Prayer Evangelism

 

Before talking to people about Jesus, we need to talk to Jesus about people.

On this page we are looking at why and how to do prayerprayer evangelism is like tilling the soil. evangelism. When Jesus said “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matt 9 :36-38) he was looking at a crowd of many people who were coming to him hungry for an encounter with God. In terms of evangelism there ARE places in the world where the harvest does seem to be plentiful and many are open to hearing and receiving the gospel. But in other places this seems to be less the case. In these places it seems to be that a very large proportion of the population are neither open to, nor interested in hearing or receiving the good news of Jesus. “For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes and hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.” (Matt 13 : 15) In other words, the ground is hard or full of thorns – the seeds scattered on the ground are not falling on good soil (Matt 13:1-8Matt 13:1-8
English: Good News Bible (UK) - GNB-UK

The Parable of the Sower 13 1 That same day Jesus left the house and went to the lakeside, where he sat down to teach. 2 The crowd that gathered round him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it, while the crowd stood on the shore. : 3 He used parables to tell them many things. “Once there was a man who went out to sow corn. 4 As he scattered the seed in the field, some of it fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some of it fell on rocky ground, where there was little soil. The seeds soon sprouted, because the soil wasn't deep. 6 But when the sun came up, it burnt the young plants; and because the roots had not grown deep enough, the plants soon dried up. 7 Some of the seed fell among thorn bushes, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 But some seeds fell in good soil, and the plants produced corn; some produced a hundred grains, others sixty, and others thirty.”

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). The church is working in fields where there are few crops to be harvested and so attempts to evangelise produce small results.

Evangelism, of course, is first and foremost God’s work. Jesus said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.” (John 6 : 65) So this is why, for us, prayer is the primary answer to the problem. Paul writes, “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2 :1-4) So it is our prayers which will prepare the ‘soil’ in people’s hearts so that the ‘seed’ sown by the Holy Spirit has a chance to germinate and grow. On this website page I aim to present some ideas for using prayer to ’till the soil’ in the lives of people we know, as well as in the region where we live. If you have other ideas for similar prayer exercises that I can add to this page then please do get in contact and let me know. Thanks!

 

I am dividing these prayer exercises into three categories with agricultural titles:

Tilling the Garden

These exercises are for tilling the ground in the lives of those we know well, our friends or family, or the people we work or study with.

  • One way is to simply list people that you want to remember to God each day. It doesn’t have to take long, and is particularly good if you work with a group of people. You could do this exercise on your way to work, but as you list each name, take a second or two to picture them in your imagination.
  • Regularly light a candle for someone. Candles are often associated with specific traditions of the Christian church, but there is no reason at all why this should be the case. If a candle helps you to focus on God in prayer then let it do so!
  • On occasions, pick someone that you can spend more time talking to God about. This kind of prayer is more like the sort of conversation you might have with a friend and can be as in depth as you want it to be. Allow God to guide your heart and thoughts as there may be something that he wants to show you about that person, or something that he wants you to do for them.
  • A small but regular fast! I’m not talking about starving yourself until someone is saved! Fasting is a very powerful form of prayer and little but often is a good way to go. So if you are able, why not skip one meal each week, for example, and use the time to pray for a small group of people who are on your heart. Remember to keep your fasting on a ‘need to know’ basis. There may be people who should know you’re fasting, but otherwise it should only be God who knows.
  • Use your imagination when praying for someone. Here are some examples:
    1. If someone is unwell, you might imagine them at the pool of Siloam (John 9:1-12John 9:1-12
      English: Good News Bible (UK) - GNB-UK

      Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind 9 1 As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been born blind. 2 His disciples asked him, “Teacher, whose sin caused him to be born blind? Was it his own or his parents' sin?” 3 Jesus answered, “His blindness has nothing to do with his sins or his parents' sins. He is blind so that God's power might be seen at work in him. 4 As long as it is day, we must keep on doing the work of him who sent me; night is coming when no one can work. 5 While I am in the world, I am the light for the world.” : ; 6 After he said this, Jesus spat on the ground and made some mud with the spittle; he rubbed the mud on the man's eyes 7 and said, “Go and wash your face in the Pool of Siloam.” So the man went, washed his face, and came back seeing. 8 His neighbours, then, and the people who had seen him begging before this, asked, “Isn't this the man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some said, “He is the one,” but others said, “No he isn't; he just looks like him.” So the man himself said, “I am the man.” 10 “How is it that you can now see?” they asked him. 11 He answered, “The man called Jesus made some mud, rubbed it on my eyes, and told me to go to Siloam and wash my face. So I went, and as soon as I washed, I could see.” 12 “Where is he?” they asked. “I don't know,” he answered.

