Heaven-Bent: A Prayer for Evangelism at the House of Bread
I made a covenant with the Lord that, instead of joining the 20 people who went to Pastor Glenn’s house to plan a strategy of outreach on June 2, I would devote myself for at least one hour that evening to pray for them, and for them only. So at 7:20 I went into my study in the basement, knelt at my couch with my Bible open before me, and for one hour held this precious group of people up to God. It was a very moving experience for me. My heart’s desire became increasingly fervent that my own life would be radiant with the light of Christ (Matthew 5:16), and that the aroma of God would cling to me every day as I leave the garden of prayer (2 Corinthians 2:14, 15).
The way to spend an hour in prayer is to put the Bible before you and let its promises and principles and prayers and commands guide you. For example, I turned to Galatians 5:19-22 and I begged God that he would right now abolish the works of the flesh in every one of those 20 people, and fill them with his Spirit. Then one by one I went through the fruits of the Spirit and prayed them into those people. I imagined God actively removing fears and jealousies and irritations and putting in their place love, joy, peace, patience, and a great zeal to love people into the Kingdom.
It was a good beginning. God has begun what is going to be a lifeline in our church: an eager corps of people in loving pursuit of God’s sheep. They are going to meet for training and planning again on Monday, June 15, at 7:00 p.m. at the church. I am praying that God will stir up a desire in many more of you to be a part of this group to contact our visitors and reach out (like Jesus to the leper) to the needs around us.
What I found in prayer was that the hindrances to forthright witnessing rise mainly from taking our eyes off God. With him there is great encouragement. For example, he promises, “You will receive power when the Spirit has come upon you and you shall be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8). But you say, “I don’t feel very powerful even after I have prayed.” Don’t fret. All God’s saints have found that God gives us help in the hour of trial, not before. This is God’s very wise way, because it keeps us trembling and trusting, so that when the power and blessing come we will give God all the glory.
Listen to this encouraging promise from Jesus: “Do not be anxious about what you are to answer or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say” (Luke 12:11, 12). In that very hour! Not before. How often I have ridden the hospital elevator on the way to a visit and wondered: What will I say? But at the bedside (not before!) the words were given.
I am hungry for our church to be winning people out of darkness into light (1 Peter 2:9). Join me in prayer for this. And if God puts it in your heart, join Pastor Glenn and the new outreach group Monday, June 15, at 7:00 p.m. God has unbelievable spiritual blessings to pour on a church that is heaven-bent on sharing them with others!
From the bakery,
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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By John Piper. ©2014 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org