Begin With Prayer

The Great Commission

From Kay Meyer's column in the St. Louis Metro Voice newspaper from 1994 to 2013.

A Christian man recognized the importance of prayer in bringing people to Jesus as their Savior and Lord. He selected three friends, who were not Christians, and began praying for their salvation.

The first man came to faith in Christ after three years. The second friend came to faith after ten years. The Christian continued praying for the third friend. When the Christian was fifty-eight years old he died. He had prayed for his friend for thirty-five years. Three years after the man joined his Savior in Heaven, the man he had been praying for placed his faith in the Lord. God answers prayer. He desires that we pray for the unsaved.

Do you know family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, or acquaintances who don’t know Christ as their Savior and Lord? Have you prayed for any of them this week?

Although we know we should pray for spiritual issues, our busy lives, complicated by Satan’s schemes (Eph. 6:11), often keep us from prayer. Do you desire to be used by God to help people hear the Gospel message of grace through faith in Christ Jesus? Then begin with prayer.

Pray for workers within God’s Kingdom. Jesus said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest” (Matt 9:37-38).

Be specific in your prayer request. Ask God to open hearts to hear the Gospel. Listen to needs and concerns. Be willing to lend a helping hand and/or witness as the Lord leads.

Be persistent in prayer. Be patient. Learn to wait upon the Lord to open doors. Remember God’s timing is not always our timing. Don’t move ahead of the Holy Spirit. At times, well-meaning Christians decide they must witness. Rather than beginning with prayer and waiting upon the Lord to open doors of opportunity, they bulldoze their way into individual’s lives. They forget the Holy Spirit needs to prepare hearts.

The Bible talks about three different forms for prayer. Independent or private prayer (Matt 6:6,7), small group prayer (Matt 18:20), and corporate or large group prayer (Acts 12:5). Although as Christians we often use independent prayer and corporate prayer, we don’t always use small group prayer. A small group may be your family gathered around the dinner table. Or, it might be an intimate group of believers gathered together in a home, at a restaurant, or within the church. As you pray for those who don’t know Christ, try to include all three types of prayer.

Prayer can also be used to open doors to share the Gospel message. Often when listening to individuals’ family or work problems, we say, “I’ll pray for you.” Consider saying instead, “May I pray with you?” Then find an empty office or quiet corner and pray with them.

Include the Gospel in your prayer. Thank and praise God the Father for sending His only begotten Son into the world, for the sacrifice Christ made for our sins, for the joy and forgiveness that is ours through faith in Christ, and for the free gift of eternal life. We can use prayers to communicate the Gospel message, in a non-threatening way. The following story will illustrate how this can happen.

My neighbor was depressed. She came to visit. I listened to her problems, then offered to pray with her. At least once a week she returned for another visit. She always asked me to pray with her. I asked God to heal her and bless her family. As I prayed, I included the Gospel message.

Several weeks later, right after we had prayed, she stated, “I’ve always thought that if I was a good person God would accept me and grant me eternal life. But, you said it is only through Christ’s righteousness we obtain eternal life in Heaven. You said Jesus took my sins upon himself on the cross. How can Jesus take my sins? How can I take His Righteousness? I don’t understand, would you explain it to me?”

She had asked a question. Questions are often open doors from the Lord. And God granted me the words to answer her questions, as He had promised in Matt 10:19.

Sometimes prayer is the only way we can reach unchurched or fallen away Christians. A Christian grandmother shared recently, “My son was raised in a Christian home, but now he never attends church. He seems angry at God and has no interest in God’s Word. Worst of all, he doesn’t allow our two grandchildren to attend Sunday school or church. It grieves Bill and I so! We try to witness to him, but when we talk to him about his relationship with the Lord, he just gets angry. What should we do?

We prayed together for her son. I encouraged this couple to not only ask, but to begin seeking and knocking on God’s door for their son and grandchildren (Matt. 7:7). Although they had been praying privately about this situation, they had not shared their concern with other Christians. They are now requesting specific prayers for Bill and his two children. Would you pray that God will bring someone into Bill’s life that will witness to him? And pray that he will allow his children to learn about Jesus.

Another story! This one involves a couple who are Jehovah’s Witnesses. I witnessed to them off and on over a period of six years. Because of my activity in cult evangelism, especially to Jehovah’s Witnesses, this couple will literally no longer speak to me. I can no longer witness to them. But, I can pray. And I do!

God desires all to be saved. The Bible states, “First of all then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, in order that we may lead a tranquil and quit life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Jesus Christ, who gave himself as ransom for all.” (1 Tim. 2:1-6) Because I know it is God’s will for all to come to the knowledge of the Son, I continued to pray for this couple. I have committed them into God’s hands.

As I close this article, I’d like to invite you to pray for those you know. As you’ve read this article, the Lord has probably brought to your mind several individuals you know who don’t know the Lord. Would you select at least one to pray for now?

Lord, _____________ doesn’t know you as his/her Savior and Lord. Open a door for him/her to hear and comprehend the saving Gospel message of God’s love through Jesus Christ. Then guide him/her, by your Spirit, to place his/her trust in you. If it is your will, use me to witness to ___________. In Jesus name. Amen.

by Kay L. Meyer