A Missing Ingredient for Effective Evangelism: Proactive Prayer
One year for Thanksgiving my grandma forgot to add chicken broth to her delicious stuffing. The result was a dish that was dry, hard, and flavorless. One ingredient can make all the difference.
The same holds true in evangelism. There is one key ingredient when sharing our faith that many neglect. It is what I refer to as “proactive prayer” and it can make a huge difference in the way we view evangelism and the way we experience co-laboring with God in His harvest.
Proactive prayer is different than what we usually think of when we think of prayer. We typically practice “reactive prayer” which is praying as a reaction to something that has happened, such as a job loss, illness, or other event.
In contrast, proactive prayer anticipates future situations and prepares us for them. Like a soldier who communicates with his commanding officer before and during a mission, so we are to communicate with our Commanding Officer as we pursue the Great Commission.
Here are three ways proactive prayer can bolster your evangelism.
Proactive Prayer Expresses Our Surrender to God
In Matthew 6:10, Jesus taught His disciples to pray to the Lord, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” In heaven, the angels carry out God’s will immediately and completely. This is because they are totally surrendered to Him.
If God’s will on earth is to be done as it is in heaven, we need to be surrendered to Him as His servants. God is not so much interested in your ability as He is in your availability. He has all the ability needed but is looking for surrendered disciples to use who are willing to carry out His Great Commission.
This is not a onetime surrender, but a daily surrender as commanded by Jesus in Luke 9:23, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
I find it best to surrender in prayer first thing in the morning before the cares of the world enter my mind. A simple way to do that is to personalize that section of the Lord’s prayer, “Lord, may your kingdom come, and your will be done in my life and through my life as it is in heaven.” This or a similar proactive prayer sets the tone for the rest of the day and helps to keep evangelism at the top of our priority list.
It also puts us into the right mindset for the second aspect of proactive prayer.
Proactive Prayer Demonstrates Our Dependence on God
Jesus said in John 15:5 that “(He is) the vine and we are the branches.” This means that we are completely dependent on Him to bear fruit through us, including leading someone to Christ. Only the Holy Spirit can convict someone of sin, open their eyes to the truth, and penetrate their hearts with the gospel as we share it.
What does this have to do with proactive prayer? Jesus said in Matthew 7:7: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” He is saying that when it comes to what we need, including what we need for evangelism, there is a correlation between asking and receiving.
Knowing this, we should continually ask the Lord in prayer for everything we need in evangelism, including boldness and opportunities to share the gospel. We ask God for food, for health, for clothing, and other needs. If we ask Him for things that we need for our lives, why not ask Him for things we need for His mission?
Proactive Prayer Seeks Direction from God
One of the needs we have in evangelism is direction from the Lord regarding opportunities to share the gospel. This involves asking Him for direction through prayer. I find this works best at the beginning of the day when I review my calendar. For the appointments I have, I ask, “Lord, do you have any kingdom business for me to conduct with this person today?” Then I pause, allowing God to bring to my mind anything I need to cover with that person over and above what was planned.
I also pray for what I call “divine appointments” that are not on my calendar, but on the Lord’s. Sometimes those unexpected encounters are the most fruitful ones for evangelism. I prepare for the unplanned by praying, “Lord, help me to see people through your eyes today, not as interruptions but as opportunities.”
Engaging in proactive prayer is a vital ingredient for our evangelism efforts. It not only increases our effectiveness in telling others about the Lord, but it also increases our joy and intimacy with the Lord as we do so, for our good and His glory!
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