“Prayer is our invitation to God to intervene in the affairs of earth. It is our request for Him to work His ways in the world.” – Dr. Myles Monroe
A main ingredient of Christ following is our voluntary response to His invitations. In short, it’s about our choice to worship Him with our lives or to refuse to do so. An INVITATION is a written or verbal request or action inviting someone to go somewhere or do something. We give and receive invitations all the time: to weddings, birthday parties, cookouts, and events. Invitations are about the pursuit, initiation, development, enhancement, or celebration of relationships. We invite folks to join with us because we believe the engagement will be of benefit to them, or will further mutual friendship, experience, love, or purpose.
Jesus invited His disciples into relationship with Him with the words, “Follow Me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.” (Mark 1:17) They, like us, had the choice to respond or to ignore Jesus’ invitation, the cost of which became more clear in Matthew 16:24, “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.“The invitation to follow Jesus in relationship accompanied His call for self- denial and sacrifice.Each time we read a command of Scripture, enter into the Lord’s Presence, have an opportunity to serve, give generously, or follow God’s call; any time we are prompted or convicted by the Holy Spirit…it is an invitation to fellowship more deeply with Christ, and to become more like Him. The Lord has given us free will to accept or deny—not just His existence, but His many invitations. Jesus declares, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” (Rev. 3:20) If we’re honest, we’d admit there are times when we’ve refused the Lord’s invitation saying, “Let me get back to You.”
Jesus likened the Kingdom of God to a ruler who holds a banquet and invites many guests who refuse to come for a variety of reasons/ excuses. (Matthew 22, Luke 14) They deemed their businesses, financial pursuits, and family situations higher priorities than dining with the king, and refused his invitation. This dishonor and rejection angered the ruler, who sent his servants,”…out into the highways to gather together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests.” (Matt. 22:10)
The ruler starkly deviates from his initial guest list without regard for the moral, social, physical, or economic status of his new attendees. Filling the room became more important than deciphering which guests were worthy. The ruler tells his servant, “‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the city, and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame…” (Luke 14:21) After that had been done, the servant declared, “There is still room,” so the ruler commanded, “Go out to the highways and hedges and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. For I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will taste my banquet.” (Vs. 23-24) I wonder how many empty churches would be filled if we followed the principles of this parable from Jesus. Christ is still making His invitation, “Follow Me, and I will make you…” Will you accept or deny Him? Your reasons/excuses for refusing His invitation could cause you to be uninvited— your place offered to another. Jesus is calling us to go out into the streets and invite ‘the others’ to His banquet table, so His house will be full.