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Evangelism:
The Time Is Now!

Section 2, Chapter 1

The Importance of Prayer
Before Evangelism

Chapter Illustration

Study Questions
Back to Section 1

Why is prayer important before Evangelism? There are four reasons we want to talk about here: first, because man is fallen; second, because our struggle is not against flesh and blood; third, because of our 100% dependence on Jesus in Evangelism; and fourth, because knowledge is not enough.

BECAUSE MAN IS FALLEN

First, because man is fallen. When we say man is fallen, we mean fallen in all that he is: mind, body, spirit, heart, conscience, soul, and emotions. Man is hopelessly corrupted and not what Jesus originally created man to be.  (Is 1:5-6). . Primarily we want to focus on manís mind, heart, and subconscious.

Man's mind is fallen. Manís Mind, an organ of the soul, is his computer by which he stores information gained through his spirit, soul and body. When man reasons about how to decide on an issue, one of his reference points is his library, the mind. He looks to his memory to see what he has learned in the past on the issue; then, based on this information along with the other information systems of man, man makes a decision. The only problem is, though, that the Bible tells us that the world system is not from God  (Col 2:8, 1 John 2:15-17, James 4:4),that our thoughts are not His thoughts, that our ways are not His ways (Is 55:8-9), and that there is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. (Prov 14:12). Because man's mind is educated wrongly and according to the world's ways he is not able to recognize the truth of God's way in the Gospel. The knowledge that he has in his mind from the world tells him that the truth of the Gospel is foolishness (1 Cor 1:18). This is why Paul states in 2 Corinthians 4:3-4,

"And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God."

The first step to effective Evangelism in prayer is praying that Jesus will open a man's heart to see that the Gospel, not the knowledge of man's mind, is the truth of God's saving grace for man.

Man's heart is fallen. Jeremiah the prophet states, "The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?" (Jer 17:9). Man's Heart, the essence of his soul, is the part of man which decides how he will respond to what he has learned through his spirit, soul and body (Prov 6:32, Hosea 4:11, Matt 15:19-20). There are four functions of manís soul which are manifested through manís heart because they are all centered in manís volition: conscious reasoning, subconscious holdings, the soul-expression, and God-implanted giftedness. The Conscious part of man's being is where reasoning takes place, for it takes an act of the will to reason. (Mark 2:6, 8; Luke 5:22). Man's soul is what man becomes and manifests through his physical body in personality, vocation, and lifestyle as a result of his heart response to what he has learned through his mind, body, spirit, conscience, and emotions; and as a result of those abilities and talents God has chosen to give him individually. (Prov 6:32, Matt 16:24-27, 3 John 2, Ex 31:6). Man's Heart, the essence of his soul and volition, was weakened through the fall and personal sin so that the Bible states that our hearts are . . . sold into bondage to sin. (Rom 7:14). This bondage to sin is centered in the soulish subconscious part of man's being. The subconscious part of man's being is where basic presuppositions, decisions made, and talents are stored or implanted as a result of volitional decisions made through conscious reasoning and God-implanted giftedness. Whatever decisions we make with our hearts become a locked-in part of our subconscious and a permanent expression of our soul until something changes it. This includes wrong decisions. Wrong decisions are implanted in our subconscious and become a permanent expression of our soul until something changes it. This is what Paul meant by being sold into bondage to sin. This is also why Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5,

"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful in order to destroy strongholds. We are subverting computations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ."

These strongholds that Paul refers to are in manís subconscious. These strongholds may not keep man from being able to understand the Gospel with his heart, but they will keep him from being able to commit himself to Jesus as Savior and Lord with his heart, his will. You see, knowing the truth does not save you. In order to be saved, the truth of the Gospel we have in our heads must be acted upon by faith with our hearts, our volition. Therefore, before we can be successful in our Evangelistic pursuits, along with praying that the personís heart be opened to recognize that Jesus is the Truth and the only answer to his life and needs, we also need to pray and ask Jesus to tear down the strongholds in the personís subconscious that are keeping him from being able to exercise freely his will to receive Jesus as Savior and Lord or to reject Him.

We also need to pray and ask Jesus to tear down the strongholds of Satan over us that are keeping Jesus from being able to minister to the individuals we are sharing with unhindered through the Holy Spirit. We need to pray and ask Jesus to free us from our own ideas and strife so He can fill us with His ideas and strife about what to say and do. Since only Jesus knows the heart and the mind of men  (Ps 64:6, 1 Cor 2:11), we need to pray that He would prepare us during the week intellectually by leading us to appropriate passages of Scripture and book material that we will need to know that will answer the questions of the people we will be sharing with each week. As we do answer their honest questions, the strongholds of Satan over them will be torn down. They then will be able to release their faith and respond to the truth of the Gospel. Jesus said,

"But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He shall glorify Me; for He shall take of Mine, and shall disclose it to you." (John 16:13-14).

Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, in his book, the God who is there, wrote,

"Therefore, the first consideration in our apologetics for modern man, whether factory-hand or research student, is to find the place where his tension exists. We will not always find it easy to do this. Many people have never analyzed their own point of tension. Since the Fall, man is separated from himself. Therefore, it will take time and it will cost something to discover what the person we are speaking to often has not yet discovered for himself. Down inside of himself man finds it easy to lie to himself. We, in love, looking to the work of the Holy Spirit, must reach down into that person and try to find where the point of tension is."1/135

BECAUSE OUR STRUGGLE
IS NOT AGAINST FLESH AND BLOOD

The Apostle Paul states in Ephesians 6:12, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." Not only do we have strongholds over menís hearts to overcome, but there are also demonic forces at work in peopleís lives as well. Jesus said about Himself in relation to Satan in the Gospel of John 14:30, ". . . the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me." There was nothing in Jesus that Satan could operate through. Not so in us. Demons attach themselves to us through ideas. When we choose to believe something that is not true, this wrong decision gives Satan access to our souls to work through our fallen natures. Because we as Christians are aware of this access, we are acutely aware of an ongoing battle between the flesh and the Spirit so that we cry out daily as Paul did, "Wretched man that I am; who will free me from the body of this death" (Rom 7:24). An unbeliever is normally unaware of this access of Satan in himself through his fallen soul and flesh and so is unaware of the influence and control that Satan has over his fallen nature. Because this is true, they are blind to their need of deliverance through the power of Jesus through the Holy Spirit.

Jesus said though in Luke 10:19, "Behold, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy and to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and nothing shall injure you." Jesus tells us in this passage that we as believers already have present and complete authority and power over all the authority and power of Satan. Therefore before we go out on the field we need to pray and claim authority over these demonic forces that would try to impede the Gospel from going forth through us to those people we are witnessing to. We need to pray also that these hindering spirits would be bound while we are witnessing to men so that their minds and hearts are clear and unhindered in their understanding and response to the Gospel.

Once a previous partner and I went out to an indoor mall to share the Gospel. We always prayed before we went out, but this time because of distractions at home, we forgot to pray. As we approached people to try and share with them, people would walk up and distract us and many other distractions kept happening. It seemed we were arguing instead of sharing the Gospel. We could not seem to get into an intelligent discussion of the claims of Jesus Christ with anyone. I finally turned to my partner and said, "We forgot to pray before we left. Let us go somewhere where it is quiet and pray and bind these spiritual forces which are hindering us!" We did go to a quiet place to pray and prayed as I will show you how in Chapters 2 through 4 of this Section. After we prayed, when we went back out on the mall to share the Gospel with men, we had no more distractions and were able to share the Gospel completely through to the point of decision and beyond. The atmosphere was clear. The demonic forces we had commanded to leave in the name of Jesus had left. They were gone!

BECAUSE OF OUR 100% DEPENDENCE
ON JESUS
IN EVANGELISM

The Apostle Paul stated in 2 Corinthians 3:5-6,

"Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life."

And again in 1 Corinthians 2:3-5,

"And I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God."

As intelligent as the Apostle Paul was, he recognized his total 100% dependence on Jesus and His Holy Spirit if he was to be effective in his ministry. There is nothing mystical or supernatural about this. It centers in what we have already talked about and that is that only Jesus knows what is in the minds and the hearts of men. Therefore, only as we look to His leadership through the Holy Spirit in prayer can we be sure of being effective in our Evangelistic pursuits on the field. Jesus said in John 15:5, "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing."

I believe that most Christians fear of witnessing centers in self-dependence in witnessing. What do I mean? I mean that they believe that the burden of bringing a person to Christ rests on their shoulders rather than on Christís. The end result is that they crumble under a burden Jesus never intended for them to carry. Jesus has not called us to make anyone accept that the Gospel message is true. All He has called us to do is to Explain to a Person What it Means to Be a Christian and How to Become One. If you have accomplished that, then you have accomplished what Jesus has called you to do. He has not called you to be responsible for how the person responds to that message. Dr. Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, stated it this way: Success in witnessing is sharing Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results to God.

When You approach Evangelism this way, it becomes enjoyable. All the pressure is off. If a person says No! in hearing the Gospel, that is okay. If I explain to the person what it means to be a Christian and how to become one and at the point of decision he responds, "I am comfortable where I am at," that is okay. The pressure is off because I have accomplished what Jesus has called me to do which is to explain to the person what it means to become a Christian and how to become one. It is not our job to make the person believe that our message is true. It is the job of the Holy Spirit to convince the person that the message is true. The pressure is on Him, not you. But the Holy Spirit cannot even begin to work in the personís heart until You and I plant the seed of Godís word in their heart by simply sharing it with them. That is your job. It is not your job to argue them into believing that what you are saying is true. Now of course in love in response to the honest questions of the person we are sharing with, we give all the honest answers they need to see that Christianity is the truth and the only answer to their needs, but only in loving response to their questions, not to argue them into believing that what we are saying is true.

