I praise the Lord for His blessings, and His discipline. Lately I have been very blessed to have two brothers, Alex and Giancarlo, accompanying me for evangelism in the city. We have been preaching about three times a week, and by His grace we have been seeing much fruit from our efforts. Many convicted and interested souls have been approaching us; everything from drug addicts, to alcoholics, to nominal churchgoers, to Catholics, to demoniacs, to a man contemplating adultery. We’ve witnessed to these people, counseled them, and prayed for many. A number of them have even been attending our Sunday church meetings. God has been faithful to glorify His name through our efforts.
In fact, up until a couple of weeks ago, things had been going so good that brother Alex, who was new at all this, was expecting things to always be this good. He admittedly was growing comfortable and confident with this evangelism thing, thinking it to be a breeze. That was a mistake on his part, but we all made another crucial mistake—and one day the consequences of this mistake came crashing down on us. I had been really busy one week and had not been spending as much time with the Lord as I know I should have. In fact, all of us had been lacking in this area. When we got to Centro and prayed, I felt convicted about this and repented, and my brethren did as well. And then I got up on the box...
And that’s when I felt it.
I didn’t preach anything heretical. I didn’t fumble over my words and ruin my Gospel presentation. I didn’t even feel nervous. My message was clear, concise and to the point. In as much detail as I could, given the short amount of time that I had, I described the nature of God’s holiness, justice and omnipotence, man’s radical depravity and total inability to save himself, the reasonableness of an eternal hell, the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, and repentance and faith as the means of salvation. I even drew on the Hebrew to explain the meaning of the word "holy", and in that language pronounced our Lord’s cry on the cross as He was being forsaken by the Father. I would later ask brother Alex for his opinion of how I did, and he would reply that the presentation was really clear and understandable.
However, getting off the box, I knew something was drastically wrong.
I didn’t get a crowd of people, and only a few stopped to listen for a few minutes—but that wasn’t the problem. The problem was that I felt cold, empty, like my mouth had just spewed forth steel bricks. There was little anointing, hardly any power accompanying my words. Alex preached after me, and later that evening so did Giancarlo. And they felt the same way as I did. Something was missing. And it certainly showed: the people, for the most part, were unresponsive, apathetic, merely walking by as they heard the preaching of the Word of God. As if we were merely a trio of lousy, untalented street performers.
We certainly learned our lesson that evening. Afterwards we all agreed that our priority in evangelism needs to be spending time with the Lord in prayer.
Our greatest need as heralds of the glorious Gospel of our Lord is to be clothed with power from on high. To be men marked with the presence of the living God. Oh, you may feign many things; you can appear before men to have a great intellect, you can feign to possess a vast knowledge of the Word of God, you may even deceive men with an external form of piety. But there’s one thing you absolutely cannot feign: the presence and power of the Holy Spirit upon your life. The more time you spend at the feet of Christ, the more you will be transformed and conformed to is image. The more genuine, Spirit-wrought fruit you will bear, in secret and in public. And the more unction will accompany and clothe your Gospel preaching.
The apostle Paul told the Thessalonian church that his proclamation of the Gospel came to them “not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction” (1 Thes.1:5). We cannot and must not be content to share the most majestic and glorious salvation message of all time with mere words.
Brethren, I am not advocating that you decide whether or not to proclaim the Gospel based on how you “feel”. Neither am I saying that you have to get crowd of people while open air preaching in order to have been “successful”. But when the Holy Spirit has come upon you in power, you do “feel” it, and you do get people to stop and notice. The majority of the time, the power and presence of the God will be evident to the preacher and to those who listen.
I urge you, brethren, SEEK GOD. Seek Him with all your heart. Run to His feet and stay there as long as you can. Praise Him, walk with Him, talk with Him, intercede for your brethren and for the lost, read your Bible on your knees, praying through His promises. Whatever you do, DO NOT NEGLECT THIS VITAL MEANS OF GRACE. Your spiritual life depends on it.
Evangelists: powerless preaching can bring death. Christ is the life, and his life is the light of men. Only with His life, His light, and His fire upon your soul can you ever hope to be used of God to win souls for Him. Pray, pray, pray!
I end with the following quotes from a worthy man of God:
"Oh brother pray; in spite of Satan, pray; spend hours in prayer, rather neglect friends than not pray, rather fast, and lose breakfast, dinner, supper and sleep too - than not pray. And we must not talk about prayer –we must pray in right earnest. The Lord is near. He comes softly while The Virgins Slumber."
"I have learned by experience that it is not much labor but much prayer that is the only means to success."