Making disciples. That’s the Great Commission in a nutshell. And yet while it can be summarized in two simple words, countless books have been written to describe the many facets of the Great Commission. It’s not my intent to address all of those facets in this post however. My purpose in this post is to address what I believe to be one of the Great Omissions of the Great Commission and that is compassionate, intentional, evangelistic prayer.
In Matthew 9:35-38, Jesus sees the crowds all around him, and he has compassion for them for they are like sheep without a shepherd. His compassion for them is what leads him to say to his disciples in verses 37-38: “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Commenting on this verse, David Platt says:
Notice that Jesus doesn’t say, ‘Here’s the harvest, now go!’ Instead, He says, ‘Here’s the harvest, now pray.’ Jesus will eventually get to the ‘go’ part, but first His followers must be on their knees, asking and pleading with God to send out workers. This is precisely what we should be doing in our churches as we seek to send people out regularly into this dark world to proclaim the gospel.
And yet this type of prayer is often missing in a typical church prayer meeting. I’ve heard it said that churches often pray more to keep saints out of heaven than to keep sinners out of hell. So, the question is how can you cultivate a culture of evangelistic prayer in your church? Here are some quick ideas to get started:
- Teach on the topic of prayer. Specifically, teach on the need for compassionate, intentional, evangelistic prayer. Use passages like Matthew 9:35-38 or Luke 10:2.
- Model evangelistic prayer for your church. Your church members will follow your example. If they hear you regularly praying with an evangelistic emphasis, they will be much more likely to do so as well.
- Be disciplined in your prayer meeting. Set aside a portion of your regular prayer meeting to pray specifically for the lost by name. Stay disciplined and do this before allowing anyone to share “normal prayer requests” such as health, financial, or emotional concerns.
- Conduct a commissioning service. In the words of Charles Spurgeon, every member of your church is “either a missionary or an imposter.” Indeed, God’s people are a sent people (John 20:21). With that thought in mind, consider holding a special commissioning service for all of your church members. Pray over them and send them out into your community!
- Utilize technology. Technology is your friend. Part of NAMB’s TenTwo prayer initiative is for believers to pray Luke 10:2 at 10:02 each day. Utilizing your smartphone, you can set a daily reminder to help you to remember to pray for more workers. You can also utilize social media to periodically remind church members to pray evangelistically as well.
These are just some ideas to get you started. What are some other ways to cultivate a culture of evangelistic prayer in the church?