Impacting Cities & Communities thru Prayer
A Community of Prayer Champions, Praying Churches, Prayed-for Communities
What you are about to read are the components of a Seminar on prayer evangelism for my congregation on July 9th 2011. Phil Miglioratti asked me to share this. What I am writing is not intended to be the definitive answer on this topic. What I have come to appreciate is that God is not into cookie cutter approaches to Kingdom things. This seminar had four components.
1. What is the Gospel (Good News) ?
Unfortunately the preaching of the Gospel or the sharing of the Gospel has been reduced to repeating the sinner's prayer or the "altar call". I am not against these actions when led by the Holy Spirit. However, I recall someone telling me that unless people repeats the sinner's prayer, they are not really saved. I strongly disagree with that statement and mindset. I have led dozens and dozens of people through the sinners pray and not one has remained in the Kingdom. However, when I cooperated with the leading of the Holy Spirit, it was much more effective. I think the problem is that we have confused the sinner's prayer WITH the Gospel. What is the Gospel ? The word "Gospel" means "Good News" but it is associated with proclaiming. What is the Gospel or Good News that we are proclaiming ?The sinner's prayer is a "response" to the Gospel that has just been proclaimed. And there many ways to respond to the Gospel. What is the Good News that we are proclaiming ? Romans 1:3 tells us that this "Good News is about His Son". What about God's Son ? verse 4 tells us - "He was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit". The Gospel/Good News is that Jesus Christ, crucified dead and buried is ALIVE ! That is something to proclaim ! Romans 10:9-10 tells us "if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord" (He is Lord because He is alive and exalted to the highest place) and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." Evangelism is simply helping people respond to the reality of the Good News that Jesus Christ is alive. To reduce that response to the sinner's prayer or altar call touches on another form of legalism.
2. The Significance of Pentecost with Evangelism
When Jesus died on the cross the curtain in the Temple was torn from top to bottom. The typical understanding (which I agree with) is that now we as believers/followers of Jesus Christ have access to the Father (Hebrews 10:20). However, I think there is a bigger picture here. In 2 Corinthians 5:19 we are told that through Christ the world has been reconciled to the Father and He is no longer counting our sins against us. This doesn't mean that we are ALL saved or WITHOUT sin but it does allow for the presence and power of the Holy Spirit to be poured out on ALL flesh. Also in Ephesians 4:5-6 says that there is "one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father who is over all and IN ALL and living through all." Such is the implications of the reconciliation provided by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Here is a paradigm that I am suggesting - God the Father gave His son for the sins of the world in order that the world might be reconciled God through Christ and it is through faith in the resurrected Jesus Christ that we can enjoy the benefits and blessings of this reconciliation.
We are Ambassadors of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:20). We are to be telling the world that God no longer counts their sins against them becasue of Jesus Christ's crucifixion and resurrection. Jesus tells us in Acts 1:8 that it is through the power of the Holy Spirit that we are able to tell the world this Good News. If the Holy Spirit is poured out upon ALL flesh (and already at work in the lives of all people) and the Holy Spirit is upon us with power, then evangelism (helping people to respond to the Good News that Jesus is alive) is a matter of cooperating with what the Holy Spirit is ALREADY doing. What this means is that each person is in a different place spiritually and each person will require a unique way to respond to the Gospel. in order to know WHAT the Holy Spirit is doing we need to be praying. We need to ask - Lord what are you doing in this person's life and how can I cooperate with what you are doing so that they can become a follower of Jesus.
