After an evangelistic outreach, it is natural to exhale. Leading up to the event, you have been praying for God to move mightily in the hearts and minds of the hearers. You have felt nervous to once again stare into the temptation to fear man. By being on edge, you missed out on a full night’s rest since your mind could not shut off in preparation for the event. Your stomach is growling since you fasted in order to depend more on the Lord. Mentally, you feel fried after having a conversation with Catholics about being justified by faith alone and disputing with a woman about the proper context of not wearing mixed fibers from Leviticus. After serving the Lord and feeling physically, mentally, and spiritually exhausted, you desire to rest.
But relaxation is not an option. It is especially pivotal at this moment to set aside time to pray. Here are four exhortations to get on your knees. First, we must water the seeds which were spread through the ministry of prayer. Second, we must confess our sins for the outreach. Third, we must pray that we will not fall into temptation. Finally, we have the privilege of giving praise and thanksgiving to the Christ that we preach.
1. Pray for the Seed to Bear Fruit
Jesus’ teaching on the parable of the sower illustrates four specific ways to pray for the evangelism efforts. First, Satan is like a bird who picks up the seed of the gospel before it can germinate in the ground. Pray that Satan will not intervene by having a tract fall out of a non-Christian’s pocket. At the same time, pray that a person was not so drunk that they do not remember that you preached the gospel.
Second, some individuals will receive the gospel with joy. However, the sun will scorch them since it fell on the rocky ground. The seed did not take root, and they fall away. These individuals did not come to faith in Christ even though they initially responded positively to it. Brethren, pray for the people who enthusiastically took a Gospel tract or stopped to talk to you about heaven and hell. Petition God to make the seed germinate and be on the good soil. Ask God to help these individuals to face the persecution that will come from friends and family members.
Third, some individuals will hear the Gospel, but the thorns of this world will make the seed unfruitful. These people are in love with the world. Their desires for riches and worldly accomplishment choke out true conversion. Pray that the hearers would see the vanity of riches and reaching goals apart from Christ. Ask God to convict professing Christians for not bearing fruit which shows that they are damned.
Fourth, the last group hears the word of God and are saved. The seed germinates in the ground. The plant grows and produces abundant fruit. Pray that God will save rebellious sinners from the outreach and use them for His glory. May God raise up another Paul, John Knox, and Charles Spurgeon. Beg God to renew a whole family line by making the first Christian in a Muslim family. Plead with God to raise up deacons, elders, and godly women who will be used to do kingdom work.
2. Confess Your Sins
John taught us to continually confess our sins. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The verb, confess, is in the present tense. It is not a one-time act. Instead, it is habitual. Since we are not yet perfect, we continue to sin. Therefore, we must repeatedly admit our transgressions.
During spiritual battle, we are not immune to sin. We can break God’s law by giving a harsh response to someone who curses us. We can lose our patience with an individual who is asking valid questions. We sin by not having love for the people to whom we are preaching. We have transgressed God’s commands when we trust in the eloquence of our preaching to lead people to Christ instead of trusting in the Holy Spirit to bring conviction. We break God’s law when we get incredibly annoyed with a brother who is preaching too long. We have sinned when we take a second glance at a young lady who is barely dressed.
Brothers, we need to have short accounts with God. Do not only preach the Gospel to others but live it out in your life. Confess your sins. Go to Christ who paid for them on the cross. Remember once again His mercy. Embrace the promise from Psalm 103:12, “as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.”
3. Pray for Protection Against Temptation
After an intense outreach, the temptation is to spiritually let down your guard. After reaching the mountaintop, Satan seeks to strike us quickly as we are going back down the mountain. Therefore, Jesus commanded his disciples to pray the following from Matthew 6:13, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” We must depend upon the Lord at all times and be on the lookout for Satan’s devices.
Jesus knows Satan’s tricks. After the Devil tempted Jesus three times in the wilderness, Satan left. Luke wrote, “And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.” The Devil had not given up. Instead, he was plotting for another opportunity to strike Christ. In the same way, Satan may have tempted you during the outreach. By God’s grace, you did not give into it. However, do not think that he will give up. He may try and strike you when you feel exhausted after the evangelism. Pray urgently brothers that you will not fall into temptation. Ask the Lord for strength. Keep on guard!
If you think that I am being too urgent about the spiritual dangers, then heed the warning from James’ epistle. James 4:6 states, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Do not trust in your own strength and spiritual maturity. Humble yourself by dropping to your knees and begging for God’s grace.
4. Give Thanksgiving to God
After pleading with God to bless our outreach, we should thank Him for answering our prayers. Imitate Paul by praising God for giving you protection. In 2 Timothy 4:17, Paul gives thanks to God for providing safety which allowed him to minister. “But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.” May we not be presumptuous in thinking that His protection is always guaranteed.
Second, give thanks to God for giving you good health and the ability to preach. Jesus taught us in John’s Gospel, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” Without Christ, we cannot physically live. He sustains our bodies and keeps our hearts beating. Without our Lord, we do not have the ability to preach. Brother, we would not be able to put words together to form sentences without God’s grace. Besides this, our ministries would never bear fruit apart from Christ. Therefore, we must thank Him for blessing us with the ability to proclaim His truth.
Third, follow Paul’s example by thanking God for appointing you to preach. In 1 Timothy 1:12 Paul stated, “I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service…” Paul remembered that Christ appointed Him to be an apostle and minister of the Gospel. Brothers, thank God that He has appointed you to be an ambassador for Christ who takes the gospel to the lost.
Fourth, give thanksgiving to God for saving your soul. In verse 13, Paul immediately brings up his former way of life. He wrote, “…Though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent.” Brethren, remember your life before Christ. Reflect upon your bondage to sin and rebellion against the King of kings. Then, marvel at God’s grace. In verses 13b-14, Paul stated, “But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” Oh brothers, think of the privilege we have to thank God again for pouring out His underserved mercy upon us sinners!
Next time you open-air preach, please plan for a time of prayer afterward the event. Prayer is an act of worship which demonstrates that God is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. Prayer also reveals our level of dependence on the Lord. The more we pray, then the more we depend upon the Lord. The less we pray, then the more we depend on self. May we follow the Apostle Paul’s example by depending upon the Lord in prayer to bring fruitfulness to our evangelism. He wrote in Colossians 4:2, “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.”
Pastor Brandon was born and raised near Springfield, IL. He graduated from Illinois College in 2007 with a B.A. in History, from Moody Theological Seminary in 2010 with a Master of Divinity, and a PhD in Historical Theology in 2021 from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City. He is also an ACBC certified Biblical counselor. He is married to Karise with whom they raise Ian, Elizabeth, and Patrick. He is interested in history, especially Charles Spurgeon, and has a heart for street preaching and evangelism.