea what to pray. So I quietly prayed, “Father, I feel you want me to pray, but I don’t know what to pray. Will you please allow your Spirit to pray through me, and allow me to pray through your Spirit” Immediately I was filled with a sense of urgency and boldness and I prayed as if I had a rod of steel in my words, the following. “Father God, stop who ever is planning to commit suicide and show then just how much you love them,” and then the boldness and inspiration stopped and I stopped praying. It was a number of years later, at a bible study, when we were talking about the shire wide suicide awareness and prevention program that I had initiated, from the Lord’s prompting. One of our elderly people asked me, “Craig, do you remember a few years ago, when at church, you prayed that God would stay the hand of who ever was going to commit suicide and reveal God’s love to them.” A flashback of that prayer flooded over me. The person continued, “I came to church that morning to say goodbye to my friends. I was going through a extremely rough patch, and had planned to go home and take my life straight away.” But, I had quietly prayed, “God, please show me what to do, reveal your love to me,” and I had no sooner finished that prayer, when you prayed the prayer you did, and I knew there truly was a God who was for me and not against me.
Hang on a moment, I got to wipe my tears away here. I still choke up about it. As we all shared and prayed for each other,in that moment, we all had a sense of a truly sacred experience, where God was truly with us. And we spontaneously sung praises to God.
Since then, I have regularly prayed, “Father, I have no idea how to pray for this person, or this situation. I ask that you will cause your Spirit to pray through me and allow me to pray through your Spirit.” And I am continually surprised how the Lord causes me to pray, the boldness which comes with it, and the feeling that God was truly answering that prayer.
God has called us all. He has invested in us all. His investment is people. The way he works through us all differs with different callings, different giftings and different manifestations, but, it is the same God working in all, through all and over all. Getting back to the opening story of the 3 workers. I am like the person given $3000. I know I am a lazy man. I don’t have the energy that I once did. But, the lesson I have learnt from this story is to invest in the lives of others. And I still find today, 17 years later, that God still prompts me to pray, and my response is “Father God, help me to pray, for I don’t know what to pray.”
I feel tonight that I am writing this for one of my readers. That you have also been asking God to open the doors for you. Perhaps the door the Lord is asking you to walk through is that of prayer. Investing in the lives of others, empowering them to do the things that God is calling them to do. Oh what a privilege it is, to be co workers in the Gospel work of Jesus Christ. So, lets pray.
Father God. I ask that you will cause us to be a praying people. That you will pour your Spirit over us, well up within us, flow through us. Fill us with the revelation of your love, of your immense power, of your intimacy. Show us how we can become co-workers of the Gospel, partnering with you and others. In Jesus name I pray.