Powerful Prayers: Let my Heart be Broken by the Things that Break the Heart of God
Sunday, July 25, 2021
Pastor Deb Kielsmeier
Ezekiel 36:25-27 and Matthew 25:34-40
Powerful Prayers. This is the last in our sermon series exploring powerful prayers. Prayers that are so powerful, that if you pray them – and sincerely mean them, they have the power to upend your world and transform your life. In a good way… but still. Handle with care.
Today’s prayer is not written in the Bible. It was written on a Bible. Scribbled on the flyleaf of a Bible owned by a man whose heart broke when he encountered the suffering, hunger and poverty of orphans in Asia.
His name was Bob Pierce. It was 1947. He was working as an evangelist for a ministry called Youth for Christ, holding revivals in China – something like a young Billy Graham. In China, he met a battered and abandoned little girl. Pierce emptied his pockets of his last five dollars and agreed to send the same amount each month to help for her care. It was a drop in the bucket, he realized, as he encountered thousands upon thousands of orphans in his travels.
Soon afterward he scribbled this prayer on the fly leaf of his Bible. “Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.” God answered that prayer.
After dragging a movie camera across Asia, Pierce shared photographs of the children he met with congregations back in the U.S. He encouraged others to “adopt” or sponsor one and by 1950 he incorporated this effort as a nonprofit organization, World Vision. You may have heard of World Vision. Today they are in nearly 100 countries worldwide and support over 3.5 million vulnerable children through donors like you. They also provide for millions in disaster relief, clean water and food for the hungry.
Lord, let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God. It is a prayer will change your life. It will open your ears to hear and your eyes to see. And it is not for the faint of heart.
In our gospel lesson for today, King Jesus tells the righteous ones,
I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick, and you looked after me, I was in prison, and you came to visit me.’
But they are completely dumbfounded. “Wait….When did we see you in need and help you?” Jesus tells them ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Jesus is there… in every hungry, thirsty, sick, and imprisoned person you will ever encounter. He so closely identifies with the vulnerable or the “least of these” that how we treat them, it is how we treat our God and king. Wow.
Part of the problem is that we often just don’t see. We are blind and deaf to the suffering of others. Out of sight, out of mind.
But some of you have visited Tanzania, Guatemala, and other parts of the world. You have seen the suffering and poverty, and your hearts were broken. Some of you have had your eyes opened to the suffering right outside your door. And it has broken your heart.
I don’t know what will break your heart, if you pray this prayer. It may be abuse, racial injustice, or addiction. It may be hunger or the lack of clean drinking water. A dear friend of mine works here in the Twin Cities to end human trafficking and free women trapped in prostitution. Your heart may break for those who have never known the deep love and peace of Christ in their lives.
As we begin to see the needs and feel the suffering, our hearts break with God’s. And that is not always easy. But how much better it is to hurt with a purpose than to exist without one. Truly following Jesus was never meant to be a cushy endeavor. This prayer will break us out of our pursuit of ease, and our spiritual apathy. You will be thrust into God’s work, and into the calling and purpose for which you were created.
In our Ezekiel reading, God says, “A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”
God’s heart is one of compassion. And it breaks over us.
Jeremiah is called the weeping prophet because he communicates God’s deep sorrow over Judah’s corruption and faithlessness.
Jesus wept over Jerusalem because his very own people rejected the peace and life that he offered them… and it broke his heart.
Jesus’ heart breaks for us too, “we who are weary and worn out, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matt. 9:36).
Hebrews 5:7 tells us, Jesus offered prayers and appeals with loud cries and tears to his Father. Our plight broke his heart and it cost him his life.
I don’t know what will break your heart, if you pray this prayer. But I hope you will pray it. And then ask God to give you a new heart, one of flesh. One of compassion. Then, watch out. Your faith will meet life.
It may be your neighbors – needing help with an electric bill or clothing.
It may those suffering on the other side of the world. The poorest 5% in America are still richer than 68% of the world’s population. The needs are immense.
You might join with others to make an even bigger impact. Reach out with loaves and fishes to feed the hungry or help build a home with Habitat for Humanity this August. Visit or pray for our global partners. Augustana has many opportunities and together we can make a bigger difference.
I don’t know what will break your heart, if you pray this prayer. But I know -if you sincerely mean it and then attend to the Spirit’s nudges and prompting. Your life will never be the same.
Pray with me…
Lord God, give us the courage to pray, “Break my heart with the things that break yours.” It is a scary prayer. And we know we can’t do everything. But we want our eyes to opened, and we want your heart of compassion. Take away our blindness and our hearts of stone and give us your spirit and new hearts of flesh, that might serve those you call us to love.
In Jesus name we pray,