Smoke filled the air as the music’s bass reverberated in our ears. The lights were low but glow sticks and lines of cocaine had everyone high. It was a typical Friday night in my college apartment, until God intervened. A friend had talked to me about Jesus the week before, and I could not shake the truth he had shared.
I went down the hallway, shut my bedroom door, and picked up a previously hidden Bible. Through tears I said, “God, if you’re real, show me something.” I opened the New Living Translation my parents gave me before I went to college to the words of a prophet named Ezekiel, “Put all your rebellion behind you, and find yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O people of Israel? I don’t want you to die, says the Sovereign Lord. Turn back and live” (Ezekiel 18:31–32). As I read, God’s word shone light into my heart and began to transform my life.
The Greatest Evangelist
God loves to save sinners like me, like you, and like those around us. God is the great evangelist. He is the Father who runs to prodigal children (Luke 15:11–32). His Son left glory to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). The Spirit gives power to God’s people to be witnesses of Jesus’s saving work (Acts 1:8). God desires none to perish, but for all to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:3–5). He sought me that night in my apartment, and he used my friend’s witness to do it.
Saving sinners is God’s delight, and it should be ours as well. But too often, we are fearful, shortsighted, and unmoved by the fact that billions of people are on their way to an eternal hell. We need God’s intervention to stir zeal in our hearts for evangelism. What follows are four simple prayers that ask God to help us join him in saving the lost.
1. God, help me see lost people as you do.
Naturally, we see people according to the flesh. Nosy neighbors or gossiping co-workers can tempt us toward calloused indifference. But in Christ, we no longer see people with natural eyes (2 Corinthians 5:16). God’s Spirit enables us to see the people around us as immortal image bearers who will either live forever under God’s wrath in hell or forever in the joy of his presence (Matthew 25:46).
When was the last time you wept over someone’s salvation and labored in prayer over someone’s soul? I’m not trying to shame or manipulate you, but God’s people ought to be moved by the prospect of people heading toward eternal destruction. Jesus wept over a city filled with lost people, and Paul wept with “great sorrow and unceasing anguish in [his] heart” over the unbelief of his fellow Israelites (Romans 9:2–3). Plead with God to give you this same empathy.
Ask God to enlighten the eyes of your heart to see people from an eternal perspective. Ask him to give you the same compassion for the lost that Jesus felt when he looked upon the shepherdless crowds (Matthew 9:36). Ask him to help you see that Jesus suffered for sinners and desires for them to repent of their sin (John 3:16). These prayers renew passion to proclaim Christ to those who are perishing.
2. God, open doors for the gospel.
Because God is sovereign over all situations, circumstances, and people, we ought to ask him to arrange opportunities to proclaim the gospel. Paul implored the Colossian church, “pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ” (Colossians 4:3). Paul knew God could open doors, so he asked the church to plead with God to do so.
Our church regularly asks God to do this, and we have been amazed at how he answers. In just the past week we have seen Muslim neighbors ask to read the Bible, homeless heroine addicts desiring to hear of Christ, new unbelieving neighbors desire prayer, and many other encounters that can only be explained by the Lord’s arrangement.
As you pray for opportunities, you should also ask for attentiveness to recognize them. We often miss what God is doing around us because we are distracted by entertainment, numbed by sin, or wearied by varying concerns. But as God answers our prayer, we will begin to realize that every brief encounter is an opportunity arranged by the Lord. Every moment is packed with eternal meaning. The clerk at the checkout counter or the person next to you on the plane will no longer be just another person in your eyes, but someone the Lord has placed before you to show his love and speak about his gospel.
3. God, give me courage to proclaim Jesus.
Speaking to others about Christ can be terrifying. We fear being rejected or misunderstood, losing friendships or social standing, or even facing physical retaliation. Yet we must not retreat in fear, because God is greater than any opposition we may face.
When Paul was opposed in Corinth, the Lord Jesus encouraged him, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people” (Acts 18:9–10). As we proclaim Christ, we have the same promise of his presence (Matthew 28:18–20) and the assurance that God will draw his predestined people to himself (John 6:37–39).
Ask God to give you courage. Paul pled with the Ephesian church to pray “also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak” (Ephesians 6:19–20). This divinely inspired prayer request twice asks for boldness.
We must ask God to put our sin of cowardliness to death and give us a willing spirit that is ready to do his will. Come humbly before the Lord, and offer yourself as an answer to Jesus’s prayer for laborers to go out into his plentiful harvest (Matthew 9:37–38). Come as a living sacrifice, desiring to be used in his mission. Ask him for courage; he will supply it.
4. God, let me see conversions.
We have the honor and responsibility to proclaim the gospel, but only God can give people hearts to believe. So, pray for God to do it. Ask him to not let his word return void, but to raise the dead to life. Ask him to open the hearts of non-believers to receive the gospel. Ask him to remove the veil of unbelief that blinds them from seeing the glory of Christ (2 Corinthians 4:4). Ask him to grant them repentance and free them from Satan’s snare (2 Timothy 2:24–26). Ask him to enable you to share in the joy of heaven by seeing a sinner repent (Luke 15:7, 10).
As we pray and as we proclaim the gospel, we know that God will answer in his perfect way and in his perfect timing. We sow and water seeds of gospel truth, but trust God to make them grow (1 Corinthians 3:6–9). But our hope must never be in the immediate results of our evangelism. Our calling is to prayerfully share the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit and then leave the results up to God as that eternal day draws near when all of God’s people will be gathered in worship before his glorious throne. There, we will be amazed that God brought salvation to each of us through the courageous witness of fellow redeemed sinners. He will get all the glory, and we, endless joy.