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      ) and help them into the waters.
    2. Or if someone is afraid to come to Jesus you might imagine them as paralysed (by fear) and help to carry them to him as in the story of Mark 2: 1-12Mark 2: 1-12
      English: Good News Bible (UK) - GNB-UK

      Jesus Heals a Paralysed Man 2 1 A few days later Jesus went back to Capernaum, and the news spread that he was at home. 2 So many people came together that there was no room left, not even out in front of the door. Jesus was preaching the message to them 3 when four men arrived, carrying a paralysed man to Jesus. 4 Because of the crowd, however, they could not get the man to him. So they made a hole in the roof right above the place where Jesus was. When they had made an opening, they let the man down, lying on his mat. 5 Seeing how much faith they had, Jesus said to the paralysed man, “My son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 Some teachers of the Law who were sitting there thought to themselves, 7 “How does he dare to talk like this? This is blasphemy! God is the only one who can forgive sins!” 8 At once Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he said to them, “Why do you think such things? 9 Is it easier to say to this paralysed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven’, or to say, ‘Get up, pick up your mat, and walk’? 10 I will prove to you, then, that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralysed man, 11 “I tell you, get up, pick up your mat, and go home!” 12 While they all watched, the man got up, picked up his mat, and hurried away. They were all completely amazed and praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

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      .
    3. Or you might simply imagine yourself in a conversation with Jesus, and then imagine your friend walk into the room to join you. After a while you get up and leave the room with your friend talking to Jesus.
  • In Luke 10 : 5  Jesus said  “When you enter a house, first say ‘Peace to this house.'” These words are a prayer for the God of peace to be present to the people in the house. You do not need to say exactly the same words, but praying a brief prayer when entering someone’s house is a good habit to get into. Also, if you travel to another town, city or country, take a moment to pray for the people of that place.
  • Pray for someone in the spaces of your day. You might pick a different person each day, and then, as spaces in your daily activity happen, remember that particular person to God in prayer.

Tilling the Allotment

These exercises are for tilling the soil at a local town or parish level.

  • One way to do this sort of prayer exercise is through prayer walking. There are three ways of prayer walking that I know about:
    1. The first way can be done on your own or with a group of others. It involves simply walking whilst silently praying a blessing on the people or houses or streets or businesses that you pass by.
    2. The second way is to walk a preplanned route with regular stops for the group to gather together and pray for the area they are in at that point.
    3. The third way is to walk in twos praying out loud for the things you see happening around you. This can be quite fun as it looks to everyone else like you are just two people in conversation.
  • Another way, if you’re a musician,  is to go into your town centre and play worship music as if you were busking (though do not collect money) and play your prayer of blessing on the town.
  • Start your own Local House of Prayer. These are small groups of Christians who meet in someone’s house to pray for the people in their street. This movement is currently being pioneered in Wales and comes out of the Ffald-y-Brenin Christian retreat house.

Tilling the Field

These exercises are for tilling the soil on an international, national, region or city level.

  • There are a number of prayer events for national and global concerns that you could join in with, either on your own or as a group at your church. See the Prayer Events page on my website for some suggestions.
  • Your church could get together with other churches in your city to create a venue for a House of Prayer like the ones on my Houses of Prayer page.
  • Go the the website for Operation World to find out more information about how to pray for the nations and get involved in this great work.
  • In Joshua 6:1-27Joshua 6:1-27
    English: Good News Bible (UK) - GNB-UK

