A few months ago a team of InterVarsity staff decided to skip lunch once each week and pray for their non-Christian international friends to come to Christ. One day, a woman they had been praying for suddenly announced that she was going to be baptized, somewhat to the surprise of the staff member who knew her best. A volunteer talked and prayed with her, and when the day of the baptism arrived, her testimony left no doubt that she had come into the kingdom. The staff team decided to try the experiment again, but this time they added a three-hour prayer meeting on one of the days.
Following this prayer time, a number of non-Christians registered for an evangelistic retreat at the last minute, and the total number of registrants rose from 44 to nearly 70. Four people came into the kingdom, and many seekers made significant progress during that retreat. These stories highlight the crucial nature of prayer in seeing individuals come to Christ.
Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 4:4 that Satan has blinded the minds of unbelievers so that they do not see that Jesus is God. Evangelism always involves us in some degree of spiritual conflict, and worshipful, listening prayer is the major means to victory. Prayer also keeps us dependent on the Holy Spirit for leading and power. One of the groups I supervise is an Indian Christian Fellowship at Virginia Tech. Early on in the history of the fellowship, these students chose to fast and pray weekly, particularly for their non-Christian friends. A number of their friends, including Hindus, came to Christ as a result.
Here are a number of ways that individuals and groups can pray during the process of sowing the seed, watering, and reaping. I could tell a story, usually multiple stories, about most of the points given below, but the Scriptures provided are even more valuable:
1. Abide in Christ through the Word and prayer in order to bear fruit (John 15).
2. Pray to meet people who are searching for God (Philip, Acts 8).
3. Prayer walking: Pray near or inside places where people live or meet (Joshua 6:1-20).
4. Pray for boldness and a clear message when sharing (Ephesians 6:20; Colossians 4:4).
5. Pray for the sowing, watering, and reaping process (Matthew 13:1-23).
6. Pray to understand the obstacles to conversion for your friend, then ask God to tear down these strongholds in the name of Jesus (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).
7. Pray to understand what God is doing in your friend’s life (John 5:19).
8. Pray with fasting, asking the Lord for direction in evangelism (Acts 13:2).
9. Pray with your friends for their needs when they are open to this.
10. Pray beforehand and have others pray while you are sharing your faith.
11. Pray in agreement with one or two prayer partners (Matthew 18:19-20).
12. Pray that the enemy’s power to blind would be bound and that your friend would see the glory of God in Christ (2 Corinthians 4:4, 6).
13. Pray corporately (Acts 4:23-31). Enter prayer through worship and thanksgiving, allow time for confession, and spend time listening to hear how to pray. Then pray God’s Word (see below). This is how to pray “in the Spirit” and can keep a prayer meeting from dragging or becoming dull and lifeless.
14. Declare God’s Word over people and situations (Isaiah 55:10-11), and pray scriptural prayers such as these:
- for insight into God’s character and will for both seekers and believers (Ephesians 1:17-19; 3:14-19; Colossians 1:9-12)
- for God to turn on the light in a person’s spirit (2 Corinthians 4:4-6)
- for the Holy Spirit to hover over a situation, bringing life (Genesis1:1-2)
- for a revelation of God’s vision for a person or situation (Proverbs 29:18)
- for God’s will to be done and his kingdom to come in a person or situation (Matthew 6:10)
- for deliverance from evil for individuals and freedom for captives (Isaiah 61:1-4)
- for the salvation of a people group (Romans 10:1)
- for protection and maturity for believers (1 Thessalonians 5:23; Colossians 4:12)