God sometimes issues the most surprising summons in prayer. Among them are the “come over here” prayers. As recorded in Acts 16, St. Paul intended to revisit churches in Asia to strengthen them. But The Holy Spirit prevented him from doing so, in several ways, until he received a nighttime vision/dream of a man of Macedonia begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” As such, he decided to “come over” to territory which had not yet heard the gospel, among them the city of Philippi. The same kind of thing happened to St. Patrick after his escape from slavery in Ireland. Back home in Wales, he “heard” the voice of the Irish saying, “we beg you, holy shepherd, come and walk among us again.” And so began the most remarkable return to Ireland, eventually as a bishop, and a more remarkable conversion of an entire pagan people.
I believe that, today, these “come over” prayers are being issued by God once again. All over the U.S. we are hearing stories of nonbelievers having remarkable encounters with God and with the believers whom He sends over to guide them, much as He did with Philip who went to a eunuch on a desert road, having been summoned there in prayer by God. While we in the church are understandably concerned about rebuilding God’s church and flock within, perhaps we need to look and listen for ways He wishes to do so without, with those sheep that are not of our fold that He must bring in. Will we be attentive to His “come over” prayers for these most unlikely people all around us? Will we be stunned like the prophet Jonah who saw the multitudes in Nineveh, who didn’t know their right hand from their left, but who were more ready than the prophet realized to repent and turn to the Lord? Or will just hide in our safe places, or perhaps just run away from God altogether?