One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples."He said to them, "When you pray, say: 'Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.'" Luke 11:1-4
Real Prayer is Saturation Prayer
This passage in Luke is not a prayer, but rather a model for us to follow on how to pray. The closer we follow this passage, the closer we come to our Lord. The closer we come to attaining the fullness of our spiritual potential, the better we pray. As members of the body of Christ, it is our responsibility to be always teaching one another how to pray. The best teacher is the one who models it in his or her life. We are to model this in all activities and pursuits in the church. We are to be specific, simple, and follow the above aspects, so that our prayers are relevant and not too general or crude. We must be honest and open with our Lord and our will needs to be opened because of what He has done for us, who He is, what we wish to do, and who we are to Him. Then, we can share our burdens and intimacy.
Prayer is pivotal and essential. Prayer is meant to line us up in His will and with His empowerment. Being faithful in prayer is the essential mechanism for reaching others with the faith. Nothing of value can accrue in you or through you without prayer. These Scriptures, Matthew 9:35-38, John 14:12-14, and Colossians 4:2-6 testify to us that we need to be praying for workers, for ourselves, for opportunities, and for those who do not know Him.
Prayer is our key to God's door. It is our foundation to the exercising of and growth in the faith, and essential in our witnessing. It is the work of Christ through the work of the Spirit that saves. Prayer lines us up to His will and grows us in maturity and understanding. It is the power behind, in the mist of, and in front of the faith. To be effective in your growth in Christ, you have to be a person who prays-and prays regularly. To witness, you must be praying for that person's soul and conversion. Pray as specifically as you can, and as often as you can. It may take a few minutes; it may take many years. Whatever the cost and time, prayer is the foundation to any work of evangelism. Without effective prayer, you cannot be effective in your evangelism-period! Do not even try it without prayer. Sharing your faith without praying for the person is like training a pig to fly; all you will do is waste your time and annoy the pig. All you will accomplish in trying to do evangelism without prayer is distance yourself from God, waste your time, and annoy the person. Why? Because you are trying to do the work of God without God.
If you think that you do not know how to pray, you need to ask yourself, do I know how to talk and listen? If you know how to talk to another person, then you know how to pray! Prayer is basically our communication with the Great, Sovereign God of the Universe who wants the best for us and who wants to hear from us. The great wonder is not so much in how we pray, but that God is willing to listen to us. The great, wonderful fallout from our redemption is our ability to pray real and effective prayers that God actually hears and to which He responds. God will actually speak to us through His Word; the Holy Spirit teaches and convicts us through the Word. The fact is, our prayer time with God is basically our conversing with Him, through which we express our gratitude for whom He is, what He did for us, and how we can discover our purpose in life. Thus, through our prayers, we can be taught, we can grow, and we can be convicted so we can apply His precepts to our lives and affect those around us, too. This then transfers to the people God lays upon our heart to reach, connecting with Him before we connect with them.
Prayer is not just talking to God. It is also meant to further link us to Him and develop our relationship with Him so we can build our faith, character, maturity, and then our witness. Remember, we have access to God; we have permission to come to Him! Wow. What a privilege we have!
Practical Strategies for Praying for Evangelism
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Colossians 4:2-3
1. Know this important point: No amount of corporate prayer will make up for a lack of personal prayer. That is, you can and should pray as a group, but because you pray as a group does not mean you can cut back on your personal prayer time. Your personal prayer time is the key to your growth in Christ.
2. There is no better use of your personal and ministry time than prayer!
3. There is a phrase that says, "Familiarity breeds contempt." Sometimes, the people we are close to have hurt us even betrayed us; perhaps we just do not trust them, perhaps we fear their response, or perhaps we just do not care. We have to have a heart for someone before we can be an effective witness. Continue in your character development and spiritual growth, be consistent, and allow your changed life to show without words-even when others do not respond well to you. Start to pray for them. Then, when you have a heart for them, start to be in prayer, pray more, and then use your words to witness. Do not witness to people you have contempt for, as your attitude will show. All that will accomplish is to give the Lord a bad reputation and make it harder for the next person. Wait until you have the right attitude. As the stewards of the airliner says, "first put the mask on yourself before you put it on someone else."
4. It is essential that all those on staff and leadership of your church be people of continual prayer. If they are not persons of prayer, then they should not be in leadership.
5. When I went through the training at the Billy Graham School of Evangelism and "Crusade Training," the point was made that over 90 per cent of the people who come to a Crusade, and 95+ per cent of those who go onto the field and pray to accept Jesus, have been regularly prayed for by others for a significant period of time.
Be a Church of Prayer!
What is the essential thing to do before each activity, meeting, or event at your church or potential church? Pray. Prayer is the platform on which plans begin, end, and rest. There should never be anything that goes on at a church that does not have prayer at the central core. Remember confidentiality. Prayer requests are not ammunition for gossip. If your church is not a church of prayer, your church is not healthy; it is not in God's will, nor is it focused on Christ. Your church is a mere club for the prideful.
Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of Grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:4-6
1. Begin each meeting in prayer, and spend at least four-fifths to one-third or more of that meeting in prayer. You say you do not have the time? Well, most meetings are taken up by poor preparation, not following the agenda, and trivial discussions that go in circles. Have the agenda given out a day before and require all to read it before the meeting. Then, by putting the focus on prayer, meetings actually go faster because people will be of one mind and direction. (Well, mostly.)
2. Spend significant time in prayer between meeting sessions about the decisions that need to be made. Do not just fret over them. Prayer will move the focus away from our perceived agenda to His agenda. We then can surrender selfish ambitions to do what is best for His church.
3. Have a specific core of people pray before each worship service and event at the church. So, if the Junior High group is having a "lock in," have a small group come before it starts and just pray. Before the event, for safety, get specific requests from the leaders of the event. Have teams pray before and during ministry programs, such as ones for children and youth. While the youth meeting is going on, have a prayer team in another room praying. Do this for all ministries and activities of the church.
4. Sunday service prayer group is a small group of people who are there early to pray (the longer the better), and pray in authority for satanic removal. This type of prayer is in the authority and the name of Christ. The group can literally go through the church and cast away demons and any evil curses, incantations, hexes, spells, etc. One would be surprised at the number of satanic and witch groups in our towns and cities, trying with all their little hearts to distort and destroy us in the name of Satan!
5. Continue to have prayer walks through your neighborhood.
6. Have assigned people to pray for each church planter, pastor, and missionary of the church on a constant basis. Do this for both individual prayer warriors and, collectively, for a prayer group.
7. Have a team of prayer warriors to pray for government officials. Invite city and government officials over for social events in the church, and see if you can pray for them in person. Be cautious and tactful but never forceful to others. See if you can make appointments with them at their offices, and ask their permission to keep them in prayer. Pray for them on the spot if they desire. You will be surprised at the response; most elected officials will not turn you down. If they do, then do as Matthew 10 tells us. If you are in a country where Christianity is outlawed, this approach may put you in danger, so it may be best just to pray at home.
8. This may sound on the edge, but it is not, and is totally Biblical. Have a trained team of people to engage in spiritual warfare. Simply put-pray against the strongholds (an area of demonic activities such as pornographers, cult groups, temples or any evil). Keep it simple and focused upon Christ and the work of the Spirit.
9. Have a trained team of people to pray for people after each Bible study and church service. That way, a sufficient number of people are partaking so no one is being rushed.
10. Fasting is for today! It is not a tool to force God to comply, but for us to comply with His will.
11. Have 24-hour prayer vigils on a regular basis, where two or more people are at the church, potentially praying all the time. (Do this in short sessions so they do not "burn out.")
12. Have "Concerts of Prayer," on a monthly basis and, eventually, on a weekly basis. That is, have a prayer service with directed prayer and silent prayer. Pray for revival, for individuals, for government, etc.
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Ephesians 6:18
The best prayers tend to be targeted to specifics. God is a God of details. He knows them, and He wants you to know them too. Prayer is not only for when it is convenient or for short periods of time when we can remember; prayer is to be continual and persistent, the occupation of our soul. It may start small, but as you pray, it will grow. Your persistence is key.
1. Hold your relationships up in prayer. For individuals, find out (without gossip) needs and concerns, and then pray. While in prayer, look for opportunities to share.
2. Identify any demonic influences. These are called "strongholds" and include cults, temples, sin-based businesses such as adult bookstores and sleazy bars, and pray against them. Satanic strongholds are the devil's campgrounds to war against the work of God. Satan cannot take any ground that Christ will not allow.
3. Find out the problems and needs of your city such as adult bookstores, false religions, poverty, fatherless families, jobs, and corruption. Pray as you walk, pray at home, and pray at your church.
4. You can take the strongholds down simply by focused prayer. Pray as you walk by them, pray at home, and pray at your church. Strongholds are not fringed, charismatic things; they are biblical precepts.
5. Make sure you have confessed your sins and repented before you dare do this. Repentance is essential; after you repent, you can resist the devil. So, be prepared for a backlash to your efforts. Keep up the prayer with your eyes and resolve focused upon Him.
6. Do not condemn or judge others for their lifestyle or decisions. Such actions by us are not biblical or fruitful.
7. Remember, the more you pray the more you will be used. Your fulltime job will to be to pray for these with whom you are to share the love of our Lord.
8. It has been my experience in church planning and evangelism that it takes at least one month of continual prayer before your witness is effective.
You will find more prayer resources on our website at www.intothyword.org located on our Prayer Channel.
Pray: Let us, oh Lord, be willing to learn about you, to grow by your example of obedience and be willing to go through times of waiting, confusion, discouragement, and even suffering and see your precious opportunities of personal growth, faith building, and strengthening.
© 2006, Richard J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org