Thank you for receiving me so warmly and Jim, for your introduction. I’m really grateful for the opportunity to be with you, not only to enjoy the privilege of teaching, and it is a privilege to teach the word of God, but to express my thanks to God for the ministry of the Institute for Biblical Counseling and Discipleship. As a pastor, you get real excited about ministries that do biblical counseling and train biblical counselors because you know that part of what that means is that hurting people are being helped, that churches are being equipped, that families are being strengthened, and it’s an honor for me to join you and this ministry in that task and to be invited to do so, so thank you.
Thanks for coming, by the way. We’re all making an investment of time here. It’s no small thing to carve out a few days to be able to give yourself to this. I’ve been praying for our time, and I pray God meets us in our time. I’m grateful that you’re dedicating your time to being here. Also, I don’t often have the opportunity to travel with my beautiful wife Kim, who is able to join me this year. We’ve been married now for 36 years come two months, this coming August. Kim, why don’t you stand up and let everybody say hello, 36 years. Thank you. You could say hello to Kim later. 36 wonderful years, a statistic that says much about God’s grace and much about her forbearance as well.
You can open your Bibles to Genesis chapter 3. Only one other thought as I’m thinking through introductory comments, I believe deeply in expository preaching, but the next couple of messages you hear from me are going to be very poor examples of that. I’m not sure any messages you hear from me are going to be a great example of that. Maybe what I really believe in is expository effort, and I do believe in that. The theme for our conference is loving wayward souls. I realize that for many of us, this is far from simply an academic exercise that for many of us, this touches something deep.
I’ve noticed as a pastor that there are few things that touch believers as deeply as this topic because just introducing it, I’m thinking about this, like right in this moment, just introducing it, I think, in surface, automatically, certain pain and stress and grief and fears and anger and this surreal sense that you wonder whether you’ve been defrauded in some way because of the experience that you’ve had maybe with a spouse or with a child or with a sibling. I recognize the tenderness of this topic. That’s why what I want to do is stop right now, and I want to pray and ask God to meet all of us. I’m very aware right now. I desperately need it myself. Why don’t we stop and let’s pray and let’s ask God for his help, and let’s thank Him for the air conditioning?
Lord, we are grateful for this opportunity to gather. Lord, some of us have already been here all day and are excited but wearied. Lord, some us just coming in, and yet all of us are here because this is something that occupies our heart. For some of us, it’s very profoundly personal. Lord, we want to understand, but we don’t simply want to have a cognitive experience about information on this, Lord, but we want to get a sense of Your word speaks to us that we might be in a position to speak to others in ways that are charitable and redemptive, and so we ask for You to meet us now, in Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
Let’s just hold that passage in Genesis 3 for a second. I’m going to read from that, but I’m thinking about the lyrics that were mentioned earlier. Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love. Those words from that classic hymn Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing. Part of what’s happening there is the writer is describing this frightening feature fallenness, this instinct that we have that is embedded so deeply in creation that it touches everything, even those folks that walk with God, that we are all wander-prone. Prone to leave the God we love.
One of the reasons why I wanted to open up in Genesis chapter 3 because that prone to wanderness shows up all the way back in the beginning, and so let’s just read these first seven verses, which I’m sure are familiar to you, and I’m going to capitalize on that assumption. Verse 1, “Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'”
“But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.”
Okay, let’s just stop right there for a second. Now, let’s just think about what’s happening here. We got Adam and Eve in the garden and God as their Father. He walks in the garden in the midst of the day. They behold His face, have this great marriage. I mean, joined to one another. It was something that was amazing. Talk about fulfilling work. I mean, Adam has finally found it. He’s found his helpmate as well. They indulged daily in the incredible gifts of food and peace and beauty and just this sense of well-being, at being in a place where God is, in a space that God has created, in a space that was made for them.
The garden offers this extraordinary vision, this remarkable vision of the flourishing life, an existence that if anything was fully true and satisfying and good and delightful, but something happens. What happens? Prone to wander happens because paradise is not enough for these two. I mean, God has one simple rule, just one. That’s all there was, just one, and the serpent seizes upon this small law, this one rule, this one command ultimately based for their good, the serpent seizes upon it and incites this impulse to rebel, this impulse, this instinct to stray, to go rogue.
