James 5:16 "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."

How powerful is prayer? How effective is prayer?

ILL.- In 1872 the famous American preacher, Dwight L. Moody, went to England, not to preach, but to listen to others preach. One Sunday morning he was asked to preach in a London pulpit. But somehow the right spiritual atmosphere was not there. He confessed afterwards that he never had such a hard time preaching. Everything seemed dead. He said to himself. "What a fool I was to consent to preach. I came here to listen and here I am preaching."
Then the awful thought came to him that he had to preach again that night, and only the fact that he had given his promise to do so kept him faithful to the engagement.
But when Moody stepped into the pulpit that night and faced the congregation, he was conscious of a new atmosphere. He said, "The powers of an unseen world seemed to have fallen on the audience." As he concluded his message and offered the invitation, he said, "If there is a man or woman here tonight who will accept Jesus Christ, please stand up." AND ABOUT 500 PEOPLE STOOD UP! Now for the rest of the story! Or the story behind the story.

When Dwight L. Moody preached at that morning service there was a woman in the congregation who had an invalid sister at home. When she returned home she told her invalid sister that the preacher had been Mr. Moody from Chicago. "What!" she exclaimed, "Mr. Moody from Chicago! I read about him some time ago in an American newspaper, and I have been praying for God to send him to London, to preach in our church. If I had known he was going to preach this morning I would have eaten no breakfast. I would have spent the whole time in prayer. Now, sister, go out of the room, lock the door, send me no dinner. And no matter who comes, don’t let them see me. I am going to spend the whole afternoon and evening in prayer."
DOES IT DO ANY GOOD TO PRAY FOR PEOPLE? What do you think? Perhaps we need to spend more time in prayer and less in eating! More time believing and less straying! We must pray! We must pray for people most of all!

If we pray long enough, hard enough, fervent enough, and faithful enough God will change some things for the better! Never doubt. Never doubt the power of God or the power of prayer! We must pray unceasingly!

II. WE MUST LIVE RIGHTEOUSLY:

I Timothy 2:2b, "that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty."

God wants us to be godly people, holy people.

I Peter 1:15-16,

"But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy."


I Peter 2:12 says, "Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation."

Colossians 3:1-3 says,

"If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God."

Romans 6:11-12 says,

"Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof."

The only way that we can live holy lives in this present evil world is to die to self and reckon ourselves dead to sin.


1- We must pray unceasingly

2- We must live righteously

III. WE MUST EVANGELIZE FERVENTLY:

I Timothy 2:3-4,

"For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth."

II Peter 3:9, "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."

God wants all people to be saved, not just a select few. Evangelism is presenting the gospel to all people with the hope that perhaps they will come to trust in Him and be saved.

ILL.- Leighton Ford, one of Billy Graham’s associate, said one time, "I was speaking at an open-air crusade in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Billy Graham was to speak the next night and had arrived a day early. He came incognito and sat on the grass at the rear of the crowd. Because he was wearing a hat and dark glasses, no one recognized him.

"Directly in front of him sat an elderly gentleman who seemed to be listening intently to my presentation. When I invited people to come forward as an open sign of commitment, Billy decided to do a little personal evangelism. He tapped the man on the shoulder and asked, "Would you like to accept Christ? I’ll be glad to walk down with you if you want to.’ The old man looked him up and down, thought it over for a moment, and then said, ‘Naw, I think I’ll just wait till the big gun comes tomorrow night.’

It underlines how, in the minds of many people, evangelism is the task of the ‘Big Guns,’ not the ‘little shots.’"

Evangelism is the job of every Christian! It matters not whether we are considered to be a "big gun" or a "little shot."


ILL.- One time many years ago preacher Dwight L. Moody was criticized because of the evangelistic methods he used. Moody replied, "I like my way of doing it better than your way of not doing it."

The sad truth is most Christian people do little or nothing to present a witness for the Lord Jesus Christ. While the unbelieving world is shouting out its message, we go to church but do little outside the church to spread the message of Christ.

A recent poll says that 95% of all Christians never try to lead anybody to Christ in their entire lifetime! That means that 5% of all Christian people do 100% of the work of evangelism.

IN WHICH GROUP ARE YOU?

The Lord doesn’t expect us to do everything, but He does expect us to do something. He expects us to be more alert to the opportunities around us to witness for Christ.

I Pet. 3:15 "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:"

ILL.- One Sunday as they drove home from church, a little girl turned to her mother and said, "Mommy, there’s something about the preacher’s message this morning that I don’t understand." The mother said, "Oh? What is it?" The little girl replied, "Well, he said that God is bigger than we are. He said God is so big that He could hold the world in His hand. Is that true?"
The mother replied, "Yes, that’s true, honey."

"But Mommy, he also said that God comes to live inside of us when we believe in Jesus as our Savior. Is that true, too?" Again, the mother assured the little girl that what the pastor had said was true. With a puzzled look on her face the little girl then asked, "If God is bigger than us and He lives in us, wouldn’t He show through?"

If God is on the inside of us, He will show through to the outside! If the fire of Christ is burning on the inside of us, then that fire will spread to the outside and to those around us. We must constantly look for opportunities to witness, to testify, to invite, to encourage, and point people to Christ! We must evangelize fervently!

CONCLUSION:

ILL.- When George Bush 41 was our Vice President he represented the U.S. at the funeral of former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. Bush was deeply moved by a silent protest carried out by Brezhnev’s widow. She stood motionless by the coffin until seconds before it was closed. Then, just as the soldiers touched the lid, Brezhnev’s wife performed an act of great courage and hope. She reached down and made the sign of the cross on her husband’s chest.
Apparently, she hoped that there was another life, and that life was best represented by Jesus who died on the cross, and that the same Jesus might yet have mercy on her husband.

The truth is that Christ is the only hope for anybody and for any country! Including America! And we as believing Americans must do whatever we can so that God can continue to bless America as we pray unceasingly, live righteously, and evangelize fervently.