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Prayer is basic to the soul-winner. He who would speak much to man for God must speak much to God for man. The Apostle said, "We will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the Word" (Acts 6:4). Prayer was first, ministry next. Paul asked the Thessalonians to "pray for us, that the Word of the Lord may have free course and be glorified" (2 Thess. 3:1). The rule for the soul-winner is "Go as you pray and pray as you go." Prayer should precede, accompany and follow every phase of soul-winning.
"Pray without ceasing" (1 Thess. 5:17) should be our motto. We have the supreme Example of the Lord Jesus as One who prayed. He prayed in the night (Mark 1:35), before His public ministry (Luke 3:21,22), before an evangelistic tour (Mark 1:35,38), before choosing His twelve disciples (Luke 6:12,13), and when He was busy (Luke 5:15,16). What then do we need to pray for as we embark upon the task of soul-winning? J. O. Sanders has pinpointed the prayer needs of the personal worker. Prayer is a demanding exercise but a very rewarding one as we see the hand of God at work in the salvation of souls.
Prayer For Ourselves
Guidance. We must be guided as to whom we are to speak. We cannot speak to all, and God does not expect us to do so. God knows to whom He wants us to speak and we must ask Him to reveal His will to us. As this habit is cultivated we will find that He will guide us when to speak and when to keep silent.
For Courage. It will never be easy to speak about Jesus Christ in the hostile world which rejected Him. There is always the reproach of the Cross to be born. But as we pray He gives us courage to do what we never would otherwise have done. The early church prayed, "Grant unto Thy servants that with all boldness they may speak Thy Word..." (Acts 4:29-31). Paul cried, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" (Phil. 4:13).
For a Message. We need to be sure what we must say. If God is directing you to someone then He will give you a message for that person. He knows what the person needs and it is for you to trust Him to give you His message. Often even as a person is speaking and revealing a problem, God gives you the answer to that problem when you had no idea what you were to say next. We must trust Him to give us the words to speak. Jesus said of the Holy Spirit, "He shall bring all things to your remembrance whatsoever I have said unto you" (John 14:26). Often it is things we have learned from the Lord in quiet times with Him that come to our minds as we speak to souls.
Prayer For Others
For the Elimination of Barriers. Often barriers of hostility, prejudice and indifference hinder the Word of God having effect in the one whom you are seeking to win. Persistent believing prayer has often broken down the most determined opposition.
For the Preparation of the Heart. "The preparations of the heart in man...is from the Lord" (Prov. 16:1). The seed which brought forth a hundred-fold fell into good ground--prepared ground. It is the work of the Spirit to convict the world of sin (John 16:8). He does this in answer to prayer. God has so constituted the communication of the Gospel that prayer must be offered, our dependence upon Him recognized and confessed, and our trust placed in Him alone to convert the soul from sin.
For the Salvation of the Soul. The mighty battle of intercession is joined and we are soon locked in spiritual warfare. The prayer warrior must learn to plead the merits of the blood of Jesus for the soul bound by Satan's might.
For the Continuation of the Spirit's Ministry. Pray that the Lord will continue to work after you have left the seeking soul. There may be no outward response from the prospect, in fact there may be open defiance. Whether the conversation seemed successful or not, the person should be definitely committed to God in prayer. The Holy Ghost is the faithful "after-preacher"!
As we pray, God teaches us to pray. No books on the subject, no sermons, no advice can substitute for the Spirit as a teacher in prayer. It is in prayer that the soul meets God and here the Spirit cries out within him for souls to be won. At times it is through a period of unbelief that we must pray and eventually get to faith. Sometimes God gives us a promise upon which we may lay hold in our praying through to victory.
Our prayers should be Spirit-taught and definite (Rom. 8:26); they should be persevering (Luke 11:9,10; 18:1); and they should be believing (Heb. 11:6, James 1:6,7).
Let us pray on using this great weapon which God has given to us! By spending time in prayer we do not decrease our activity but we increase our productivity and accomplish vastly more. "As Zion travailed, she brought forth children" (Isa. 66:8). God will bless you as you pray.
From Life Indeed.