Evangelistic Prayer

It is no small thing that the apostle Paul, uber church planter, would ask the churches to pray for his effectiveness in spreading the gospel. I never had a course in logic, but I figure if Paul needed the Spirit’s help, then we do too.

Below are Paul’s evangelistic requests, summarized in four key words. We can’t go wrong adopting his requests as our own. We should pray for:

OPPORTUNITY

“At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ.” (Col 4:3)

CLARITY

“[Pray] that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.” (Col 4:4)

BRAVERY

“[Pray] that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel.” (Eph 6:19)

RECEPTIVITY

“Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you.” (2 Thess 3:1)

Father, please open a door for me to speak of Christ crucified and risen. And when that door opens, give me the boldness to walk through it and the ability to make the good news of salvation clear. Finally, grant a receptive heart in the hearer so that your word may be honored through repentance and faith. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The Easter Sheep

Forget the Easter Bunny. Let’s talk about the Easter Sheep.

What? You’ve never heard of the Easter Sheep? He’s different from the Easter Bunny in a number of ways. The most obvious difference is that, well, he’s a sheep, which isn’t the same thing as a bunny. A more significant difference is that the Easter Sheep doesn’t come to you like the Easter Bunny does (at least not at first). Rather, you go to him. And the most important difference of all is that you aren’t expecting to get anything from the Easter Sheep, like you would from the Easter Bunny. Sorry, no baskets of candy or chocolate. Quite to the contrary, your plan is for the Easter Sheep to receive a gift from you.

Who is the Easter Sheep? He’s your family member who doesn’t follow Jesus. She’s your classmate or coworker who doesn’t know the Lord. He’s your neighbor who hasn’t believed the gospel. She’s your friend who has never repented and believed in Christ. The Easter Sheep is anyone who one day becomes a Christian due in part to you seeking them out.

Jesus once asked, “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?” (Luke 15:4). What kind of person, Jesus wonders, would be so careless as to disregard one who is lost? Going after lost sheep is what any good shepherd would do. It’s what Jesus himself did.

Easter is about Jesus seeking out his lost sheep. In his brutal death on the cross and glorious resurrection on the third day, Jesus was being our Good Shepherd. He was seeking and saving the lost. He was laying down his life for the eternal safety of the sheep. Now you and I have the privilege of sharing the good news of his salvation with those who are lost.

Easter is a uniquely strategic time to interact with your lost family and friends more intentionally with the gospel. Despite our culture’s downgrade in appreciation for Christianity, there remains some level of openness to spiritual conversation and attending a church service. According to NAMB and Lifeway Research, “67 percent of Americans say a personal invitation from a family member would be very or somewhat effective in getting them to visit a church. A personal invitation from a friend or neighbor would effectively reach 63 percent.” These percentages peak around Easter (even more so at Christmas).

So here’s a plan: Invite someone to join you at church this Sunday. That’s simple. You can do it. After church, ask them what stood out to them about the service in general and the sermon in particular. Let the sermon be a springboard to listen to their thoughts about Jesus and to clarify the gospel to them. Who knows? Maybe your friend will go home Easter Sunday afternoon as a new creation in Christ.

This Easter, go after the Easter Sheep. It’s one of the greatest ways you can love your neighbor.