The book of Acts provides biblical source material for challenging congregations to use prayer as a primary ingredient to experience joy in their missions ministries. First, Acts 2:42 reveals that prayer was a vital part of the foundational lifestyle and relationships that were involved in the evangelistic mission of the early church.
The phrase “continued steadfastly” (Acts 2:42) paints the picture of believers who gave devoted constant attention and unrelenting care to prayer. Knowing that believers are still commissioned to be witnesses to the message of the gospel, church congregations must include prayer as a foundational element of their mission. Second, Acts 4:23-33 reveals that prayer paved the way for a bold and fruitful proclamation of the gospel. Peter and John had just received threatening commands “not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus” (vs. 18). When they shared their experience with the church, the response of the believers was to pray. Many missionaries today receive similar threats. The local church must counter those threats with powerful, unified prayer.
Third, Acts 1:14 and 2:1-13 reveal that prayer provided the spiritual environment for the Holy Spirit to inspire and fill believers with power to be witnesses of the gospel. The ministry of sharing God’s Word with an unbelieving world always takes place in the context of spiritual warfare. One major way congregations can help their missionaries be victorious in this conflict is to pray that the presence of the Holy Spirit would fill His servants.
Fourth, Acts 10:1 through 11:18 reveals that prayer prepares both believers and unbelievers for providential encounters and effective evangelistic witness. In the early church, the idea of sharing the gospel message with the Gentiles was a source of contention. Prayer was a key element to overcoming this controversy. Today the controversy no longer exists. Still, missionaries need to be guided by God’s providence to redeem their time for eternal purposes. The local church can support their missionaries by praying that God would superintend their evangelistic relationships and encounters.
Finally, Acts 13:1-4 reveals that prayer played a vital role in the sending of witnesses for the gospel to the world. This Scripture passage is a partial fulfillment of Jesus’ command in Luke 10:2 that believers should pray for additional evangelistic workers to be sent into the world. Although the geography of the world remains basically constant, the world increasing population demands an ever-increasing pool of servant missionaries.
The foundational aspect of prayer in the evangelistic endeavor of the church has not changed. In fact, in a world that continues to exalt sin and self, prayer is needed more than ever. The local church must be held accountable for making prayer an evangelistic priority.