As surely as we live at a time when our country and world especially need the saving, sanctifying gospel of Jesus Christ, these are times for not only fervent evangelism but also fervent prayer.
Evangelism and prayer go together in the unfailing plan of God. The apostles whose “beautiful feet” carried the good news of Jesus to the world saw as co-existing priorities “prayer and the ministry of the Word” (Acts 6:4). True evangelistic zeal prompts both.
It is by both proclaiming and praying that Christians truly become laborers together with God. In prayer, we solicit God’s provision and involvement in our attempts to share Jesus with others. Should we wonder if we find ourselves ineffective when we have failed to pray? Through personally teaching, we yield ourselves to God as instruments of righteousness ready for His use. Truly, “it is God who works in [us] to will and to do His good pleasure” as we “shine forth as lights in the world, holding forth the Word of life” (Philippians 2:13, 15-16).
Neither of these evangelistic priorities should be neglected. Yet, if we are to be more inclined to one than the other, let it be prayer. The apostle Paul’s prayer-requests suggest that we should intercede for all, but especially for brethren who are sharing the gospel.
“Pray also for me, that … I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, … , as I should. Pray that God may open a door for our message…. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith.”
(Ephesians 6:19-20; Colossians 4:3-4; II Thessalonians 3:1-3)
While we pray, God wishes to help us become willing laborers ourselves. Prayer is the Lord’s prescription for times such as ours when “the field is white unto harvest” but relatively few are going forth to reap. He implored, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field” (Matthew 9:37-38). Interestingly, those words were spoken to the very men God planned to send. As they prayed for the Lord to provide and send reapers, He worked that internal transformation by which they became such laborers themselves.
As the disciples who originally received the command to pray in Matthew 9 later went out teaching – first to Israel (Matthew 10) and ultimately to the world (Matthew 28) – The Lord’s goal for us, too, is that our evangelistic praying will lead to our evangelistic proclaiming. The Lord Himself works this transformation. “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19).
Plainly, this dual-communication is the key to effective evangelism. Let us all commit ourselves to both prayer and proclamation. And whether we find our personal commission taking us no further than the bounds of our own communities or to the farthest reaches of the globe, let us know that we are working with that God whose power achieves His unfailing plans.