Summary: Part 2 of a 6 week series on sharing faith. This is the power of our evangelistic effort-prayer.
OUT OF THE SALTSHAKER AND INTO THE WORLD
Part Two—The Preparation of Prayer
Mark 4:3-8, 13-20, 26-29
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Pastor Brian Matherlee
In preparation for a meeting in a large city, famed evangelist Billy Sunday wrote a letter to the mayor and asked for the name of individuals he knew who had a spiritual problem and needed help and prayer. How surprised the evangelist was when he received from the mayor a city directory.
1. Prayer is like scattering seed
a. The sower sows the seed all over the place and then he plows. It seems backwards to us but that is how it was done at that time. It is a picture of how prayer precedes the work of touching people for Christ.
2. God moves and works with prayer
a. An auto dealer, facing bankruptcy, was walking along a beach when he kicked a bottle and out popped a genie. "Thanks for setting me free," said the genie. "To show my appreciation, I’ll grant you one wish."
"Okay," said the auto dealer, "I want to be the only foreign car dealer in a major metropolitan market."
"Done!" cried the genie.
Immediately, the dealer found himself in a glass-walled office looking out over a major city. "Quick," he said to his secretary, "tell me who I am."
"You’re the only Cadillac dealer in downtown Tokyo," said the secretary.
SOURCE: The Jokesmith, Bits & Pieces, November 10, 1994, p. 4. & sermoncentral.com
3. Harvest will come
The power of prayer in reaching the world for Christ is unmistakable.
Jesus prayed in John 17:20, “My prayer is not for them alone I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message.”
Author Thom Rainer tells of a man name George who learned a few weeks after becoming a Christian that at least 4 people were praying for him daily. George said:
“I wasn’t surprised (my wife) was praying for me….then George learned about others. ‘A friend of mine who lives over seven hundred miles away called me when he heard the news. He told me that he prayed for me twice a day. Can you believe that? Twice a day.’ George then heard about his mother-in-law praying for him every day. And then he got the word that someone from the church whom he did not know was praying for him as well.’
“I tell you one thing. I learned a whole lot about the power of prayer in salvation. And I’ve already started praying for some of my lost friends.” (The Unchurched Next Door, pg. 211)
Somebody has prayed for you!
4 Soils represent people in 4 different places spiritually:
• First-people are highly resistant to the Gospel (v.15) even antagonistic & combative.
• Second-people are looking for a quick fix but let it go when it doesn’t magically fix everything immediately (v.16-17) they misunderstand the reality of the Gospel.
• Third-not too dissimilar from the second group, these people are receptive to the message of Christ but don’t persevere because of the cares and enticements of the world they turn away (v. 18-19)
• Fourth-here is the individual who receives the hope of God in Christ and begins to follow Jesus. (v.20)
So, how should we pray to change the world we live in?
1. Pray for workers
a. Jesus said in Matthew 9:38, “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
b. Spiritual condition of workers-Salt is no good if it loses its saltiness, light is useless if it is hidden or removed from sinful living.
c. Courage to be workers ourselves
i. Prayer doesn’t replace work—it precedes it!
ii. A paraphrase of Paul W. Powell, in The Complete Disciple: "Many churches today remind me of a group of farmers trying to gather in a harvest while they sit in the machine shed. They go to the machine shed every Sunday and they study bigger and better methods of agriculture, sharpen their plows, grease their tractors, and then get up and go home. Then they come back every Sunday and study bigger and better methods of agriculture, sharpen their plows, grease their tractors, and go home again. They do this week in and week out, year in and year out, and no one ever goes into the field to gather the harvest."
d. Wisdom to recognize and utilize opportunities
2. Pray generally
a. Like Jesus prayed in John 17:20
b. For people we don’t know & situations we don’t understand
i. A father, walking past his 5 year old daughter’s room one night, proudly noticed she was on her knees in prayer. Listening in, he heard this curious prayer- "abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz"- repeated several times. When she was finished, he asked her what it meant: "God is really smart," she said, "when I don’t know what to pray about, I just say the alphabet and He figures it out for me"