In this sermon, Pastor Neil preaches on the different types of prayer and the relationship between prayer and evangelism. Here are some excerpts:
In her classic Adventures in Prayer, Catherine Marshall identifies eight different types of prayer. Among them are:
Marshall acknowledges that there is more to prayer than the specific categories she wrote about. Prayers of adoration and praise, prayers of repentance and confession, prayers of thanksgiving, prayers of commitment, even, as she says, “simply the lifting of the human heart in silent communion with the Lover of our souls” (Catherine Marshall, Adventures in Prayer, 2) – all of these are types of prayer our Heavenly Father invites us to pray.
The Apostle Paul has something specific in mind, though, when he exhorts the Christians in Colosse to “devote (themselves) to prayer.” Paul suggests that there is a connection between effective evangelism and devotion in prayer. In fact, he suggests that “effective evangelismbegins with persevering prayer” (Lucas, 171). Effective evangelism begins with persevering prayer. Let that sink in.
In devoting themselves to prayer, the Colossians are to be both watchful and thankful. That is, they are to keep their eyes open and on the alert to see what God is doing, where God is at work and how He is at work in the lives of people around them, so that they may join the Lord in what He is doing. And they are to give thanks to God for all the ways they see Him at work.
Notice how Paul asks the Colossians to pray specifically in verses 3 and 4: “Pray … that God may open a door for our message … [and] that I may proclaim it clearly….” They are to prayfor an open door, for God-given opportunities for the gospel to be made known.
Don’t you think God wants us to pray for the same thing – in our community, in our sphere of influence, in the place where God has planted us as a church? I think the answer is intuitively obvious. God wants us to pray for our community, to pray for our mission field in Kingstowne; Pray with intensity and devotion and perseverance for our neighbors who do not yet know the Lord Jesus Christ to come to Him in faith and to become His fully-devoted followers; for open doors to connect with them, to bless them, to show them the love of Jesus in practical ways, to share the gospel with them.
God wants us to pray for the eyes and hearts of our neighbors to be opened to the beauty and power and truth of the gospel; to devote ourselves to prayer; to speak first to Him about the people in our community and their need for Him.
In addition to devoting ourselves to prayer, God wants us, as Paul says in verses 5 and 6, to be wise in the way we act toward outsiders. He doesn’t want us to miss any opportunity forwitness or service. He wants us to make connections and build loving relationships. Hewants us to be gracious in conversation, not argumentative or boring but “salty” in the senseof being both interesting and interested, in the hopes of giving our neighbors a positive, favorable impression of what life is like as followers of Jesus. God wants us in all things at all times to conduct ourselves with both wisdom and grace.