ENCOURAGEMENT TO PRAY WITH FAITH Critics abound who disparage Christians from praying: • “God doesn’t exist so you are just talking into the air when you pray.” • “Even if there is a God you’re not going to change His mind by praying.” Instead of listening to the critics let us listen to God.
God Invites Us To Pray •God declared His Temple to be a house of prayer. “…For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.”Isaiah 56:7. •Jesus confirmed that God’s house is a house of prayer. “He said to them, ‘It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer…’” Matthew 21:13; Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46.
•Jesus gave us a model prayer that embraces the essential areas of a true believers life. “Our Father in heaven…” Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 11:1-4. •Jesus encouraged His disciples to believe God to answer their prayers. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. . .”Matthew 7:7.
On the night before His crucifixion Jesus gave His disciples these promises. . . “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” John 14:13, 14. “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in You, you will ask what you desire and it shall be done for you.” John 15:7.
These are tremendous promises to those who understand them and meet the requirements. It is likely that every true Christian has asked something from God and tacked on the words, “in Jesus name.” Time passed and their prayer was not answered. The prerequisites stated by Jesus are “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you. . .”. This surely means that to get our prayers answered we must be in unhindered fellowship with Jesus and pray according to His will as revealed in the teaching of His words.
May I share that I have often checked up on myself by asking this question, “What would Jesus pray if He were in my situation at this point in time?” Those times when I experienced total peace that the request I wanted to make was in harmony with the will of God were the times my prayer was most often answered.
•Jesus taught that FAITH is the essential Ingredient of answered prayer. “So Jesus answered and said to them ‘Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them ,and you will have them”. Mark 11:22-24.
SOME BIBLICAL ANSWERS TO PRAYER Abraham prayed that Sodom would not be destroyed (because his nephew, Lot and his family lived there). Sodom was destroyed but Lot was spared. (Genesis 18). Jacob wrestled in prayer with the Angel of the Lord because his brother Esau was coming after him with 400 warriors. His prayer was, “I will not let You go unless You bless me.” (Genesis 32:26).Jacob’s name, which means “supplanter”, was nullified and changed to “Israel” which means “a prince with God” and Esau spared him and his family.
God instructed Moses to pray to Him by lifting his rod. Moses lifted that rod ten times in confrontation with Pharaoh and a plague fell on Egypt.. Pharaoh agreed to let Israel leave the land. Moses lifted that rod at the Red Sea and God opened a path across on dry land. When Israel crossed Moses lifted his rod again and the Red Sea closed over the pursuing Egyptian army. Every time Moses lifted that rod in Israel’s journey a miracle took place.
Joshua needed more time to defeat the Amorites in battle. He “spoke to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel: “Sun, stand still over Gibeon; And Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.’ So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, Till the people had revenge upon their enemies.’” Joshua 10:12-13.
Hannah was unable to conceive a child. “She was in bitterness of soul and prayed to the LORD and wept in anguish.” She made a vow to the LORD that if He would give her a male child that she would give him to the LORD all the days of his life. God gave her a son whom she named Samuel who became the greatest judge in the days of Israel’s judges. 1st Samuel 1:1: 10, 11, 20.
King Hezekiah prayed that God would deliver Jerusalem from destruction by the mighty Assyrian army. God sent one angel that night who killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. I Kings 18 and 19; Isaiah 37. Space does not allow me to describe how many prayed to Jesus for healing and deliverance from demons and had their prayers answered or other miraculous answers to pray in the New Testament.
Let us learn to follow these words from James, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the LORD.” James 5-7.
BECOME A WITNESS FOR CHRIST The main reason every disciple should become a witness of Christ is because this is The Great Commission of Jesus to His disciples. The gospels record these statements from Jesus in the days following His resurrection:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15). “…Repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations…And you are witnesses of these things.” Luke 24:47, 48. “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” John 20:21.
The book of Acts records the last words of Jesus before His ascension back to Heaven: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8. A personal reason for every disciple to become a witness for Christ is that this is the means by which we receive the crown of rejoicing when all true believers are assembled in glory. The apostle Paul wrote his converts at Thessalonica, “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For you are our glory and joy.” 1st Thessalonians 2:19, 20.
GUIDELINES TO BECOME A WITNESS FOR CHRIST We Must Acquire A Compassion for Lost Souls. If we do not have a compassion for lost souls we will not become an effective witness. A disciple of Jesus should meditate on the following truths:
•Every lost person is spiritually blinded by Satan to prevent them from coming to a saving faith in Christ. (See 2nd Corinthians 4:3, 4.) •Lost souls are described as “having no hope” and being “without God” in Ephesians 2:12. •Those who depart this life without coming into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ will be separated from God forever in torment. (See Luke 16:22-26). We should meditate on these truths until a compassion for lost souls arises within us.
We Must Seek Training To Effectively Bear Witness of Christ We can receive very good training by going with a well trained soulwinner and experience “on the job training”. We can study many of the fine books on how to be an effective witness. We can attend soulwinning and witnessing classes when they are available.
We Need to Learn to be Tactful to Make Contact “Tact” is defined as “a quick, or intuitive appreciation of what is proper; the mental ability of saying and doing the right thing at the right time so as not to unjustly offend.” (See 1st Corinthians 9:19-23).
C.S. Lovett suggested the word FORM as an acrostic in presenting the gospel: F – family interests (shows personal care for them) O – occupation (appreciation of their vocation and their knowledge of it). R – religious background (tactfully introduces the subject of spiritual matters and reveals some of the religious influences of their life). M – message (If they are believers you encourage them and perhaps invite them to visit your church. If they have not received Christ as Savior you tactfully present the gospel.
All are sinners – Romans 3:10-12, 23. God has given His Son to receive the punishment for our sins in our place. Romans 5:6-8 To be saved we must receive Jesus Christ by faith to be our Savior. John 14:6; Romans 6:23. Jesus has promised to save all who ask Him in sincere faith to save them. Romans 10:9-13. Offer to lead them in a prayer to ask Jesus to forgive them of their sins, save them, and make them a child of God.
Follow up by encouraging them • to make a public confession of their faith in Jesus; • follow Jesus in believer’s baptism and • unite with a local Biblical church.