    The Fall of Jericho 6 1 The gates of Jericho were kept shut and guarded to keep the Israelites out. No one could enter or leave the city. 2 The Lord said to Joshua, “I am putting into your hands Jericho, with its king and all its brave soldiers. 3 You and your soldiers are to march round the city once a day for six days. 4 Seven priests, each carrying a trumpet, are to go in front of the Covenant Box. On the seventh day you and your soldiers are to march round the city seven times while the priests blow the trumpets. 5 Then they are to sound one long note. As soon as you hear it, all the people are to give a loud shout, and the city walls will collapse. Then the whole army will go straight into the city.” 6 Joshua called the priests and said to them, “Take the Covenant Box, and seven of you go in front of it, carrying trumpets.” 7 Then he ordered the people to start marching round the city, with an advance guard going on ahead of the Lord's Covenant Box. 8-9 So, just as Joshua had ordered, an advance guard started out ahead of the priests who were blowing trumpets; behind these came the priests who were carrying the Covenant Box, followed by a rearguard. All this time the trumpets were sounding. 10 But Joshua had ordered the people not to shout, not to say a word until he gave the order. 11 So he told this group of men to take the Lord's Covenant Box round the city once. Then they came back to camp and spent the night there. 12-13 Joshua got up early the next morning, and for the second time the priests and soldiers marched round the city in the same order as the day before: first, the advance guard; next, the seven priests blowing the seven trumpets; then, the priests carrying the Lord's Covenant Box; and finally, the rearguard. All this time the trumpets were sounding. 14 On this second day they again marched round the city once and then returned to camp. They did this for six days. 15 On the seventh day they got up at daybreak and marched seven times round the city in the same way — this was the only day that they marched round it seven times. 16 The seventh time round, when the priests were about to sound the trumpets, Joshua ordered the people to shout, and he said, “The Lord has given you the city! 17 The city and everything in it must be totally destroyed as an offering to the Lord. Only the prostitute Rahab and her household will be spared, because she hid our spies. 18 But you are not to take anything that is to be destroyed; if you do, you will bring trouble and destruction on the Israelite camp. 19 Everything made of silver, gold, bronze, or iron is set apart for the Lord. It is to be put in the Lord's treasury.” 20 So the priests blew the trumpets. As soon as the people heard it, they gave a loud shout, and the walls collapsed. Then all the army went straight up the hill into the city and captured it. : 21 With their swords they killed everyone in the city, men and women, young and old. They also killed the cattle, sheep, and donkeys. 22 Joshua then told the two men who had served as spies, “Go into the prostitute's house and bring her and her family out, as you promised her.” 23 So they went and brought Rahab out, along with her father and mother, her brothers, and the rest of her family. They took them all, family and slaves, to safety near the Israelite camp. 24 Then they set fire to the city and burnt it to the ground, along with everything in it, except the things made of gold, silver, bronze, and iron, which they took and put in the Lord's treasury. 25 But Joshua spared the lives of the prostitute Rahab and all her relatives, because she had hidden the two spies that he had sent to Jericho. : 26 At that time Joshua issued a solemn warning: “Anyone who tries to rebuild the city of Jericho will be under the Lord's curse. : Whoever lays the foundation will lose his eldest son; Whoever builds the gates will lose his youngest.” 27 So the Lord was with Joshua, and his fame spread through the whole country.

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    the Israelites are faced with the huge problem of capturing and destroying the city of Jericho. God did not tell the Israelites to make ladders to scale the walls, he ordered them to march around the city thirteen times over seven days praying to God and worshipping him. After they had done this God brought down the walls of Jericho and the city was taken. What Jericho demonstrated was that no walls can ultimately stand against the power of God when Christians pray. So, whether the ‘walls’ you are concerned with are the walls of secularism, or any other kind of ‘ism’, or anything else which stands in the way of God’s kingdom growing, we can pray against those walls in our imagination and they can be brought down.

In our desire to see people saved (especially those we know and love) it can be hard to keep on praying when there is no evidence that our prayers are making any difference. I want to assure you that prayer always does make a positive difference, though it often takes time and may not be the difference you were expecting.

 

What then should I pray for when I lift people and places up to God?

There are three attitudes people need to have if they are going to find God. The first is desire. If a person has no desire for God then they will not look and they will not find. We need to pray that those who are on our hearts and do not yet know God will gain that desire to do so. The second is faith. Jesus said we only need a faith the size of a mustard seed for prayers to be answered, and mustard seeds are very small. Sometimes it is enough for it to be the faith of the pray-er, rather than the one who is being prayed for, in order for the prayer to be answered. But whoever has the faith, some faith is definitely needed and should also be prayed for. The third is humility. No one will do business with God without approaching him in humility. As pray-ers, we need to approach God in humility, but we also need to pray that those on our hearts will also acquire a sense of humility towards God. If you would like to learn more about prayer take a look at my free to download prayer course Seekers through Prayer, or read a good book on the subject like those recommended on my Reviews page.