Adam and Eve bit, and prone to wander all of a sudden installed into hard drive of creation, and so they have to leave the garden. They have a son, whose name is Cain. First kid every conceived on earth, conceivably. Parents walked with God in the garden. Their first address was paradise. I mean, this is the family that they had everything set up for them, and you know the story. Cain kills Abel. In fact, Cain is one of these kids that did something where he actually bore the mark of that for the rest of his life. I mean, Adam and Eve, the ones who had the perfect address, the ones that had God as their Father, they raised a murderer.
Here’s the … Well, let’s use the biblical language, the mystery of iniquity, the mystery of lawlessness, is that sometimes, people who claim to walk with God, who have conscientious parents, who have good friends, who belong to a good church, sometimes, those individuals can just do unsettling things, and the reason for that goes back to what we were singing about, or what we were referencing in that song is this prone to wander variable. We could march right through Scripture.
I mean, it happened to David. David, chosen by God, incredible gifts, anointed by God, loyal army, God on his side, he seeks to bed down the wife of somebody who’s incredibly loyal to him. When the husband becomes an obstacle, he basically puts a contract on his head so that he’ll be killed in battle. David didn’t just drift off slowly like a straying lamb across the pasture. I mean, this is the guy who careened off the cliff and took an entire nation with him. I mean, he did repent, but let’s not sanitize the story. Prone to wander is why leaders fall. Prone to wander is why Christians get divorced. Prone to wander is why you would never have to train a two-year-old to say no. It’s there. It’s embedded.
Now, as believers, we do believe in conversion. We do believe in the power of the spirit of God. We do believe in sanctification. All of those things are very real. They’re very potent beyond our wildest imaginations, but God kind of voted all the way back in Eden on what this hardwiring was going to be like, that there would be a vulnerability to sin, that we would be free, within a certain degree of parameters, free to sin, so that even as believers … I mean, I think Romans 7 to be written by Paul abide himself as a Christian, so even as believers, Paul is saying, “I find this law at work. I mean, I want to do good. Evil is right there.” I love the way that John Owen said it that the dominion of sin is broken, but oh, the presence of sin remains.
Unbeliever and believer alike are both prone to wander, for different reasons, and different instincts, but both prone to wander, both, like sheep can have this impulse to stray, can have these restless hearts. Augustine nails that war within, our hearts are restless until they find rest in you. There’s a sense where we hear that and we think, “Something gets terminated. Something gets resolved.” We just end up parking there, and it doesn’t relay signal the ongoing restlessness that takes place in the Christian’s life because the faith-stunning thing is that we get restless. Christians get restless, and God occasionally deals with restlessness, not by waving a wand or snapping His fingers and just destroying it from our life, but by exhausting our attempts to find rest apart from Him, by allowing us to pursue what we think we desire to exhaust our attempts to find rest apart from Him.
Now, again, let’s make some distinctions here that I think are important because as believers, most of the wandering that we’re talking about, I mean, it’s pretty routine, it’s maybe even predictable. We envy. We lust. We eat too much. We get angry when things don’t go our way. We confess that. We receive forgiveness, and we live life in this push and pull because most of life, most of the Christian life is spent for most Christians in the push and pull of that transforming effect where … To use the illustration I was alluding to earlier, and this is a familiar analogy, but change is like the American soldiers patrolling France after D-Day, where there’s a sense where that day was so decisive that the enemy’s dominion has been broken, but the presence of an enemy still remains, and there’s battles that still need to take place. The war has been won, but there’s still fighting that has to take place.
That’s the experience of the average believer over their lifetime, but there are times when this restlessness, this prone to wander takes a particularly destructive turn and the saint goes sideways completely, or a kid goes AWOL, or a spouse cheats, and doesn’t just cheat, but there’s no remorse. There’s no sense of culpability. There’s no sense that God was even a reference point for them, or a friend just rebels. They were in the small group. They led the small group, and now, it’s like they had no sense of orientation to God or the small group whatsoever and they just run away.
