Credit: Praying Man by Vittore Carpaccio (1466-1525), Wikipedia
If you are unable to attend your church’s outreach event, you still have a critical role to play, namely to pray. Outreach events are often a lot of ‘doing’ and the ‘praying’ part can be forgotten. Below is a simple guide for the hard work of praying for an outreach event.
- Pray for Clarity. In most outreach events, there are opportunities to be a good neighbour, but it can be easy to pass up on being clear about the gospel. Pray that every opportunity to speak the gospel will be met with a clear, concise, winsome statement of the gospel of Christ.
- Pray for Soil. Jesus told the parable of the sower (Matthew 13) and distinguished different kinds of soil. There is really only two kinds, the kind that bears lasting fruit and the kind that doesn’t. We need to pray for the supernatural work of God to prepare ‘spiritual soil’ that will respond to the gospel seed sown.
- Pray for Harvesters. Jesus announced that the harvest was ripe and ready. The only issue was the need for harvesters (Matthew 9.37-38). Jesus said that disciples need to pray that more workers would be sent by God into the harvest. This shows the invaluable role that prayer has in God’s purposes. This command from Jesus should be obeyed leading into outreach opportunities as we pray that workers would be sent into the harvest.
- Pray for Unity. Jesus explicitly stated that the unity of his disciples would provide the warrant for others to know to whom they belonged. This unity is expressed in love for one another. At an event that requires organization among sinners, there will always be rough edges between people. Therefore we must pray for the unity that love for one another produces. Love is effective in this because love “covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4.8), and “bears all things” (1Cor 13.7)
- Pray for Compassion. Consider the compassion of Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel (9.36, 14.14, 20.34). It is easy to mistakenly think of people as ‘projects’ and the goal of an outreach as letting people know how smart you are. But we need to pray to see others with the compassion that Jesus had for lost sinners. Prayer overcomes our tendencies to turn outreach into self-promotion. Prayer also reminds us most of all of Jesus’ compassion toward us—- sinners whose only boast is the mercy of the Saviour.