The church was birthed in a ten day prayer meeting (Acts 1:14, 2:1). They coped with crisis and persecution together on their knees (4:24-31). As the church grew, the apostles refused to become embroiled in administrative problems because of their resolute desire to model prayer in their leadership teams (6:4). Through united prayer, they trusted God for miraculous, divine intervention in times of extreme trouble (Acts 12:5-12). They received ministry direction through intense seasons of worshipful prayer (Acts 13:1-2). In reality early Christians learned to pray together. What a contrast to our individualized culture.
Jim Maxim wrote, “Prayer is denouncing our own ability or natural capabilities and engaging divine abilities that KNOW NO LIMITS.”
Jesus said, ““I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
Abiding in Jesus leads us to true intercession, the act of giving ourselves in prayer for the needs of others as well as ourselves.
R.A. Torrey wrote simply but profoundly, “Much prayer, much power. Little prayer, little power.”
You can never had enough of God, and yet you can have as much of Him as you want.
Have you ever noticed that the one who starts a conversation tends to guide the conversation? So, in prayer, how much better is it to let God start the conversation from His Word so that He can guide the conversation based on His living, powerful, and unchanging truth.
Prayer is not a casual recitation of our pains and problems. It is the overflow of a heart focused on the conscious presence of Christ, clinging to Him and His word as the source and scope of our lives.
“The battle of prayer is against two things: wandering thoughts and lack of intimacy with God’s character as revealed in His word. Neither can be cured at once, but they can be cured by discipline.” -Oswald Chambers
The world will not dictate my peace, for my peace comes from God and God alone! God promised that if we keep our minds on Him, He will keep us in perfect peace. Isaiah 26:3, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” The promise is not for the person who thinks about God once in awhile, but the one who constantly has God in his thoughts.
Our discipline in prayer keeps the devil from stealing our peace. Prayer is the method, the activity, the manner in which we keep on receiving the peace of almighty God.
A Christian living in God’s peace is the most dangerous supernatural force alive on the earth!
In order to share our faith effectively we need to know/do 3 things. Here are the 3 things that need to happen from our viewpoint. Of course, the Holy Spirit is the ultimate “worker” but we need to do our part of spreading the seed. This may need to take place over several meetings, days, months, years, as necessary. For our purposes let’s say we have a friend named “Nathan.”
- Listen to Nathan’s story. Get to know who Nathan is and his understanding of life and faith. Do not go past this step until this has been accomplished!
- Share your story. That is, help Nathan understand who you are and your understanding of life and faith. How has God changed your life? What significant things have happened for you to realize your need for Jesus Christ?
- Tell God’s story. This can happen concurrently with sharing your story but I think it’s best to be transparent first about yourself before going into “how much God loves Nathan.” Best to start with how you know God loves you, then move it to Nathan.
Of course, at some point you may have to explain how they can accept that gift of God’s grace in their life and lead them in that.
Availability means more than being where the action is. Being available is also a state of mind. Christians rub shoulders with non-Christians in their work world all the time but keep their faith a secret. They are mentally isolated. Perhaps you’ve heard it said, “I witness by my actions.” That is crucial, but to never speak about our hope in Christ makes people think that it’s we who are great, not Jesus. Being available involves a mental decision to be open about our faith as opportunities arise. Start by asking yourself, “Do I have a friendship with one person who does not know Christ for whom I can pray?”
Being equipped means using our minds. It means understanding the secular mindset. Study friends. Our ignorance of the secular world around us weakens our credibility to non-Christians. Being equipped means learning by doing. Being equipped involves prayer. Study the Gospels and apologetics. Become a student of our culture too. Learn by doing. Finally, ask God to work in the hearts of those around you.
Availability is moving our feet. Equipping is training our minds. Motivation is changing our hearts. Telling someone to “be motivated” is like telling someone to “be happy.” It usually just makes things worse. Right motivation for evangelism springs from love, truth, and hope–and those are things we can work at building into our lives. When we truly come to know and grasp the love of God, we want to share our faith.
Unlike the Holy Spirit’s job description, ours is relatively simple. First we follow Christ as Lord (see part I); then we proclaim the truth of Christ. It’s our hope that hearers will turn to God in faith, but their response is not our responsibility.
And we certainly don’t need techniques to manipulate others with crafty questions. But what can we do?
- Available– God wants us available to people, not shouting instructions at them. He wants us to get into others’ lives.
- Equipped– God wants us equipped to share the good news. You don’t need to be a trained professional in the business of sharing your faith. But if you share what you know about your relationship with Christ, when the opportunity comes, God will use you. Seminary degree not required.
- Motivated– God wants us motivated in the right way: not by guilt trips or with emotional frenzy, but by love.
Our job description for real-life evangelism is to be equipped, available and motivated. So evaluate yourself. Are you motivated (I have a heartfelt desire to share the good news of Christ)? Are you available (I have social contacts with non-Christians)? Are you equipped (I can effectively explain the message and/or tell my story of faith)? If you dare to do this, give yourself a thumbs up or down on each of these. And then post your results on the blog or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will gladly diagnose, give you a prognosis, and prescribe treatments for you. Think I’m joking? Try me!
I firmly believe that God uses people, with all their faults, to reveal the good news.
Having said that, the most effective action in evangelism is having a deep and vibrant faith. So rather than looking for gimmicks or angles we need to start with “How is Jesus Lord of my life?” Our first step of evangelism is to yield to Christ’s lordship.
Here are 4 steps to take as you follow Jesus:
- Practice spiritual disciplines. You need to be having a Daily Quiet Time of prayer and Bible reading. I journal too, which is why I can even manage this blog. Fasting and confession are important to learn in time too. (Though I admit I have to keep working on fasting!).
- Give yourself to a community of believers. I don’t mean just join a church. But fully engage and join a small group within it. Our greatest witness to the world is Christian community.
- Share your faith. As Paul Little says, “Evangelism is one of the keys to spiritual health.”
- Dare to take a risk. Never stop risking for God. Jesus is risky. When we take him as Lord, he calls us to lay down our lives. So risk your time, your place, your pride, your money. Risk sharing the good news with others.
What is the greatest barrier for you to share your faith more? How could I help you?
E.M. Bounds wrote, “Prayer is our most formidable weapon but the one in which we are the least skilled, the most adverse to use.”
Have you ever considered prayer as a weapon? It seems from 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 that Paul is encouraging us to use it as a weapon to pull down strongholds in our lives and in the lives of those we love.
What kind of stronghold is Paul talking about? Any thought, action, or plan that rises up against the knowledge of God.
In other words, if we or someone we love believes the negative lies of the enemy instead of the Word of God–if we are enslaved by Satan’s lies that say we are not good enough, we don’t belong to God, we will fail at everything we attempt in life, we need drugs or alcohol to make it through a day–we must pull down these strongholds with the spiritual weapons that God has provided.