In other words, you don’t have to look far within the church to touch people and to encounter people who loved somebody or love somebody who went rogue, and not only did they go rogue, but they just don’t care. They just don’t care about it because there are times when the heart corrupts into this kind of deeply entrenched, willful, disobedient rebellion. I wish I was just talking about unbelievers there. The question I think we have to wrestle with this evening and that we’re going to spend the next few days wrestling with is what is that all about? What is that happening there, and how are we supposed to understand this biblically?
This is where I need to introduce you to a person in Scripture who is known as the fool. I was so encouraged to see that tomorrow night, Zack is going to be expanding on this theme all the more, but just let me introduce you this theme because it’s important to the pathway of the wandering heart. On one level, I mean, this describes all of us apart from God, right? Proverbs 14, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.'” That’s all of us apart from Jesus, apart from a burst of gospel power, we are all bent upon foolishness. We are all denying God. We are denying the claims of Jesus Christ upon our life.
Proverbs also narrows the field of that word a bit. Proverbs narrows the profile of the fool also. We’re told in Proverbs chapter 1, “Fools despise wisdom and instruction.” We’re told fools hate knowledge. Proverbs 3, “Fools get disgraced.” Proverbs 12, “The fool thinks he is right in everything he does.” I mean, let’s be honest, we all have somebody like that in our life. For some of us, we were that person in other people’s lives. That’s where I was. I was the fool. The fool is one whose heart is bent on dismissing God or on making God irrelevant and replacing the authority that God has with the authority that they believe they have, so there is no God.
Now, here’s the point I want to make. If that person pursuing that path remains unrepentant, then wayward, wayward becomes the direction they are pursuing, and the destination they arrive at. Wayward, meaning they are moving away from God. They are heading in a direction away from God. In walking that wayward path, in walking that prodigal path, typically, it is marked by two significant developments within their life, one is that they renounce true roles. They renounce true roles. Secondly is they reject right voices, renouncing roles, rejecting voices.
Just as an example, you have a husband who decides he’s … A Christian man decides he’s done with the marriage. He’s fallen madly in love with whoever, fill in the blank. In order to walk that path, he must renounce his role as a father, renounce his role as a husband. He has to reject the voices of his wife, of his kids, of dear friends. I mean people start stacking up in a family where a person like this is loved. If he’s a believer, if he’s involved in the local church, his pastor, he has to reject all of these voices.
Let’s change it up a little bit, let’s say the teenage daughter who is rebelling against the parents. Part of that rebellion is there’s a shutting down of the emotional door. With that then comes the idea that she has a leverage within the home by threatening that she’s going to be leaving, and maybe, ultimately, she does leave. In doing that, she’s renouncing certain roles that she has. She’s renouncing the role of daughter. She’s renouncing the role of sister if she has any siblings. She’s renouncing the role of student. She’s also rejecting these right voices of her parents, of her siblings, of her friends, of her counselor.
My point is that you peel back a prodigal, and you see a fool who is renouncing a role and rejecting the voices of the people that love them. The best way to start helping that person from drifting in that direction is to really try to crawl in to understand how they’re thinking. That’s really the design of this session this evening so that we can then know how to best love them, and that’s where we’re going to pick up tomorrow morning. Let’s discuss this evening. Let’s discuss what the wayward want, what the wayward want, and these are just a couple of ideas that show up in the book. I’m going to throw out a couple of them to you.
Let’s begin with, the wayward wat, number one, choices without consequences, choices without consequences. To walk this wayward path, one has to give up a certain degree of moral reasoning, in other words, the distinctions between right and wrong, the distinctions between cause and effect, between choices and consequences. What begins to happen is there’s a murkiness that comes over that. It starts to fade. It moves off into the distance because, ultimately, that person is reaching for a world of illusion. They’re reaching for, to use a Peter Pan analogy, they’re reaching for a Neverland existence, where all the adult rules are suspended, and you never have to grow up, and you just live the way you want to live.
Part of what’s behind the prodigal instinct, part of what screams from the prodigal heart is I should have the space I want to do what I want when I want. The effects of what I do when I want and when I want are irrelevant. The effects of that should be irrelevant. The roles that I have, which used to create a sense of responsibility because anytime we have roles, we have responsibilities, the two go hand in hand, those roles that I have, I’m coming to a place where they make no claim upon me. That’s where, sometimes, you’ll even have … I was involved in a situation recently where a guy wanted to separate from his wife, divorce his wife but live in the home. That sense of I want to go prodigal. I want to go rogue. I want to live outside of the responsibility, but I want to keep the role and the benefits of the role.
