How many of us honestly believe someone praying had something to do with your coming into the kingdom of God? Most of us believe prayer had something to do with our coming to Jesus. Why is that? What is it that prayer does that seems nothing else can do to bring people far from God and make them devoted followers of Jesus Christ? We want to talk about that today.

The Power of Praying Evangelism

Power of Praying Evangelism

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The Power of Praying Evangelism

Scriptures: John 6:44, Acts 10:1-4, Psalms 141:2, Acts 10:5-6, Acts
10:24-28, Galatians 3:28, Acts 10:34-48, 1 Timothy 2:2-4

How many of us honestly believe someone praying had something to do with your coming into the kingdom of God? Most of us believe prayer had something to do with our coming to Jesus. Why is that? What is it that prayer does that seems nothing else can do to bring people far from God and make them devoted followers of Jesus Christ? We want to talk about that today. I want us to see today that our praying for people far from God not only begins and continues a chain reaction affect that brings them into the kingdom. It also helps keep us aware and sensitive concerning unchurched people.

Let’s read together our scriptures for today’s lesson.

John 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

Acts 10:1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band,

Acts 10:2 A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.

1 Timothy 2:1 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone –

1 Timothy 2:2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

(These requests, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving are made for others, not ourselves. 1 Timothy 2:1 says “everyone,” and 2:2 says even “kings and all those in authority” are affected by our prayers. Is anyone immune to the prayers made in requests, intercession, and thanksgiving? No one is too hard or too mean or too far from God that prayer can’t reach out and bite.)

1 Timothy 2:3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior,

1 Timothy 2:4 who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

Prayer is a tremendous power given the believer (Act 1:8) to help God save people and bring them to the knowledge of the truth.

PRAYER HELPS KEEP ME ON TASK. Prayer not only reaches out and brings people far from God into the kingdom. Prayer also helps keep the believer thinking about people far from God. Praying for specific people (impact list) to come into the kingdom of God do several things to help me keep my heart right for people far from God. I want to mention a few of those things.

1. Keeps Me Aware

I have a tendency to get caught up in my job of daily duties, administration, and ministering to the followers of Jesus Christ. If I do not pray for specific people to come into the kingdom, I will become dull toward people far from God. I won’t think about them as often as I should. But when I consistently pray for specific people (my impact list), I am extremely aware and sensitive to those I am praying for and for other people far from God.

For example, I told you about my nephew Brian that went fishing with me during our vacation in Florida. I had the opportunity to witness to him. I have been praying for Brian nearly every day since then. Because of that, I have called him several times and just this past week I had a really good conversation with him. I am aware of him. When we talk, he opens his heart to me and I am able to bring him closer and closer to Jesus. If I wasn’t praying frequently for Brian, I would get busy and forget about him. Praying always for Brian keeps Brian on my mind. I have several people that I pray for nearly every day. Prayer keeps me aware of them.

2. Keeps Me Listening

I believe we are each given daily or nearly daily opportunities (divine appointments) to talk to people about spiritual matters. If I don’t pray, I will miss hearing an opportunity. Let’s say in a day I have five opportunities to talk to different people about spiritual things. It can be as simple as someone telling me a problem and my responding by saying, “I will be praying for you about that.” If I haven’t been praying for specific people to come into the kingdom, I will miss some, if not all, of my opportunities. I won’t be tuned in and looking for a window to say something.

I was talking to someone the other day and they were telling me about their baby’s illness. I was listening for a place to share something of the Spirit. I had a spot and said, “Bring the baby by the church sometime and let me pray for her.” Do you know what? That happened just a few days later. Not only did the person bring the baby, but brought his wife as well. That’s exciting to me. That’s a high point for me. What if I had not been listening for the opportunity? I would not have heard a place to share. Prayer keeps me listening.

3. Keeps Me Watching

Prayer reminds me that God must go before me before any evangelistic effort will transpire.

John 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

Father God must first pull on a person’s heart before a person can truly come to Jesus. I am always watching for signs that Father is drawing.

