I was challenged by Dr. Annang`s sermon (see next page) on Paul`s prayer life. I knew that Paul always prayed for the churches that he ministered to, even those he hadn`t met, but what struck me particularly was the effort he put into it. I try to go regularly through everybody at church, lifting each one up to the Lord in prayer, asking that He might be with you in whatever situation your facing. But I have to ask myself, ‘Do I struggle in prayer? Do I wrestle in prayer?’ Prayer doesn`t come easily to anyone, especially pastors who are expected to pray about every aspect of church. I am no different. If I go into the inner room, as Jesus said, I struggle to keep awake. If I`m praying about some particular situation, my mind tends to wander to all sorts of irrelevancies, I have a wrestle to keep my focus on it. I suppose the question we must ask ourselves is, ’Do I put as much effort into prayer as I do into everything else?’ Spurgeon said, “He who prays without fervency does not pray at all.” We know what a great evangelist and church planter Paul was. He put as much effort into prayer as he did evangelism, We should be no different.
It depends on what we see as our role in evangelism. We are just the messengers who have been given ‘the ministry of reconciliation’, not the originators of the message. We cannot reconcile anyone to God, only God himself can do that. He has done it, through Christ! As the following story shows.
A highwayman once stopped John Wesley and demanded his money or his life. Wesley, after giving him the money, said, “Let me speak one word to you; the time may come when you will regret the course of life in which you are now engaged. Remember this, ‘The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin.'” No more was said, and they parted. Many years after, as Wesley was going out of a church in which he had been preaching, a stranger introduced himself, and asked Wesley if he remembered being waylaid at such a time. He said he recollected it. “I was that man,” said the stranger, “and that single verse you quoted on that occasion was the means of a total change in my life and habits. I have long since been in the practice of attending the house of God and of giving attention to His Word, and trust that I am a Christian.”
I`m sure that Wesley watered that witnessing opportunity with much prayer over the intervening years. Who knows when God will act. We should be the same. Pray for witnessing opportunities, witness, then pray that their hearts may be softened to the message.
Every blessing be yours in Christ Jesus.
John & Hilary