December 16, 2017

The Importance of Prayer in Evangelism

Phil Shuler

My wife and I were reminiscing about evangelism in our childhood, attempting to determine the primary reason that we saw many souls saved then, and so few saved today. We contrasted the lack of television then to the deluge of entertainment on the tube today. Back then family was the focus for spiritual growth outside the church, but today Mom and Dad both work and the kids are left on their own most of their idle time. We remembered the friendly open door of our neighbors to our testimony concerning Christ, but today almost every business and home in some towns display “no solicitation” signs.

We came to a conclusion. In the day that my father’s church saw souls saved at almost every service, the service was preceded by 30 minutes of prayer. In our revivals back when I was a child, the prayer room was crowded 30–45 minutes before the opening of the service. Shut-ins were contacted so that they could join our efforts from their beds. Everything about those early meetings was bathed in prayer, and the results showed it!

Revival is God’s gift in answer to our prayers. It is not given without conditions. That is why the wise pastor will spend several weeks prior to his evangelist’s arrival preaching sermons of preparation, which includes the necessity of prayer.

Jesus said in John 14:13, “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” Asking is the key to the promise.

During Outreach 2000 next year, a number of evangelists are looking to preach soul-seeking revivals, Monday through Friday, in cities all over America. In these meetings, we will preach to the lost only. The plan is for 1999 to be set aside for prayer and preparation. Churches will gather as many members as possible to pray, and unsaved folks will be contacted to attend.

As we read through the Bible, we read of promises with restrictions. For example, Adam and Eve were given God’s solemn promise of perpetual perfection in an environment of nothing less than Paradise, if only they would obey. They disobeyed, however, and stamped with sin every child that would be born on this earth! Second Chronicles 7:14 begins, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways. . . .” The promise of God follows this conditional clause. The word “if” is the really big word here. Second Chronicles 7:15 hinges on the four conditions in verse 14. “Now [after you have met the fours prerequisites] mine eyes shall be open, and my ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place.” Revival comes after we meet God’s conditions and clear the way for our prayers being not only heard by God, but also answered without reservation.

As I write this article, I am holding a revival for my old college roommate, Jim Singleton, the pastor of Tri- City Baptist Church in Tempe, Arizona. We were both in the U.S. Navy during World War II and served in the South Pacific. The first time I saw him, I liked him.

I remember many things about Jim. His bed was made neatly, his shoes were always shined, and his hair was always combed just right. But the thing that is most vivid in my memory was the fact that about 5:30 each morning, while the other three of us were still in bed, Jim would slip out of bed and get on his knees to spend the better part of 40 minutes in silent prayer. You see, when Jim was in the Navy, he had observed the Marines landing on hostile beaches. He observed that the victory over the enemy was the direct result of pre-landing planning. The troops had practiced over and over again on the beach of an island near Hawaii. The Navy would disembark the troops at the precise time that the shelling ceased. We aboard ship were never surprised at the success of the Marine Corps.

The same kind of intense preparation should be made prior to any evangelistic campaign. Prayer prepares God’s people for revival, prepares the lost for the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and brings down the power of God in revival. Evangelism is dead without prayer, and evangelism is dying today because of a lack of prayer by God’s people!

The late Dr. Phil Shuler was an evangelist based in Rocky Mount, North Carolina.

(Originally published in FrontLine • May/June 1999. Click here to subscribe to the magazine.)

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