A recent survey by Moody Bible Institute found that 95 percent of all Christians say they have never led anyone to Christ. Only 2 percent said they have shared the gospel with anyone in the past year, and 59 percent have never shared the gospel with anyone. Yet, almost every believer acknowledges that reaching the lost is our top priority.
Likewise, most Christians will tell you that prayer is important; but research reveals that few Christians spend more than two or three minutes a day in prayer. We should not be legalistic about this, but ought to ask ourselves, “Does my praying validate what I believe and say about the importance of prayer?”
More important, do our prayer lives reflect what the Word of God says on this subject? For example, did you know that 25 of the 28 chapters in the book of Acts mention prayer? One reason the early church turned the world upside down is that they were people of prayer. We will not be the church victorious without the power of God unleashed through our prayers.
Satan wants to distract us from both prayer and evangelism. That is one reason so little of both are being done. Perhaps we will be more motivated to pray when we have a deeper commitment to ourtreach as the church’s top priority. Consider the following 10 ways to pray for evangelism.
Praying for Those You Know
In Acts 26:28, 29 King “Agrippa said to Paul, ‘Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?’ Paul replied, ‘Short time or long—I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.’”
Let’s follow Paul’s example and pray for those with whom we share the gospel. A spiritual war is taking place for the destiny of souls. Pray that those dead in sin will turn to the one who can give them life (John 10:10). Pray that Satan is kept from snatching away what is sown in the heart (Matthew 13:19). Then pray that the eyes of lost people will be opened to the truth that will set them free (John 8:32).
Praying for Workers
Jesus said the fields are ripe for harvest, so we should pray for harvesters (Matthew 9:37, 38). Paul asked, “How will they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14, NASV). Ask God to send workers into the harvest field.
When praying for God to send workers, remember that evangelists are needed not just locally, but worldwide. What God needs, and what Jesus told us to pray for, are workers to bring in the harvest.God will send them, but he wants us to pray about it.
Praying for Yourself
Pray that you will see the lost through the loving eyes of Jesus. Pray for insight to identify those who are outside of Christ. Pray for the words to say and the courage to speak them (Ephesians 6:19). Pray that no souls will be lost on your watch (Ezekiel 33:6-9; Acts 20:26, 27).
Pray that you will be sanctified so you can be used by God (Psalm 51:10-13; 2 Timothy 2:20-22). Mark 3:14 says of Jesus, “He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach.” We must be with Jesus if our evangelism is to be effective. Those who “remain in [him]” will “bear much fruit” (John 15:5). We cannot lead people to Jesus if we are not with him ourselves.
Praying for Revival
Our churches and our nation are in need of revival, and we won’t have revival without prayer. The church began with 3,000 conversions in Acts 2, but not before an extended prayer meeting in Acts 1. Later, the church experienced another explosion of growth after the apostles said, “We will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4, NASB). You can have prayer without revival, but you cannot have revival without prayer. “You do not have because you do not ask God” (James 4:2).
Praying for Your Local Church
Paul wrote frequently in his letters about his prayers for the church. He often went into detail about his specific petitions to God on their behalf (see Ephesians 3:16; Philippians 1:3-5 and Colossians 1:9, 10).
Jesus promised to be present wherever two or three gather in his name (Matthew 18:20). A church is more than the sum of its parts. We have divine power! We must bathe our efforts in prayer as we unite to fulfill our Lord’s commission.
Praying for Open Doors
The New Testament frequently uses the word “door” to mean an opportunity to share the gospel (see Acts 14:27; 1 Corinthians 16:9; 2 Corinthians 2:12; Colossians 4:3; Revelation 3:8). When God opens a door, he does not guarantee that we won’t face opposition or difficulties. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 16, “But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me” (vv. 8, 9).
Wherever great opportunities are given to us for God’s work, the forces of evil will be right there to resist it. We should not be intimidated by this. “The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). If we pray for open doors, we must also pray for courage to enter them when they appear.
Praying for Peace
First Timothy 2:1-4 makes a connection between peace in society and God’s desire for all people to be saved. We are urged to pray for government leaders and those in authority.
Why pray for local, national, and world leaders? Because when society is in chaos and turmoil, freedom is often curtailed and evangelism is more difficult. We must ask God to give world leaders wisdom that there may be peace on earth, that all nations may be open to the gospel, and that the good news may be freely spread to all people.
Praying for Vision and Victory
When sharing the gospel, we will be opposed by “the powers of this dark world” and “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). This satanic power will be arrayed against both us and those we are trying to reach for Christ. A major factor in winning this spiritual war is to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests” (v. 18).
Satan has blinded unbelievers to the reality of their lostness (2 Corinthians 4:3, 4). People will not come to Christ unless their spiritual eyes are opened. The spiritual power released by our prayers may enable those who are bound to be set free.
Praying with Fasting
Fasting is not a popular spiritual discipline in our affluent American culture. Even so, in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus gave directions about this practice (see Matthew 6:16-18). Fasting is something Jesus assumed his disciples would do. Is evangelism important enough to warrant fasting? To ask the question is to answer it.
Reaching the lost and making disciples is the church’s most important work on earth. And prayer is our most powerful ally.
Brian Giese is a retired preaching minister in Kewanee, Illinois.