Friday, April 12, 2013

Women in Evangelism: Prayer

Fra Bartolomeo - Woman kneeling in prayer, seen from behind (study for the figure of St Catherine) - Google Art Project
I've found that since we've started this blog, my mind and heart have returned again and again to evangelism.  It's just not possible to read the Bible, to study what it says, without coming back to the notion that one of our primary jobs is to bring the lost to Christ.  I've measured myself against the standard of the Bible and found myself lacking.  Yes, I know that teaching my children is a huge part of evangelism.  However, I don't think that my role as Christian woman stops there.  I'd like for you to join me in my journey of discovery as I try to find my place as a believing lady called to spread the gospel.  I think you'll agree that the best place to start is in the Scripture.  I've taken a look at every time women are mentioned in the New Testament from Acts to Revelation.  Over the next two weeks, we'll study together what these women did to participate in evangelism.

I don't think it is an accident that the first time we see the female followers of Christ in Acts, they are praying.  "They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers" (Acts 1:14).  The Bible doesn't tell us what they were praying about, but I think we can make some good guesses.  Jesus has died and risen again.  The men had reported seeing him ascend into heaven after telling them to stay put until they were given power from the Holy Spirit.  All of Christ's followers were in a waiting pattern.  Had I been there, I think I would have been thanking God for Jesus's resurrection.  Mary probably also thanked God for John taking care of her.  I might have also prayed for wisdom for the coming days. 

Have you ever had to wait while serving Jesus?  Maybe you've emailed a friend about her soul, and you haven't heard back from her yet.  Perhaps you've had to pause while some administrative work is being finished, like getting a passport to a foreign field. Waiting on the Lord is something that happens to every Christian.  Let's make the decision not to twiddle our thumbs while we wait, but to spend that time in prayer instead.  We can thank God for his provision, pray for future wisdom, and of course, pray for our lost friends.  We know that God answers those prayers.  Just look at what happened when the disciples' wait was over. The formerly snivelly apostles speaking boldly, and 3000 saved in one day! 

There are also instances in Acts where Christian women prayed for their brothers in Christ.  When Peter was arrested in Acts 12, many believers were gathered in the home of Mary (John Mark's mother).  Again we don't have their specific prayers recorded, but we can guess that they were praying for Peter's safety.  Their prayers were answered even before they had finished praying, as the miraculously released Peter joined them.  Later, in Acts 21, the wives and children of the believers in Tyre all went to the beach to see Paul and company off.  While there, they prayed together.  

Sisters, we must never underestimate the power of our prayers.  When we pray for a fellow Christian who is being persecuted for spreading the word, or when we pray for missionaries, we are participating in their work.  Luke would not have mentioned the prayer on the beach if it hadn't meant a lot to him and those with him.  Covering our brothers and sisters is prayer is an important work we can do in spreading the good news. 

I can think of other examples of how we can pray as part of our evangelism.  We can, like Paul, pray for the lost souls we are trying to reach (Romans 10:1; 1 Timothy 2:1-4).  We can pray for our own wisdom and boldness in reaching them.  Even Paul, the missionary of missionaries, asked for prayers to reach others (Ephesians 6:19-20).  Prayer is such a powerful tool (James 5:16). Here is where the rubber meets the road.  As in many areas of my life, I am good at reading and studying about prayer; I am good at talking about prayer, but I am not so good at doing it.  Today I want to make a commitment to pray every day as part of my job in carrying out the Great Commission.  When I'm waiting, I want to fill my time with prayer. I want to enter the Father's presence on behalf of other Christians who are doing His work.  Will you join me?  
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), Copyright(c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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