The Greek word translated “draw” is anistemi (Strong’s #0450 {an-is’-tay-mee} and means to cause to rise up, raise up, raise up from the dead.

draw – 0450 anistemi {an-is’-tay-mee}

to cause to rise up, raise up, to raise up from the dead

Biblical death is being away from God (Adam the day he ate of the tree). The picture the word gives is that God will reach out to a person and begin to lift that person from a living hell and draw them to Jesus.

I remember that experience well when God began lifting me from a living hell. It was twenty-three years ago, but I still remember it. I remember feeling something inside of me lifting and drawing me toward Jesus. I know now it was Father God himself. Later I learned that people had been praying for me to come to the Lord. My aunt had been praying for me from Florida. My wife’s grandfather had been praying for us for years. Some of my friends had been praying for me. God was pulling on my heart and lifting me toward Jesus. Before a person can come to Jesus, Father God must pull and lift and draw that heart. Prayer keeps me watching for that.

How do I recognize when God is drawing and lifting a person? It happens differently with different people.

a. With me, I suddenly had a bunch of questions and an interest in the Bible that I had never had prior. Before that, I was one heard hearted man toward God stuff. When people would talk to me about God stuff or invite me to church, it was like they were beating a concrete sidewalk with a pickax. Suddenly, nearly overnight, I softened. Suddenly I wanted to know about God. It is a good sign that God is drawing when a person begins to ask questions about the Bible or about God.

b. For some strange reason, I wanted to go to church, but not just any church. It had to be a church where I had seen someone’s life actually change. I didn’t want to be a notch on someone’s belt. If someone got me, they were going to have to work and help change me. I wanted a life changing experience. It is a good sign that God is drawing when people desire to go to church. I will never forget how one Sunday morning I laid in bed awake waiting for Judy to wake. When she did, I said, “Do you want to go to church today?” She about freaked out.

c. I also came under tremendous conviction. I didn’t know that was what it was then, but I did know that I didn’t like me anymore. I didn’t like my life. I hated some of the things I had done to my wife, family and people. I had done some bad things to some people. I remember that I couldn’t wait until I could see one man and tell him how truly sorry I was for something I had done to him. I had it planned out in my mind what I would say and one day I saw him and said it. A good sign that God is drawing a person is when a person begins to dislike their self and hate things they have done to others.

Those are a few things that I experienced when Father was drawing me. I know that had I not experienced those things, I would never have come to Jesus. People could talk to me about Jesus until they were blue in the face and it had no effect. However, when Father drew me things could not happen fast enough. No man can come except the Father draw him (Joh 6:44). I watch for those things around people. Prayer does that for me. It keeps me sharp and watching.

Evangelism Styles – Before we look at today’s Biblical example of prayer evangelism, I want first to refresh us on the different evangelism styles.

1. Intellectual Style (Paul at Athens)

2. Confrontational Style (Peter – Day of Pentecost)

3. Relational Style (Levi – Luke 5)

4. Invitational Style (Woman at well)

5. Serving Style (Tabitha)

6. Testimonial Style (Man born blind)

7. Prayer Style (Cornelius)

Each of us moves fearlessly in at least one of these styles. That is how we defeat the terror of evangelism. However, as we are learning, we actually have an evangelistic style mix.

Power of Prayer Evangelism

This truly is the evangelism style that we can all do. Prayer keeps our hearts soft for the lost. Prayer keeps us listening for opportunities to minister for Jesus. Prayer sets in motion a chain of circumstances through which Father God will draw the unchurched into the kingdom. We see this in a story given in Acts 10 about a man named Cornelius. Acts 10:1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band,

Acts 10:2 A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.

Cornelius was an officer in the Roman army. He was devout, or we could say he was devoted. He was devoted to God, his home, giving alms, and praying always. The NIV Bible says that Cornelius “prayed to God regularly.” He was a man of prayer. We immediately see some results of his prayer life. His entire house “feared God.” If your entire house knows God then you know the amount of prayer necessary for that to be accomplished.

Acts 10:3 One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, “Cornelius!”

Acts 10:4 Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked. The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God.

