Recently, I started a regularly scheduled women’s prayer event at my church. It’s something I had felt convicted about doing for years, and this year I finally mustered enough courage to get it going. We met on a Saturday morning and prayed through a list of scripture-backed prayer points that my husband and I had written together. It was a great time, and I was encouraged by the time we spent in prayer. A couple of days after the event though, I happened to pop open an email from Crossway, and read this:
“Without the “spark” of prayer, the church quietly loses energy, doing only what is humanly possible… If we want to see the church brought back to life, we have to make room to listen and be led by the Spirit as a community.”
Before reading this email, my heart had already been stirring as I examined my personal evangelism experience, but this quote from Miller hooked me. In the article, Miller lays out that only 85% of Bible-believing Christians do not have a consistent prayer life. I wanted to spend the bulk of this article on evangelism, and how every Christian is called to proclaim the good news of the gospel with their words and deeds, but the reality is, that if we as Christians are not consistently praying for our own lives (let alone someone else’s), how then, can we be charged with the call to evangelize?
Evangelism without prayer is pretty powerless. We may share the gospel by happenstance, but if we want to see our closest friends and family who don’t know Jesus meet Him, we need to pray. Sometimes these two can go hand-in-hand, where we're compelled to first speak, and then prayer follows as we realize what we’ve gotten ourselves into. But more often than not, I believe it's the first prayer that starts the spark of evangelism. It is beholding the beauty of Christ, encountering Him through His Word, and responding by saying “here I am Lord, send me” (Isaiah 6:8).
Part of our calling as believers is to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19-20). We're told by Paul to “honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). In Romans 10, we see Paul first say that it is his “heart's desire and prayer to God… that they may be saved” (Romans 1:1). Then, he shows the Romans their responsibility as believers by calling them to consider the preaching of the good news: “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
Friends, in our world, we have not moved past the need or the call to preach the gospel and be a personal witness of Jesus Christ. If anything, in our post-Christian world, we have a greater responsibility to live out our faith, sharing with gentleness and respect, and to do so through the power of the Holy Spirit.
In Ephesians 3:16-17, we see Paul pray that the church may be “strengthened with power through his [Holy] Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith”.
We have a mighty power that's at work within us. The power of the Spirit is not an add-on god, but rather, the very same power of God that raised Christ from the dead. If we want the watching world to see our good deeds, and glorify Christ, then we must call on the name of the Lord—who desires all people to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4). We must lean into the Holy Spirit, asking Him to make us attentive and bold to proclaim the gospel and make disciples of all nations, while simultaneously praying, as Paul does, to be strengthened in our faith.
Our heart for evangelism is deeply reflected by our own belief in, and heart for the gospel. In essence, the gospel is the good news of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. It’s the message of hope for sinners and sufferers. Jesus, in His sermon on the mount, preached that “out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). Therefore, if these are the truths that we believe, and Christ is the treasure that we cling to, then our love of the gospel and heart for evangelism would naturally be revealed. But if our hearts are clinging to the world, to people, or anything other than Christ, then this will be reflected in the ways we view mission work, evangelism, and the unreached. In my own life, I have often found the approval of others to be more concerning, than the gospel message abounding. I have often let my fear of what others think, keep me from praying in the moment, and sharing the hope I’ve found when someone is suffering. All this has revealed though, is my idolatry of approval.
We need to repent and pray that our hearts would be oriented toward Christ, and burdened for those who do not know Him.
Ultimately this is why I believe Jesus, in Matthew 9:37-38, gave the command to pray earnestly for laborers who would do the work of ministry and preach the good news of the gospel. That word earnestly has the connotation of urgency, as well as sincere conviction and pleading. We are called to get on our knees and plead with the Father to send laborers into the harvest with the message of the gospel. The call of evangelism is for all believers, and it starts with the spark of committed people, passionately praying that those around them, and those far off may be saved.
-Stephanie Englehart:Writer for Chasing Sacred