3. The Importance of Prayer.
Jesus is our model. Jesus came to reconcile the world to the Father. In John 5:19 we are told that Jesus did only what He saw the Father doing. Jesus said that the "Father is always working" (John 5:17). When did Jesus "see" what the Father was doing ? Mark 1:35-39 tells us that Jesus would go early in the morning to an isolated place and pray. During His prayer times with the Father Jesus would be informed of His assignment for the day and then He would do it. In this text Peter came to Jesus and said the crowds are here, Jesus didn't care - he said, "we must go onto other towns... this is why I came". Jesus is the perfect model of cooperating with the Father and the Holy Spirit in proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom. We are called to live the same model. In Ephesians 2:6 it says that we have been raised with Christ and "seated with Him in the heavenlies". It also says in Hebrews 7:25 that Jesus lives to pray (intercede). Jesus continues to pray the Father's will because the Father is still working, calling people to Himself through Christ. We are called to pray for ALL people to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:1-6). It is as we spend time in prayer that we will discern what the Holy Spirit is doing in the lives of people and that becomes our focus. Paul experience this when he was called to Macedonia through a dream from the Holy Spirit ( a type of prayer communication).
4. The Place of Spiritual Warfare
However, there are times when people are resistant to the reality of the Good News that Jesus is alive. Why ? How ? The devil, the god of this world has blinded the minds of those who don't believe (2 Corinthians 4:4). The devil is able to use our pride and human reasoning to create strongholds (mindsets etc.,) to be resistant to the Good News of Jesus being alive. Before they can accept the reality of the resurrected Jesus, these strongholds have to be dismantled. Again, this emphasizes the importance of prayer. Before we can talk to people about Jesus, we need to talk to Jesus about the people. In talking to Jesus, He will through the Holy Spirit, show us how to pray. As we cooperate with the Holy Spirit the truth of Jesus begins to be revealed and they will come to know what His is alive and He is Lord.
Putting it All Together
Here are two testimonies that pulls this all together.
1. My ministry is all about prayer, which means that I pray alot. I always ask for the infilling of the Holy Spirit so that I can recognize those Holy Spirit moments in ministry. One day Rick (not real name) came to my office. He was not a believer. As he sat down, the word "pornography" appeared between us, suspended in the air. I asked him "How long have you been struggling with pornography ?" He was shocked, he said - "That is why I am here - to talk about my issues with pornography". So we chatted and talked. He wanted help. I said I can't help but Jesus can - let's talk to him - okay ?" He was sure, but said yes. I began talking to Jesus, thanking Him for what He had done on the cross and that He is alive. I invited the Holy Spirit to come upon us. After a little bit of very intense silence, Rick began to cry. I asked - "What is happening ?" "Jesus is standing right in front of me" and he cried more intensely. I said - "Is there anything you would want to say to Jesus ?" He stood up (that caught me off guard) - and said - "Jesus you are real and you love me; I want to love you; I don't want this pornography anymore; I am sorry for what I have done; I want to follow you and live for you. " And then he sat down. I asked him why stood up. He said, Jesus want to hug me". "Did he ?" I asked. "Yes," he replied, "I felt his love". Rick became a follower of Jesus. There was no "sinner's prayer" but there an opportunity to help Rick respond to Jesus through prayer. Rick continues to struggle in other areas - but he has never turned back to pornography and he believes that Jesus is alive and he calls Him Lord.
2. There have been many occasions in which we have engaged in prayer walking. One afternoon we were directed by the Holy Spirit to pray-walk a street behind the Church. As we pray-walked this street we came across a house - one of the intercessors began to fell waves of nausea. We prayed against the darkness and asked for God's blessings on the house and its residents. The following Sunday, John & Jane came to Churcch. As they were introducing themselves to me they mentioned their address - they lived in the house that we prayed for on the prayer walk. That got their attention. John mentioned something about how much we pray at our Church so I asked him if I there was anything I could pray for. He said - "I have three job opportunities- I don't know which one to pursue".
So I prayed a very simple prayer: "Lord Jesus, close the doors that need to be closed and open the door needs to be open". Monday, two jobs dried up and he continued work at the third. Many more prayers were answered in similar ways. Eventually both John and Jane became followers of Jesus and have gone on mission trips to evangelize
This is my take on prayer evangelism. This is the paradigm by which I function. Hope it was helpful to you.
Pastor Knox Presbyterian
Welland Ont. Canada.