Last Sunday as I was preaching I was strangely aware that others were praying for me. I usually feel this when I am travelling on a missions/ministry trip and I have particularly asked for prayer. I sometimes sense it when I am preaching in my home pulpit, but not often. Last Sunday though, we had many people who had invited their friends to church. In the Gospel stories we read that as people heard Jesus minister around the shores of Galilee, they then went and brought their hurting, broken, lame, wounded friends to come and hear Him for themselves.

And great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute, and many others, and they put them at his feet, and he healed them, so that the crowd wondered, when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled healthy, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they glorified the God of Israel.
Matthew 15:30-31

It is my prayer that we too will see the hurting, damaged, sick, lonely, unwell, of our community come to meet Jesus and that they too will discover that Christ still heals hearts, minds, bodies, and souls today. Perhaps because some of you did have your hurting friends there last Sunday morning, you were particularly praying for God to speak to them and touch them. I know you were. I felt it.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a Pastor’s deskpiece called For The Love Of Pete in which I marvelled that Jesus Himself prayed for Peter to withstand the sifting of Satan. Christ believed, and acted on that belief, that prayer changes people! Wow! As I read through the New Testament I discover that at every stage of growth through the book of Acts the Church prayed vigorously for God to touch, heal, change, and save people – and He did! The Apostle Paul request that the believers in Colosse pray this for him as well-

At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison—
Colossians 4:3

Of all the things that Paul could have asked prayer for – his imprisonment, relief from his mistreatment by his captors, his lack of warm clothing or sufficient food – he asks believers to pray that he might have an open door to share the Gospel with others! He didn’t need their money. He didn’t need their blankets. He didn’t need their food. He needed prayer! The New Testament teaches believers that we have at our disposal the most powerful yet least used weaponry the universe has ever seen! Where people have closed the doors of their hearts to God, we can use this weaponry and pray them open! Where cities and towns have closed the doors of their hearts to God, we can pray these closed doors open! Where churches have closed their doors to Christ (and therefore the unreached), we can pray their doors open!

History tells us two things about the connection between praying for Gospel effectiveness and ‘revival’. Firstly, a church in revival is a church that prays vigorously for the Gospel to be effective in reaching and transforming people. Secondly, a church can only come into revival when it prays.

We can only ever hope to reach the hurting, broken, confused, damaged people of our community if we will pray for the Gospel to be effective in reaching and transforming them. Please pray that these precious friends, family, colleagues open their hearts to Christ and that our worship and proclamation of Him is effective in reaching, saving, healing, and transforming them.

At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison—
Colossians 4:3

Amen.