Evangelism without prayer is cultivation with out water
The last mandate of our Lord leaves no place for any doubt or question. We are commanded to make disciples of all nations (Mt.28:19,20). Mark has a different version of the mandate saying, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation” (Mar 16:15). In other words our preaching is going to have far reaching cosmic effects. It is going to affect the whole creation which is now groaning (Rom.8:22). We are entrusted with the ministry of reconciliation, reconciling the world to God (2Cor.5:19). The task is indeed great and the amazing thing is that WE are entrusted with this!
Truly speaking, the work of redemption is the work of God from A to Z. God the Father planned it before the foundation of the world and God the Son took human form in the fullness of time and did every thing needed for the redemption of the world and the work of redemption is being carried on by God the Holy Spirit today using humans who are instruments in His hands.
We who are redeemed by the blood of the lamb are called upon to be witnesses and agents through whom the process of redemption is continued today in the world. Talking about the harvest which is truly plenteous, our Lord asked us to pray to the Lord of the harvest would send laborers into the field (Mt.9:37,38). It is the Lord who has to send out laborers into the field and HE DOES THAT IN ANSWER TO THE PRAYERS OF HIS REDEEMED ONES!
Paul asks the Thessalonian believers to pray that he and his co-workers would be protected from evil people and that the word might spread fast through them (2Thes.3:1,2). So, it is not only the Lord who sends the laborers into the field, it is He who would PROTECT THE LABORERS AND SPEED UP THE WORK, AGAIN, IN ANSWER TO THE PRAYERS OF HIS PEOPLE!
Then Paul asks that believers should pray, pray continually in Spirit and persevere in it that the word might be given to him as he opens his mouth to proclaim the word and that he might do it with confidence (Eph.6:18,19). It is the Lord who has to give the word in the mouth of the preacher, AGAIN IN ANSWER TO THE PRAYERS OF HIS PEOPLE!
Though redemption is fully the work of God, it is amazing that He does all the various aspects of it today in the world just in answer to the prayers of His people. If the work of God is not progressing as it should, it is because the people of God failed in their task of praying for the world evangelization. When ever the work of God flourished in the world, it is simply in proportion to the prayers of God’s people in that generation. There is no exception to this truth in the history of the church.
The moment we think of evangelism, we think of going out and preaching or going out doing some distribution work. That is where we failed in our attempts in evangelizing the world. We do very hard work teaching, preaching and distributing. But we fail in obeying the instruction of the Word where it clearly says that we should begin it at the feet of the Lord.
Tragically, even well meaning servants of God have not grasped the simple truth that ministering to the Lord is different from the work of the Lord. This distinction is made abundantly clear in Acts 13:2 where we read, “As they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, …. the Holy Spirit said, ‘set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work…'”. If the early church was successful in evangelizing the then known world, the secret is simply this. They waited upon the Lord with fasting and prayer and obeyed the instructions of the Lord about the work which the Lord wanted them to do. We have miserably failed in our day because we are too busy working for the Lord that we have no time to minister to the Lord!
The truth that emerges from this is very simple. If our evangelism has to be successful, our relationship with the Lord has to be strong and our time with Him as individuals and as churches must be meaningful. Our Lord has clearly taught us that letter kills and it is the spirit which gives life. The truth many well meaning preachers fail to realize is that a preacher without hardened knees would simply harden the heart of his hearers!
Often we hear that the hearers are hard hearted and they do not respond to the gospel these days. The truth is just the opposite. The truth is that the preacher preaches from his book knowledge and the spirit is left untouched.
Would that we stopped all our preaching and all our work for the Lord! Would that we, as individuals and as assemblies of God’s people, waited upon Him and ministered to Him, asking Him what to do and where to go before we ever went out! Would that we realized that we have no strength in ourselves to do that task which is entrusted to us and would that we waited upon Him and endued with power from on high before we ever went out!
The ultimate purpose of the church in the world is to stand against the viles of the enemy (Eph.6:10). For that we need to be strengthened with the might of God. We need to put on the whole armor of God and stand against the enemy. Only then we would be able to snatch a few from fire as expected of us(Jude v.23). And the only thing the soldier of the cross, who is to be found with the full armor of God, is to do is to pray, pray, pray, pray and pray as we find in v.18 of Eph. 6. In that one verse five different synonyms are used for the word prayer emphasizing the place of prayer in the life of the church and in the life of individual believers. May the good Lord give us grace to see what is expected of us and may He give us grace to make ourselves available to Him to do what He expects us to do. Only then the purpose for which He redeemed us would be fulfilled. Only then the task of evangelism would be accomplished as He expects. May His name be glorified through us.