See, part of the way we’re thinking, part of what’s happening is it begins to distort the idea of freedom because freedom now begins to mean something completely different. Freedom means living a life that is free of restrictions. Freedom means a life without cost to anything. If you’re dealing with a prodigal, and this is often common in kids, in teenagers that might be walking that road, the consequences that might be coming upon them, or the consequences of a parent who might have to bring consequences for something, they strike them as shocking, as intrusive. Actually, the consequences deepen their sense of victimization, and actually, even offered as evidence for the reason why they are making the choices that they are making because they’re in distorted world where choices and consequences are disconnecting.
Now, if that’s inciting any fear in you, there’s a gospel that is so much more powerful than the foolishness of our children. That gospel was powerful enough to reach us where we are, and that’s the gospel that we celebrate, and the gospel that we’re going to return to, but it really helps to understand how this wayward mind works so that you can begin to work with people from within that world in a place where they think, “I think you get me. I think you’re understanding.” You have, for instance, maybe it’s a sibling, and that sibling is descending into the drug culture. Well, maybe they’ll make request for money. They’ll make request for some kind of asset, something they need. The denial of giving them what they’re requesting seems utterly absurd to them that they would be denied. It’s not the consequences of their poor decision. In their mind, it becomes an evidence of your lack of love, your lack of accommodating, your lack of understanding what they really need.
See, my point is that for the fool who’s moving in the wayward direction, who’s renouncing role and rejecting voices, for that fool, it’s very difficult to make a connection between their choices and their actions, their choices and the consequences, their choices and your denial of certain things to them. Part of what’s going on is there’s this, it’s the Romans 1, there is an active suppression of truth that’s taking place. I heard Dave Powlison once talk about Romans 1 and the suppression of truth by saying that when that’s happening in the life of a person, it’s like they’re watching a football game, but all of the uniforms in the football game, they’re the same color to them.
In other words, they lose the ability to distinguish who is on the field, what side are they playing on, where is the ball going, and is that a good thing. You lose the ability to distinguish what’s really taking place. This active suppression of the truth in the wayward separates consequences from choices and convinces the wayward that the world of choices without consequences is possible. They’ll get to a point where they’ll believe because they want choices without consequences.
Let’s talk about one other feature of what the wayward want and that is autonomy without accountability. Wayward people want autonomy without the rule of love. In other words, where right voices are dismissed, then we begin to want a world that’s different from the real world that we live in. What can happen with a wayward person, and if there’s somebody in your mind right now that this is mapping onto, you have a sense for how sad it is for them and how desperate you can feel as you watch them walk this road because they want a world where their wants are not open for discussion. Their wants and their desires are not open for the questions of other people.
There is a way of understanding reality where there is absolutely no culpability because, for the prodigal, life is about achieving autonomy without accountability. It’s about achieving autonomy not standing accountable because they don’t really understand, when you’re moving away from God, you’re suppressing truth, you’re going wayward, you’re renouncing roles, you’re rejecting voices, you don’t really make the connection that autonomy comes with responsibility. Autonomy comes with accountability.
A woman can say, “Hey, I’m going to be autonomous. I’m going to be completely free,” but if she blows the red light where the cop is sitting at the corner, she’s going to be held accountable, or a man who says, “I’m going to be autonomous and completely free and have no one to put any responsibilities on me,” but makes sexually suggestive comments to a coworker is going to find out that there are companies policies that he is accountable to that all of a sudden are going to engage.
Let’s map this on to a real person for a second. Let’s talk about a guy. I’ll call him Ray. Ray is a teenager. Ray is rarely cooperative. He is seldom present around home. He is often stoned, and he has no toleration whatsoever for discussion about he’s spending his time, how he’s spending his money, and who he’s spending his time with. In fact, when questions come to him and are asked, he withdraws behind this impenetrable emotional wall away from what he thinks is the meddlesome scrutiny of his parents because they don’t have the right to be asking these kinds of questions.
