By Palitha Jayasooriya, Crosswalk.com
I was once assigned to oversee a ministry in a difficult part of our city. Since the area was quite unfamiliar to me, I took on the assignment with much trepidation. As we began to conduct our services, however, the Lord began to bless our work beyond what I had envisaged. I was quite baffled by the results we were seeing until the moment when I walked into the upstairs section of our church building one morning. There, in one corner of the sanctuary, I saw a group of ladies crying out to the Lord for His blessing upon our ministry. They joyfully told me that this was something they had been burdened to do on a daily basis.
It then hit me that this was one of the key reasons why we were experiencing the Lord’s grace upon our work.
Prayer is vitally important for the work of God, and in this article, I would like to share four areas of prayer that we could focus on with regard to the work of the Lord and His people. They are:
1. Pray for more workers to enter the harvest field.
This was a prayer request given to the disciples by none other than Jesus Himself. As He looked at the crowds around Him, Jesus had compassion on them because He saw them as harassed and helpless sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36). Jesus, therefore, said, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask Him to send more workers into His fields” (Matthew 9:37-38 NLT).
This is something we all need to earnestly pray for, more so since reports indicate that many pastors are quitting the ministry through discouragement due to the many challenges they face. Our prayers could certainly help to reverse that worrying trend.
2. Pray for open doors for the Gospel.
In the Book of Colossians, Paul tells the believers, “And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ…” (Colossians 4:3).
We need to pray that doors will be opened for the gospel to be shared, as it is the only message that can bring spiritual and eternal transformation into people’s lives. At the same time, our prayers will also break down the obstacles the evil one has set up to hinder the preaching of the gospel.
Let’s pray, therefore, for:
- New opportunities to preach the gospel of Christ.
- New locations to start a ministry
- For more people to attend our churches and receive the gospel with open hearts.
Alfred Lord Tennyson said, “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.”
A Pastor friend of mine was enjoying a refreshing king coconut drink at a wayside shop in Colombo, Sri Lanka one day, when two visually impaired persons knocked against him accidentally. The Pastor, moved by God’s Spirit, spoke to them lovingly, saved their contact numbers, and eventually helped them onto a bus.
As they connected on the phone in the days ahead, an idea for a Christmas Service for the visually impaired was born in this Pastor’s heart. This idea subsequently became a reality and as a result, our church has been able to host a service for the visually handicapped for the past ten years.
God will open many powerful doors in response to the prayers of His children.
3. Pray for your Pastor’s sermons.
All preachers know only too well the value of their preaching being surrounded by prayer. Martin Luther said, ‘If I should neglect prayer for a single day, I will lose a great deal of the fire of faith.’
Similarly, the Apostle Paul referred to prayer many times in connection to his preaching ministry. In Colossians 4:3-4, Paul requested the Colossian church to pray for clarity in his message. He said, “Pray that I may proclaim it (the word) clearly, as I should” (Colossians 4:4). He also requested prayer for boldness - “Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, …. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should” (Ephesians 6:19-20). We need to pray for clarity and boldness in our pulpits.
Let’s commit, therefore, to pray for the sermons that are shared from the pulpit every Sunday. Every Saturday night and Sunday morning, my wife and I pray for all the preachers around the world that would be sharing God’s word over that weekend. As we pray for our Pastors, the Lord will surely enable them to “…know how to answer everyone” (Colossians 4:6).
Last Sunday, as I was about to enter the service to speak at the People’s Church in Sri Lanka, three of the worship team members came around me and one of them, a young worship leader, prayed over me. I felt the anointing of God upon me as they prayed, and the results were very evident later on, as many sought the Lord’s touch over their lives during the time of prayer at the altar.
4. Pray for your loved ones and other believers.
“… people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by… and all of them were healed” (Acts 5:15-16).
Through Peter’s anointed ministry, God performed miracles (Acts 3:6-7, 9:32-35), raised the dead (Acts 9:36-43), opened prison doors and gates (Acts 5:19, 12:8-10), and brought thousands to salvation (Acts 2:41, 4:4, 10:44-46). People even expected to be healed by having Peter’s shadow fall on them as he passed by.
I believe one reason (among others) why Peter’s ministry became so effective, even after he denied Jesus 3 times, was because of the power of intercessory prayer. It was made on his behalf by none other than the Lord Jesus himself. Knowing that Peter would betray him, Jesus lovingly and graciously told Peter at the Last Supper, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:31-32). Peter eventually fulfilled that prophetic prayer through his powerful ministry after being filled with the Holy Spirit.
Jesus also prayed over all His disciples, as shown in John 17:6-19. He thereafter prayed for everyone that would believe in Him through their message. He said, “My prayer is not for them alone. I also pray for those who will believe in me through their message” (John 17:20). Aren’t you glad that prayer included you and me? Further, in the book of Ephesians, the apostle Paul encourages us to pray for others as follows - “...Be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people” (Ephesians 6:18).
It has been our joy to pray over our two teenage sons from the time they were infants. (We actually began praying for them before they were born). Over the years, through the ups and downs, the challenges and victories, and through their growing up changes, we have seen the Lord answering our prayers, many times in unexpected ways. He truly hears and answers prayer!
Friend, never underestimate the power behind prayer. Let’s pray for the four areas covered in this article. While we may not sometimes see immediate results, be sure the Lord hears every fervent prayer, and He will answer. Therefore, as the Apostle Paul recommends, “Never stop praying” (1 Thessalonians 5:17 NLT).
“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16).
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/tommaso79
Palitha Jayasooriya is an Executive/Preaching Pastor at the People’s Church in Colombo, Sri Lanka. He is also an experienced Radio Broadcaster, having served for over 20 years at The Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation. He is happily married to Regina and blessed with two sons, Sheriah and Sheramiah.
Palitha’s articles have been published on Preaching Today, Our Daily Bread, You Version, and Thoughts About God. He also hosts the 3-minute Strength From God’s Word podcast on YouTube. His inspirational sermons can be downloaded here - Popular Sermons by Palitha Jayasooriya - SermonSearch.com
Palitha’s favorite hobbies are spending time with his family and listening to music. He can be contacted on [email protected]
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