As Cornelius was praying about three o’clock in the afternoon, the Lord sent an angel to visit Cornelius. This visit was in direct connection to Cornelius praying frequently and giving alms. A person who finds time to pray at three in the afternoon is a person of prayer.

The prayers of Cornelius worked. Do we ever feel that your prayers don’t work? Cornelius also felt that way. One version says, “Your prayers and charities have not gone unnoticed by God!” (TLB). Obviously Cornelius had felt his prayers had gone unnoticed by God. We all feel that at times. We should be encouraged from these verses. Our prayers do not go unnoticed by God. Neither does our giving go unnoticed. We will usually find people who pray a lot will also be people that give a lot. I just want to add this thought. Some of you are big alms givers. You give tithes, offerings, and alms big time. I want to tell you that you also need to pray a lot. The combination of prayer and alms is powerful. But we are talking about prayer today.

Memorial offering

Actually, the prayers of Cornelius “came up as a memorial offering before God.” The Lord told Cornelius that he was going to do something big. This was going to be a memorial. It would be something that people would be talking about two-thousand and three-thousand years down the road. It was monumental. It was going to happen because Cornelius prayed.

The Lord says that prayer is an offering given him. We give our money as an offering. We give our talents as an offering. We give our time. But I don’t know that we think of prayer as giving an offering. The Lord does.

Psalms 141:2 Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.

Prayer requires the sacrifice of one of our most valued possessions, our time. Prayer often requires that we sacrifice what we would rather do and instead spend time with Father God. Prayer requires that we actually talk to God and requires the faith to believe that we are. Prayer rises in the spirit realm as a memorial offering. Perhaps we have never thought of prayer that way, but the Lord does. Prayer is an offering. It is a sacrifice.

The angel gave Cornelius instructions.

Acts 10:5 Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter.

Acts 10:6 He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea.”

Usually the Lord will give instructions during prayer. I don’t think the Lord is all that interested in our telling him how wonderful he is when we pray. What he is looking for are people who will receive and act upon his instructions. We need to ask, as did Cornelius, “What is it Lord?” Then we listen. Instructions come. Sometimes they come as an impression. Sometimes instructions come as a thought from our spirit man. Sometimes they come from talking to an angel.

Cornelius’ instructions were to send men to Simon’s house in Joppa and bring Peter to Caesarea. Peter would come and preach the gospel to the Gentiles in Caesarea.

Why didn’t the angel tell Cornelius?Have you ever thought about why that angel could not tell Cornelius the gospel of Jesus Christ? Think about it. There stood an angel from the Lord talking to Cornelius. Why didn’t the angel tell Cornelius what Cornelius needed to know about Jesus? Why get Peter to come all the way to Caesarea? What’s up with that? Evangelism is not designed to work through angelic beings. The gospel must come through a believer. Delivering the gospel to another person is an honor reserved for you and me. Paul said if an angel from heaven from heaven preaches any other gospel than I preach, don’t believe it (Gal 1:8).

Allow me to refresh our memories with the following part of the story. Cornelius sent men to Joppa to find Peter. The angel was correct. Peter was there at Simon’s house. Peter was taking a midday nap just before the men arrived. During that nap time, Peter had a vision. The vision was a sheet coming down from heaven by its four corners. In the sheet were all kinds of animals, reptiles, and birds (Act 10:12). A voice spoke to Peter saying, “”Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.” Peter said, “Surely not, Lord! I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.” The voice spoke back to Peter saying, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” This happened three times and Peter awoke. As Peter was attempting to understand what he had dreamed, the Spirit spoke to Peter telling him three men were there to find him. Peter was to go with the men. The Holy Spirit informed Peter that he had sent the men. The next day Peter went to Joppa with the men.

Acts 10:24 The following day he arrived in Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends.

Acts 10:27 Talking with him, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people.

Cornelius utilizing relational evangelism and invitational evangelism as he brought together his relatives and close friends to meet and hear Peter. I would imagine there was some testimonial evangelism used there also. He most likely said to those he spoke with, “I was praying the other day and an angel came to me. He told me God was going to do a memorial here. He told me to get this guy named Peter to come to my house. He will be there tomorrow. I don’t know what is going to happen, but has got to be good. You need to be there!” We need to use all the styles we possibly can, but let’s not forget that all these styles were set up with prayer. No matter what evangelism style we move fearlessly in it must be preceded with prayer. Prayer begins the chain reaction.