Like the fool in Proverbs, Ray wants this world where he can freely enjoy the benefits of living at home, and freely enjoy even a certain degree of emotional support that he’ll get from his family and from his parents, but he should be able to freely indulge himself without ever having to explain what he’s … See, the interesting thing about a prodigal is a prodigal will create relational … A prodigal will create the relational policies of a dictator. There is no exaggeration in that statement. That is exactly what happens. In other words, one belief that is undoubtedly shared by all dictators is that I can have radical autonomy without transparency. That’s part of what makes a dictator a tyrant, and part of what allows them to run the country or whatever that is the way they do, autonomy without accountability, autonomy without transparency.
See, one of the things we’re going to discover together when we move deeper into the material tomorrow is what real love has to do is move in and disrupt the illusion that they are living in and find wise ways to do that because we’re going to discover that one of the most crippling things we can do for a prodigal is to feed the delusion that one can actually live autonomous yet dependent on the family to finance their autonomous behavior, or autonomous yet fully supported and fully funded.
Let’s talk about it this way. A wayward soul often creates a kind of power imbalance in relationships because those that love them are willing to do almost anything to hold onto them. Ray, on the other hand, is content to do nothing. He’s not emotionally invested. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t love his parents on some level, but he doesn’t have any understanding what the word love means. He thinks he needs nothing from them, and so you have the loved one in the relationship who acts desperately to protect relationship while the prodigal basically responds daily with indifference and withdrawal. Basically, the prodigal holds all the cards because the prodigal has no emotional skin in the game.
You begin this enabling thing where the parents or the loved ones, they come along. They try to appease that. They try to protect the peace because they realize he’s not really emotionally invested, and so maybe if we pull this, maybe if we do this, we can get him more into the game. Loving a prodigal, whether it is a spouse that is estranged, it’s somebody you’re a dear friend with, a sibling, a child, it’s an emotionally shocking experience. It’s an emotionally depleting experience because the ground is constantly shifting, and you just don’t know where you’re standing from time to time and how best to lead, and it’ll, quite frankly, frustrate the best leadership abilities that you can bring into the situation.
That’s why we fall back on wanting to appease, or just wanting to keep the peace, or out of a very commendable instinct because we look at Philippians 2, we look at Jesus, we want to be humble in this life-defining trial that we’re walking through. One man who is a Christian who is a leader wrote me, and he described to me a regret that he had at the breakdown of his marriage. He described it this way. He says, “My first wife,” let’s call her Liz, “My first wife left me without biblical grounds, got involved with another man and married him. It was a very painful time. I tried everything I knew to try to keep the marriage together, but it just wouldn’t work.”
He goes on to say, “I feel like one mistake I made in trying to keep the marriage together was falling into a kind of anything goes mentality in that I did not confront Liz enough about what she was doing. She certainly knew that I believed it was very wrong and unbiblical. That was clear, but I let that remain in the background and took more of a I’ll-do-whatever-you-want approach, which I think, at the end of the day, actually may have increased her confidence in her path. I took a learner approach, asking Liz about my fault and what I could’ve done better, which, of course, has its place and is important, but it almost gave her a sense of a free pass as it became about my mistakes rather than Liz’s insistence on going against the teaching of Scripture and against her wedding vows.”
Here’s one of the hardest things to come to terms with when you’re dealing with somebody who is moving from fool to wayward, who’s renouncing roles, who’s rejecting voices, here’s one of the hardest thing to come to terms with and that is that fools don’t respect fear. Fools don’t respect neediness. They exploit it. Actually, they’ll exploit that. When that’s our strategy within the home or with the people that we love, that tyranny just gets fed because, again, tyranny reaches for radical autonomy. In some situations, our commendable humility, our commendable desires to honor God isn’t necessarily correspondingly wise because our humility and our weakness empowers their entitlement.
In fact, when we’re together tomorrow morning, we’re going to discover that prodigals need to encounter a love that is rugged enough to upset that balance and to force a hard reset in the world, in the delusionary world in which they are living. This first session is by far the most gracing, and I’m very aware of that because what’s happening here is we’re coming face to face with that mystery of lawlessness and trying to understand it in some ways. I want you to know that even in talking about this, even in talking about what the wayward want, the point of this is not, “Behold, the complexity of prodigals, who can know them,” or “Beware of the prodigal path that this is so crazy, this is going to be so terrible for you.”