Apart from our dependence on Jesus through prayer, we cannot be fruitful in Evangelism because we do not know what is in manís heart and mind and therefore cannot know how we need to prepare ourselves for our work on the field. When we try to act out of our own strength and intellect and try to argue a person into believing the Gospel, we in fact end up becoming a stumbling block to the Gospel and end up hurting people in our Evangelistic pursuits. Proverbs 12:18 states, "There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." And again in Proverbs 13:10, "Through presumption comes nothing but strife, but with those who receive counsel is wisdom." The problem is that often what people throw up as their excuses for rejecting the Gospel is not the issue at all. The real issue can be any number of things: to justify an immoral lifestyle, the pursuit of illegitimate political power, the pursuit of a selfish self-centered materialistic lifestyle, not the argument for rejecting Christ they are presenting before you. The end result is you fall into their trap and waste time arguing with them over something which is not the issue at all, just a smokescreen to divert you away from your intended purpose and calling in Evangelism which is to explain to the person intelligently what it means to be a Christian and how to become one.

If we are to be effective in our Evangelistic pursuits, along with the need of training, before we go out on the field, we need to humble ourselves before God in prayer and ask Him to free us from ourselves. We then need to acknowledge our total 100% dependence on Him if we are to be effective at all on the field. We need to surrender our wisdom and knowledge to Him and let Him decide what aspects of our training and education apply to any given situation and when. Jesus said about His Holy Spirit,

"But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and Bring to your remembrance all that I said to you." (Jn 14:26).

This is what Jesus was talking about in Luke 12:11-12 when he said,

"And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not become anxious about how or what you should speak in your defense, or what you should say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say."

Why? Because only Jesus knows what is truly in the heart and mind of the person we are sharing the Gospel with and what is truly necessary to say that will release their faith to see that Jesus is the truth and the only answer to their life and needs. We do not. The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 64:6, "For the inward thought and the heart of a man are unsearchable." They are unsearchable for man, but not for the Holy Spirit.

When we properly prepare ourselves beforehand through study (2 Tim 2:15, 1 Pet 3:15) and then through prayer surrender that knowledge to Jesus, He assures us that when we go out on the field He will through His Holy Spirit bring back to our memories at those moments what part of our study and training applies. The end result will be that we will be assured of being as effective as is possible in any given witnessing situation as Jesus wants us to be.

BECAUSE KNOWLEDGE IS NOT ENOUGH

Yehovah speaking through Zechariah states, "ĎNot by might nor by power, but by My Spirit" says Yehovah of hosts" (Zechariah 4:6). The Apostle Peter wrote,

"But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence." (1 Peter 3:15)

The Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 2:15,

"Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth."

The Bible plainly tells us that we are to study to show ourselves approved, to be ready to have an answer for everyone who asks us why we hold the faith we do. Concerning the act of saving faith, John H. Gerstner writes concerning inspiration,

"One may have knowledge without faith, but he cannot have faith without knowledge. He cannot experience as God something or someone of which he knows nothing."2/29

At the same time, however, the Bible also tells us that it is not by intellect or might but by God's Spirit that men are brought to Christ. Jesus said in John 6:44, "No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day." This passage is often used incorrectly to justify the perverted teaching about predestination, that God has determined some to be saved and some to be lost. But that is not the context of what Jesus is saying here. Jesus made this statement to the Jews who prided themselves in their knowledge of God in the Old Testament through Moses. In the next verse Jesus tells them, "It is written in the prophets, Ďand they shall all be taught of God."

Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.í" Jesus explains to them that knowing the law does not bring them to salvation, but knowing the Person behind the law does bring them to the means of their salvation. He explains to them that if they knew Yehovah, the Father, behind the law, they would turn to Jesus because the Father always draws those who know Him to His Son: Jesus Christ. The reason why they did not recognize who Jesus was and turn to Him was because they did not know Jesusí Father. All they had was an academic knowledge of the Word of God. Christianity is not knowledge of the Word of God, Christianity is relationship with the Word of God: Jesus, the intent of the knowledge of the Word of God.

