Do you want your loved ones, your friends, and neighbors to come to Christ? Begin to claim them for God as you pray. Follow the example of our Lord, our High Priest, whose prayer is recorded in John 17:20: "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message."
Just as Jesus prayed that the Holy Spirit would work in the lives of His disciples, so we can pray that the Holy Spirit will convict non-believers and give them a strong desire to know God. Paul and other writers of the New Testament were frequently requesting prayer for others as well as for themselves.
Although God wants everyone to come to repentance, He chooses to wait for the prayers of a concerned believer to release the Holy Spirit in that person's heart. In our efforts to lead people to Christ, we must first talk to God about men, then talk to men about God. If we follow this divine order, we will see results.
Since it is God's will that none should perish, and since God promises to answer any prayer offered in accordance with His will (I John 5:14-15), we can know with assurance that God will answer our prayers for the salvation of souls for whom he has impressed us to pray (Philippians 2:13).
Prayer is really the place where people are won to Christ; sharing the Good News is just gathering in the fruit.
The aim of this lesson is to demonstrate that prayer played a major part in the witness of the early church.
What the Early Christians Prayed For
- Read Acts 4. What problems did these Christians face?
- What do you think would have happened to Christianity if they had stopped witnessing?
- How important is the soul-winning witness to the cause of Christ today? Give 2 specific examples.
- How did these Christians solve their dilemma? Before magistrates? In private? In public?
- What protected them? (Acts 4:21) For what did they pray?
The Answer to Their Prayer
- The answer to their prayer was immediate and definite. They prayed, and God answered as He had promised. None could stand against them, and they were victorious in Christ.
How can you profit from their courage, prayer, and effective witness?
- Successful praying is simply asking God to work according to His will and leaving the results to Him. from this statement, what part does faith play in your prayers?
- In what ways can other people depend on your courage, prayer, and witness?
- Someone has said, "Prayer is not an argument with God to persuade Him to move things our way, but an exercise by which we are enabled by His Spirit to move ourselves His way."
How does this statement help us understand our role in witnessing and in our willingness to share our faith?
The Christian's Opposition
- How were the witnessing Christians of the early church persecuted? (Acts gives several examples.)
- In your opinion, who is the author of resistance to Christian witness and why? How does knowing this help you have more courage?
- Success in witnessing is simply taking the initiative to share Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results to God.
How do you react when a person does not receive the Gospel the right way? How should you react?
- God's will does not operate according to our timetable. Think of a situation when God's answer to your prayer did not come at the time you expected. How did He answer that prayer? Relate the timing of this incident to waiting on God for His harvest.
- What specific opposition have you encountered recently, and how did you deal with it? How could you have handled it better?
- Which special friends or loved ones have been on your heart recently? Have you ever felt that a particular situation was hopeless? How can prayer change that attitude?
- Look up verses that you can use when you feel a situation is hopeless. Put these verses on a card in your Bible so you can review them and pray over them the next time you get discouraged about witnessing. Use the index in your Bible to find appropriate verses.
What principles have you learned from this study to help you in your prayer and witness to these people?
- List at least one prospective witnessing situation and spend a few moments praying specifically for God's leading and empowering through your life.
Continue praying without ceasing, but instead of begging and pleading with God, thank and praise Him by faith that He is going to answer your prayer in His perfect timing.
Adapted from The 10 Basic Steps Toward Christian Maturity, by Bill Bright, co-founder of Campus Crusade for Christ. © Cru. All rights reserved.