Prayer is crucial in evangelism: Only God can change the heart of someone who is in rebellion against Him. No matter how logical our arguments or how fervent our appeals are, our words will accomplish nothing unless God’s Spirit prepares the way. Prayers have no boundaries.
– Billy Graham
The above quote rings true and is supported by the following verses quoted from Scripture:
1. “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the labourers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into His harvest.”(Matthew 9:38-39). Prayer plays a vital role in evangelism. Christ instructs us to pray that God will send His people into all areas to accomplish the work of evangelisation.
2. “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”(Acts 1:8). The disciples came together as Jesus instructed – “with one accord in prayer and supplication“ (Acts 1:14) – to wait for the infilling of the Holy Spirit. To be witnesses for Christ is a working of the Holy Spirit. Spiritual awakenings, from the early Church until now, have been the result of prayer.
3. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. (John 17:18) We are sent just as Jesus was sent by the Father.
4. “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word…” (John 17:19-20). We follow the model of Jesus’ prayer, to pray for those who will come into His kingdom through the faithful evangelisation by His disciples.
Why is it important to ‘pray in evangelism’?
The prophet Samuel regarded it a sin before God not to pray for others. …far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way. Only fear the LORD, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you. (1 Samuel 12:23). From his life we learn that we ought to pray with fervour for the people we are reaching out to. He prayed fervently for them whilst also leading them to walk in the truth of God’s way.
The apostle Paul asks for prayer covering as he prepares to evangelise. (Pray) for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel… (Ephesians 6:18). The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, after modelling his prayers to his readers, asks them to pray. He is very specific in his request – to pray for evangelism.
The following excerpt is taken from Lausanne Occasional Paper 42: Prayer in Evangelism: ‘Prayer in evangelism’ is prayer for the unsaved, asking the Lord to draw them to Himself (John 6:44); to open their ears to understand the truth (Matthew 13:19); and to open their eyes to see the light of the gospel (2 Corinthians 4:4). It also involves praying for ourselves that we may have compassion for the spiritual well-being of unbelievers and be open to sharing the good news as He opens the door of opportunity. Simply put, in evangelistic praying we talk to God about people and then talk to people about God.
What is the difference between missions and evangelism?
Missions and evangelism are two concepts that should not be confused.
Evangelism simply is an opportunity where you share the gospel with someone else. It does not necessarily mean that the person on the receiving end will commit, but you have shared the gospel with them.
Missions is doing the above, but cross-culturally. It can also involve establishing a church and sharing the gospel with people that might not have had any access to the gospel.
Each one of us has the opportunity and privilege to co-labour with God in prayer in establishing His kingdom.
Start praying for someone today
1. Pray faithfully and intentionally for people in your circle of influence. Also, be sensitive to the nudges of the Holy Spirit who to pray for.
2. As a family, ‘adopt’ unreached people groups or unsaved people in prayer so that Christian values may be passed on to the next generation. “As for Me,” says the LORD, “this is My covenant with them: My Spirit who is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your descendants, nor from the mouth of your descendants’ descendants,” says the LORD, “from this time and forevermore.”(Isaiah 59:21).
3. Pray and ask the Lord for opportunities throughout your day where you can share your faith in Christ.
At school – Spark a conversation with the parents. Get to know their names and the names of their children. Start praying for them by name.
E-hailing drivers – When you select your driver on the app, pray for them even as they are en route to you. Ask the Holy Spirit for an opportunity during the drive to share the gospel with the driver and bless them in prayer. They hardly refuse prayer!
At the mall – Being kind and courteous in an environment where everyone is caught up in the hustle and bustle of things, normally gives a fraction of an opportunity to share the light of Christ with others. Be aware of the people around you, pray God’s blessing upon them in your thoughts. If the opportunity arises, why not conversationally pray for them?
4. Physically go to areas where the people stay who are being prayed for through prayer walks and prayer journeys.
5. Pray for church leaders to motivate and encourage congregants to be intentional about prayer and evangelism. Pray for church leaders from different congregations to pray in unison for communities, cities, and nations. For them to come together with existing prayer networks to mobilise people to pray for revival.