See, part of what makes grace so glorious is that it’s more stubborn and more potent than sin. That’s where our confidence lies. See, what the gospel does is the gospel reveals to us a rugged love that is resilient enough to meet prodigals in their flight and to turn them around, regardless whether they want to be turned around or not, and then brings a grace that is so deep that it has the power to pull us back from the darkest places that we can go, from the worst places that we can imagine. That’s the gospel that has made the difference in our life. I mean, many of us were like this. If we had the microphone and could have the time, we could have many of us come up on stage and just share your story. We would be so encouraged to hear about the power of the gospel to break through the darkness because God loves us and grace is powerful.
There is a fascinating story, and I’m going to end with this actually. There’s a fascinating story. It appears in the afterword of the book. It’s about the Apostle John, and it’s told by Clement and apparently after John’s exile. John visits Smyrna, and while he’s there, he meets a young man who has incredible potential, unbelievably gifted, very charismatic, very engaging, and the community really enjoys him, and he has all this leadership potential. John is really impressed with the passion and the potential and sees that this guy, under the right discipleship, and under the right mentoring could make a huge impact upon the kingdom of God.
John goes to the local bishop and says, “I want you to have this man into your home. If he will move in with you, you can train him, and you can disciple him, and you can make a difference.” That happens, and John leaves the city. Time passes, and for the first few months, it’s a great arrangement, but as more time goes on, old friends begin to call on this guy because he was in with quite a crowd prior to becoming a Christian. He slowly began to compromise. One thing led to another. He began walking the path of foolishness and began rejecting the bishop’s voice and renouncing his roles, and ultimately fell back in with this group, except he graduated from this group to one of the worst gangs. It was a band of robbers. He became the chief of this band of robbers.
This is all going on, and about several years pass, and then the Apostle John comes back to town. John visits the bishop and says, “Well, my protégé, how is he doing?” This is what the bishop says. The bishop says to him, “He is dead,” and then there’s a long pause, “To God. He is dead to God.” Listen, if you’re here this evening and you love a prodigal, man, you understand that statement. You understand the pain and the desperation of that statement. You understand the surreal confusion. You understand the sense of almost being defrauded because it just wasn’t supposed to work out this way. This was not the way the script was supposed to be written. This is not the way this was supposed to happen. You see, this is the way this happens. I pour into him. I invest into him. He flourishes. He’s a testimony to me. He becomes an impactful person in the church. That’s the way the story is supposed to go. He is dead to God.
The Apostle John turns and immediately calls for a horse. He’s an old guy. He gets up on the back of the horse, and he rides out to where the gang hideout is, whereupon just coming into the outer perimeter, he is seized, and he’s pulled off of the horse. The Apostle John is taken prisoner by this gang to which he screams out, and he says, “Take me prisoner. For this, I came. Lead me to your captain. I want to see your captain.” They’re leading him to the captain, and he sees him from afar, this old man, bound up, and he can’t believe that it’s the Apostle John, and so the captain of the robbers starts running away from John. John breaks free of the guys that have him wrapped up, and he starts running after the guy. He’s screaming out to him, and he saying, “Why?” He says, “Why do you flee? Why do you flee from me?” He says, “Gladly would I die for you.” Then he says, “Stand. Believe. Christ has sent me. Stand.”
The young man slows down. The young man stops. He turns. He embraces John, and he just dissolves in his arms as years of shame and years of rebellion evaporate in the face of a rugged love. If you’re sitting here this evening, and you’re sitting here, you’re wondering, you’re thinking, “What in the world makes a love so rugged that it carries that kind of courage that it can pursue somebody to that degree, and then it can make that kind of difference in the life of that kind of person?” Well, that’s exactly where we’re going to pick up tomorrow morning. Let’s pray.
Heavenly Father, our burdens in this room for people that are not in this room, for people that are far away from this room, and yet we feel You reaching out to us that we might reach out to them. We feel You stirring our faith. We sense the impact of Your word. We are encouraged by stories from present and past. We just want to ask you to grant us faith. Lord, we have some faith. We believe but help our unbelief because we want to leave here armed to be able to make a difference and to what to do. We pray that you would meet us in that simple prayer, in Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.