FOCUS 40 Devotional 31

Planting Trees Day 31

Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. —Revelation 5:8

A number of years ago I read the story of a German tree farmer. This farmer was planting trees that would not mature for at least a hundred years. When the farmer was questioned about why he would plant for a harvest he would never see, he replied, “I am harvesting trees planted long before I was born by my great-grandfather. I am planting trees for those not yet born.”

My wife Brenda and I started praying for the future wife for each of our boys from the time of their birth. We prayed for just the right woman to enter each of our son’s life. We prayed for a woman whose heart was tender for God. We were praying for someone who might not yet be born. We believe God answered that prayer for each of our three sons.

As you pray for people far from Christ, I think it is important to also pray for future generations that will need to know Christ. The same prayer we used to pray for each of our sons is now an appropriate prayer for each of our eight grandchildren. These prayers should not be necessarily be secret prayers. We often told our sons what we were praying for in their lives.

There were moments that it seemed those prayers were not going to be answered. Two of our sons were traveling a dangerous path, but God brought the right people at the right moment into their lives. These prayers need to be consistent and persistent. Brenda’s mother prayed for decades for her brothers and sisters who were far from Christ. One by one they came to Christ, most of them in their seventies, after years of prayer that seemed to be going nowhere. Your prayers are planting trees for a future harvest, plant faithfully and persistently.

I love the image of Revelation 5 where it describes the golden bowls full of incense which are the prayers of the saints. I envision some of those prayers to be hundreds of years old. Prayers prayed by great-grandfathers for children yet unborn.

Dear Father, today I pray for family members who are far from you. I also pray for children in my family who are not yet born. I pray that you will send people into their lives who will speak your words of hope and that they will come to know you. In Jesus’ name, amen.

 Dr. Steve Birch, Pastor, White Chapel Church of God, South Daytona, Florida

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All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked MSG are taken from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson, copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked NRSV are taken from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked Phillips are taken from The New Testament in Modern English by J. B. Phillips, 1962 edition, published by Harper Collins.

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