The following was written by Evangelist Michael Gott. We wanted to share it with those who are teaming with us as prayer partners.
UKRAINE 2010: THE CALL TO PRAYER— THE COMMAND TO EVANGELIZE
We must rethink the relationship between prayer and evangelism. Let’s consider prayer first. Anyone that is involved with the work of God has something good to say about prayer—but please don’t simply dismiss these comments as mere pious words. This is as serious as gunfire!
I promise you I have labored hard not to be guilty of laborious platitudes about prayer—therefore, read carefully and stop and pray as you read.
No one can study the Bible and come away without being aware the Lord constantly encourages prayer; in fact, the emphasis to pray is overwhelming. James 5:16 has the Lord telling us that prayer is always powerful and effective, and in Matthew 18:19 Jesus teaches us with urgency, “I tell you, that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father …”
Essentially we must believe that prayer is not conquering God’s reluctance but laying hold of God’s willingness. Realize then the very act of prayer honors God, and I will tell you why: All prayer glorifies God because it admits that God is who He is—God, the God that promises to answer prayer! Finally, realize—if God is going to do it, it has to be by prayer. Proverbs 15:8 says, “The Lord … delights in the prayers of his people.”
Let me transparently admit, maybe to your surprise, I do not understand prayer—I just know it is effective. When we pray, God’s power is unleashed. When we pray, we are able to somehow enter the arena of spiritual conflict and align ourselves with God. Because of intercession, supernatural power is unleashed and evil forces recoil and wicked principalities are bound. That is argument more than enough!
Prayer is an indispensible part, I believe, of all effective evangelism. Trying to do evangelism without prayer indicates that we foolishly think we have the brute strength to do it in our own power and ability. What a mistake! The old Benedictine proverb “To work is to pray” in my opinion is wrong; it is more true to say, “That prayer is work that saves work!” and, “Work before prayer makes double work.”
I find myself rehearsing what Paul said to Timothy and how he evidently felt it was absolutely indispensible. “Here are my directions: Pray much for others; plead for God’s mercy upon them …” (but then notice how it ties prayer together with evangelism) “… for he longs for all to be saved and to understand this truth” (I Timothy 2:1, 4, Living Bible). It is clear intercession and evangelism are interlocked by God. Yet, some involved in international missions get so excited that they seldom stop to pray. And a large part of churchgoing people seldom stop and intensively pray. I emphasize “intensively pray.” We wonder do we take the word of Jesus seriously at all! “Prayer does not enable us to do a greater work,” said Scottish pastor Thomas Chalmers, “prayer is a greater work for God.”
We must pray—long ago the number 10,000 came to our minds. We longed to have ten thousand praying for us daily. We thought, “We must have at least 10,000 people praying for us as we go forth to evangelism in the heart of the former Soviet Union.” That idea became unanimous.
It is a solemn obligation. I once read an article where a plea was made “for us all to take prayer much more seriously.” It must be intense with a single-minded focus. This is prayer for the conversion of people; that is, pray for those who will not pray for themselves. You will pray, but do not make unrealistic promises; most of us cannot spend a whole day in this prayer—so make your prayer time focused.
If we are serious about effective evangelism, we will seriously pray. But as I said, do not make a lofty promise to pray for an hour a day. Some people might be able to do that—but for most of us two intense fifteen minute sessions per day is realistic. Then, make that a determined commitment.
Let our prayer guide help you (we will post it on the website); it has helpful information and even some valuable insights. Join us in evangelism by the ministry of prayer. Bow down in humble, expectant faith before God and pray, passionately. We are counting on you. For those committed to pray for us—get the team list and pray for us one-by-one. God gave us some wonderful men to fill the choir. The man appointed director is a colleague, Don Blackley. He has beside him the president, John Bell. These are some of the finest men and dedicated men of song I have ever seen anywhere in the world. All of them have helped us expand our thoughts a thousand-fold as to the long term potential of Ukraine 2010.
And we turn from prayer to the power of the Gospel. We are told to evangelize. But again, I emphasize the importance of combining the two: prayer and evangelism. In theory they must never be separated, for they are like the two blades of a pair of scissors or the two wings of an airplane; both are irreplaceable.
For a moment look at the entire group that goes to Ukraine—our attitude is like that of the early church. J. B. Phillips said of them, “These early Christians [in the book of Acts] were led by the Spirit to the main task of bringing people to God through Christ, and were not permitted to enjoy fascinating sidetracks.” We have a single purpose, and we will not get sidetracked! We understand—this is our mission. I love our entire team because all of them love the Lord, and I love them because of their zeal for souls. That’s who we are.
Paul once wrote these words to Timothy about someone he honored: he “is our brother and God’s fellow worker in spreading the gospel of Christ” (I Thessalonians 3:2, NIV). That is what evangelism is from top to bottom, “spreading the gospel of Christ.” So it’s more than an effective method—it’s a powerful message. “Evangelism is the presenting of the historical biblical Christ as Savior and Lord, with a view to persuading people to come to Him personally. The results of evangelism include obedience to Christ and following in the fellowship of His church.”
So that, I now look at everyone with us as active evangelists—a little over 200. Each of us will echo Paul’s convictions, “For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is God’s powerful method of bringing all who believe it to heaven … everyone is invited to come to God … This Good News tells us that God makes us ready for heaven—makes us right in God’s sight—when we put our faith and trust in Christ to save us.” (Romans 1:16-17, Living Bible) All of us believe the Gospel is powerful to save.
Each of us believes without reservation that the Gospel has the power to change people. It changed us, and we have seen it change others also. It is the dynamic power of God—we are sure of that fact.
Our faith in Christ has led us to love, and love has led us to do evangelism. So we think of evangelism as the logical outcome of loving God and being filled with love. Evangelism is the product of being changed by Christ—I cannot think of one exception on the team.
May I give you a clear statement about what we mean when we say evangelism? Evangelism, according to the Scriptures, is the proclamation of the gospel of the crucified and risen Christ, the only Redeemer of mankind. It is preaching or presenting Him with the purpose of persuading condemned and lost sinners to put their trust in God by receiving and accepting Christ as Savior through the power of the Holy Spirit, and then to serve Christ as Lord in all of life and to fellowship with God’s people—the church—as together we look forward to the day of His coming in glory.
We bind prayer and evangelism together—almost in this case indissolubly. Each will do their part, and all will have a part.
So, the former always makes the latter more effective, and the latter never is fully effective without the former. Pray for us as we go out in the confidence that your prayers will make us more effective in evangelism. That balance must be maintained.
Let all of us rededicate ourselves to the service of our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, using both prayer and witness to advance His kingdom. There is already a sense of renewal in our hearts. I can think of a well-chosen verse:
My gracious Master and my God,
Assist me to proclaim
To spread through all the earth abroad
The honors of Thy name.
So, God has put a binding relationship between earnest prayer and harvest evangelism. Both must be understood and undertaken with this in mind.
Maybe no one is better able to positively challenge us about this than Billy Graham. I end this essay with his words resounding in our souls:
“One vital aspect of unity in the task of evangelism should be a true partnership in prayer—especially prayer for our work on evangelism.
Evangelism is the central mission of the church—if evangelism is so vital to the life of the church, those set apart to ‘do the work of an evangelist’ deserve prayer support.
Prayer for evangelism and evangelists is important and essential. It is the means by which we all can share in the completion of the great commission throughout the whole world.”