Peter preached the gospel to the relatives and close friends of Cornelius.

Acts 10:28 He said to them: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean.

What is Peter saying? Peter had figured out the meaning of the vision he had at Simon the tanner’s house. It meant one nationality is not cleaner or more accepted by God than another. In Peter’s case, the Gentiles were no longer to be seen as unclean. This was big. This was really big. This was monumental! The Jew was no longer superior. When God cleans one, he cleans all. In Jesus, we are all equal. Peter had been raised to think, and taught to think, that the Jewish people were God’s special people. God had shown him differently. In Christ we are all the same. In the words of Apostle Paul,

Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

Even male and female and anything in-between matter and they are loved by God. This was the monumental part of what Peter was to tell those at Cornelius’ house. God would prove shortly with a sign that Jews and Gentiles are equally important to God. All people matter to God. Peter then said,

Acts 10:34 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism

Acts 10:35 but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.

The King James’ version says, “God is no respecter of persons.” This was a tremendously important truth. It came to Peter because someone prayed. It was given to us because a man prayed.

Peter preached the gospel of Jesus Christ to Cornelius, his relatives, and close friends. Peter preached about how God sent Jesus as Lord of all. Peter told how Jesus did good and healed all under the power of the devil. Peter preached how Jesus was crucified, died and was raised from the dead. Peter told them there were witnesses that saw Jesus after he was raised from the dead. He told them how Jesus fulfilled all the prophecies of the prophets (Act 10:36-43).

Acts 10:44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message.

Acts 10:45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles.

Acts 10:46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God . . . The proof that the Jews and the Gentiles were equal in God’s sight was the Gentiles received the Holy Spirit exactly as the Jews had received the Holy Spirit. This was monumental. Now the Gentiles were the same as the Jews. This proved that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation. How big was that?

The Holy Spirit came upon Cornelius, his relatives, and his close friends. Cornelius’ prayers had not only brought Peter to Cornelius, his relatives and close friends. Prayer had also brought a revelation to Peter. Prayer had brought the Holy Spirit to Cornelius and his loved ones. Cornelius prayed those people into the kingdom of Jesus Christ. God truly was no respecter of persons. God does not show favoritism.

Acts 10:47 “Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.”

Acts 10:48 So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.

God does not show favoritism is the key thought in this passage. This was a big, big deal for the church. Peter would have to go back to Jerusalem and explain himself. It was a monumental event.

Peter said to baptize the Gentiles exactly as the Jews had been baptized because there was no difference. God now treats all those in Christ identically. He does not show favoritism.

Does God show favoritism? At this point in our study we would say, “No, God does not show favoritism.” But then when it comes to prayer, do I believe he responds to my prayers as he did to the prayers of Cornelius? Does he have favorites when it comes to prayer? We know he does not. My prayers are a memorial offering just as were the prayers of Cornelius. My prayers begin a chain reaction that will literally cause the Holy Spirit to come upon the lives of people. My prayers can bring a person far from God and make him a devoted follower of Jesus Christ. Then that person and I can equally be children of God.

I close by reading the passage in 1 Timothy.

1 Timothy 2:1 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone –

1 Timothy 2:2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

1 Timothy 2:3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior,

1 Timothy 2:4 who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

The power of prayer evangelism is absolutely necessary. There is no one that God does not want saved. People matter to God. God loves people. There is no one that prayer cannot affect. Prayer produces monumental events. My coming to the Lord was monumental. Your coming to the Lord was monumental. Every time a person far from God comes to God, it is monumental. It happened, at least in part, because someone prayed.

Other Related Sermons:

It’s Great To Be Alive With Technology – sermon notes

Power of Relation Evangelism – sermon video audio notes

Seven Styles of Evangelism – Still Hope – sermon video audio notes

Also see:

Sermons Change The World

Life Gate Church sermons by Delbert Young