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Prayer and the
It was while while Carey was reading the journals of Captain Cook that he came under conviction that he needed to do something for the people he was reading about. At the time he was working as a cobbler repairing shoes. He had chosen that profession because he could not handle sunlight and was forced to work indoors.
As Carey worked on the shoes, he prayed. Stretched before him on the wall was a map of the world made out of leather, and he began praying for the people he was reading about.
Prayer will bring about the same good work in our hearts. And, as a result of those prayers, things WILL happen.
We are told that only the work accomplished with much prayer will in the end avail itself for good. This is true for witnessing as much as anything else, and I am quite confident that God would have us praying much about our witnessing. Why?
First, things happen as a result of our prayers that cannot happen otherwise. Jesus said, “Ask, and it shall be given unto you” (Matt 6:7,8). James reminds that we don’t have, because we don’t ask” (James 4:2). In the book Great Controversy, it says that it is God’s plan to grant in answer to the prayer of faith, that which He would not grant if we did not ask” (GC 525). E. M. Bounds said, “The prayers of God’s saints are the capital stock in heaven by which Christ carries on His great work upon the earth. Great throes and mighty convulsions in the world have come about as a result of these prayers. The earth is changed, revolutionized; angels move on more powerful, more rapid wings; and God’s policy is shaped when the prayers of His people are more numerous and more efficient.” E. M. Bounds on Prayer p. 11 I also like this quote which speaks of the condition of the poor demon possessed man to whom Jesus came upon descending from the Mount of Transfiguration: “Down in the plain there are souls enslaved by Satan; they are waiting for the word of faith and prayer to set them free.” Mount of Blessings p. 43
Prayer changes our own hearts. The more we pray about something, the more likely we will be open to God’s convicting voice on the matter. Carey did not hear God’s call in a missionary conference, nor in a gathering of like-minded people, rather he heard God’s call in his cobbler shop.
Prayer also opens our eyes to what God is providentially doing around us. In Carey’s case, there wasn’t support, and he was a long way from India, but God used those prayers to bring about the changes that opened the way for his eventually going. In our day, our prayers can open our eyes to witnessing opportunities all around us, to activities that we can participate in, to people who are open to the gospel that we hadn’t noticed before.
Praying also gives us confidence as we go through the day. Knowing that we have asked God to bless our efforts, knowing that we have asked God to guide our footsteps, knowing that we are fully expecting to witness as a result of our prayers, we will surely have those prayed-for-opportunities and we will recognize them as divinely ordained opportunities.
Finally prayer begins to create an openness on the part of the people we come in contact with and begins the transforming process. I know of quite a few people, for example, who began praying for the people in their school or work, made themselves available to God, and found themselves working for God in ways they would have never dreamed possible.
When we pray, GOD WORKS…all around. I believe with all my heart that there was a direct connection between Carey’s prayers and the work God called him to, and there will be a direct connection between our prayers and our witnessing.
S. D. Gordon, a protestant writer of the early 1900s said, “You can do more than pray, after you have prayed. But you cannot do more than pray until you HAVE prayed. And just there is where we have all seemed to make a slip at times, and many of us are yet making it a bad slip. We think we can do more where we are, through our service, then prayer to give power to service. No—with the blackest underscoring of emphasis, let it be said, No. We can do nothing of real power until we have done the prayer thing.” S. D. Gordon Quiet Talks on Prayer
In adopting a witnessing lifestyle, it is important to make praying about witnessing, and praying for people to witness to, a matter of ongoing prayer. If we do, we WILL be witnessing!
Father, help us to pray, TODAY, about your kingdom and the souls you are wanting to reach through us today for your kingdom. Keep us praying! Prepare us to be the vessels You can use. Then allow us to be used by you in those providential meetings where we can encourage someone for you. Might we respond to your promptings today. Might we see you work in us, through us, if necessary, in spite of us, TODAY, in Jesus’ name, Amen!
Written by Dan Augsburger