Prayer - Lessons of the Harvest
In simpler times, harvest used to be a prominent part of the regular cycle of life. But as cities grew, and farmlands were more secluded to rural areas, the time of harvest became more a remote concept to metropolitan mindsets.
Have we forgotten the harvest and the life lessons it gives us? Does it take a different twist when we are many steps removed from the field's bounty to the table feast? Could we still directly reap from the harvest and enjoy the best fruits?
Recently I acquired some seasonal fruit for the purpose of making some family favorites; pies, sauces and butters. I was excited to gather this fresh fruit. But even though they looked great hanging from the branches, once they were picked and prepared, there was something strangely absent - taste! The harvest of this fruit had lost its purpose and it required additional help to bring out the intended flavor of the fruit.
The harvest is the evaluation of the planting. It is hard to tell what the future crop will be when you plant a simple seed. But experience tells us that with all the right conditions and care, you will, indeed, yield a good crop at harvest.
What of the harvest of your prayers.
Certainly, answers to prayer would point to a harvesting, dependent on God's timing. But answers to prayer are only one evaluation of the harvest.
As you look back over the past year, has your prayer life yielded a harvest? Are you experiencing prayer in a greater capacity than you were two years ago? Have you seen a change in your prayer life or has it all been the same. Do you experience more divine appointments or have you examined how often you speak to God and in different forms? Has prayer become more of the fruit of your spirit's peace as you graft ceaseless prayer into your day?
One notion of the harvest is growth. A tree with a long life never stays the same from year to year - it always changes because it always grows. As a sapling, it will grow to maturity, but even in maturity it will still grow deep. That growth is not necessarily seen by all but is deep in the soil where only God sees clearly. In Matthew 6, in the Sermon on the Mount, Christ repeatedly uses the phrase, "but God who sees in secret will reward you." God's reward is your harvest. The God who knows your heart, your motives, will pour His goodness into you, making you sweet with His purpose. The daily attentiveness of your prayers will yield its fruit in season and out of season.
Even though our society has become more cosmopolitan and one step removed from the time of harvest, scripture is full of its images. Leviticus gives very specific instruction about the harvest and points to how we need to be deliberate in the process of our planting to yield the best fruit. Biblical harvest is also a time of celebration, a time of gathering and lifting our corporate praises up to the Lord. Scriptural harvest also includes the aspect of storing the bounty of harvest for when the lean times come. It is easy to praise in times of plenty but it is a remembering of God's abundance during times of emptiness and discouragement.
Prayer changes things through miraculous healings, financial provisions, and physical protection from danger, etc. But most of all it changes us. Prayer changes our stubbornness, our spiritual weaknesses, our motives, pride and replaces them with His perspective. He gives us His eyes to see the world His way - loving the people we find hard to love and planting the seeds to restore His Creation. Prayer changes our relationship with God and others. It is in ‘growth' that we celebrate the harvest.
Make plans for your prayer harvest. Plan a week long prayer event. Create a prayer walk in the neighborhood of your corps or home. Commit to fasting on a regular basis for specific concerns. Plan now for the harvest and He "will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness." (2 Corinthians 9:10)