This is a seeming contradiction here, but the Bible does not contradict itself. What Zechariah is telling us in this earlier passage is that it takes the power of the Holy Spirit to open menís eyes to see that what we are saying about Jesus being the Truth and the only answer to their life and needs is the truth and that because it is the truth they need to accept Jesus as Savior and Lord of their lives. Therefore, we start with sharing the Word of God which tells the person they need to enter into that relationship to be saved, but having that knowledge is not enough; we need the power of the Holy Spirit to quicken to the hearer that what we are saying is true. This is what Jesus was talking about in John 6:63 when he said,

"It is the Spirit who creates-life, the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are Spirit and are life."

The word in the Greek here is zwopoievw (zo-opoi-ei-o). It is a compound word: ζαω meaning: alive and ποιεω meaning: to make, create = to create or make alive. We start with the knowledge of God. Why? Because without the Word of God the Holy Spirit has nothing with which to create life from. It is the work of the soul which shares the Word of God. This is a necessary first step in the process of Evangelism. But though our souls are alive, they have no ability to create or give life. This is what Jesus is talking about when he states that the flesh profits nothing. It is the work of the Holy Spirit which causes that Word we share to become alive and then bring Life to the hearer.

This is our job in Evangelism: To educate, to teach what the Bible teaches about salvation. It is the Holy Spiritís job to quicken that Word, cause it to come alive in the spirits and the souls of the people we are sharing the word with. But the Holy Spirit cannot even begin to do His job until we do our job first. This is why, before we go out, we need to pray and ask Jesus by His Holy Spirit to quicken His Word as we share the Gospel with men so it becomes alive in their spirits and souls and brings them to salvation.

Having the power of the Holy Spirit in ourselves is not enough to be effective in Evangelism either. The Holy Spirit can only quicken Godís Word. If we have not studied and know the Word of God, there will be nothing the Holy Spirit can quicken to our memories to share. The Holy Spirit does not work in a Vacuum. He quickens us in Evangelism according to the knowledge we have and he quickens the person we are witnessing to according to the knowledge of the Gospel he has, but what the Holy Spirit does not do is work in a vacuum. This is what the Apostle Paul is talking about in Ephesians 6:17 when talking about putting on the full armor of God before going out to do Evangelism when he says, "And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." (Eph 6:17). If you do not have the word of God in Your heart, the Holy Spirit through you has no weapon by which to bring others to Jesus. The Holy Spiritís sword is the knowledge of the Word we have in our hearts. Therefore study of Godís word in Evangelism is not an option, but an absolute first priority in preparing for Evangelism.

What is the point I am trying to make here? I am saying that if we just study but do not pray and ask Jesus by His Holy Spirit to quicken our words so that it will go to the heart and not just the head and bring Life to the hearer, all we will do is impress the person with our intelligence. We will not bring him or her to Christ. If we pray but do not study, when we go out on the field, we will not know what to say and will come back naked, embarrassed, and ashamed. It is not an either or proposal. We need to both prepare ourselves intellectually as well as pray for God's guidance and power to be effective in Evangelism. (See Acts 4:23-31, 1 Cor 4:19-20, Eph 6:18-20, 2 Thess 3:1-3).

If, therefore, you are truly serious about learning to be effective in Evangelism, doing the homework, coming to class, and going out on the field is not enough. You must also pray. You must make sure that You first pray. Why? Because man is fallen, because our struggle is not against flesh and blood, because we are 100% dependent on Jesus, and because knowledge is not enough.

Prayer is not an option. You can build the most perfect automobile in the world, but if you do not put gas into the gas tank, the car will be worthless for its intended purpose. You can go through the most perfect training program in Evangelism, but without prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit, all the training in the world is worthless for its intended purpose. Prayer is the gasoline in the engine of Evangelism Training which makes the intended purpose of training work on the field. Prayer is an absolute necessity if what you do on the field is to go from the head to the heart and bring about the change in the personís life which Jesus desires. Without prayer first, no matter how well you know the material, you will find yourself falling flat on your face in the field.

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 3:7, "So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth." Our job is to sow seed, water, fertilize and weed. Godís job is to cause that seed to come to life as a result of our labor and then grow to fruition. For this reason we need to pray before we go out and share the love of Jesus with men that Jesus will cause our seeds, fertilizer, weeding and watering to cause growth in the heart of the individual we are witnessing to so they will respond positively to the message of the Gospel and receive Jesus as Savior and Lord of their lives.

If you want to be successful in Evangelism on the field this week, study the Evangelism material, the Word of God and come to class. But then before you go out, put life into that knowledge you have learned by coming to the prayer meeting. See you there!

Recommended Further Reading:

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Brown, Rebecca M.D. He Came To Set The Captives Free. Chino: Chick Publications, Copyright 1986 by Rebecca Brown, M.D.

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Rebecca Brown, MD. Prepare For War. chino: Chick Publications. Copyright 1987 by Rebecca Brown.

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Study Questions
On to Chapter 2
Bibliography & Notes
Section 2 Chapters

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