Do you long to see sinners saved through your church? If so, here’s a scripture worth looking at: “The word’s getting out on Zion: ‘Men and women, right and left, get born again in her!’ GOD registers their names in his book: “This one, this one, and this one— born again, right here.” Psalm 87:5, 6.* Can you picture it? God looking around your neighborhood, picking out people to send to your church, where they can find changed lives in Christ. “This one, this one, and this one—born again, right here.”
A few months ago I visited a small church, about 20 attending. Since my last visit there one year before, two or three new people from the community were regularly participating. “How did this come about?” I asked the church leaders. “God sent them,” was the reply. “God picked them out and sent them.”
The other day I was talking with two pastors from a large city church, hundreds attending. The pastors mentioned how delighted they were that a new person approached them after worship the previous week—a woman from the community, previously unknown. She said she wanted to learn about having a changed life and becoming a church member.
Would you like this kind of experience in your congregation? What’s the key?
It has nothing to do with coincidence, and there are times when it has little to do with any special program or outreach. It has everything to do with intention and expectation.
As you plan your worship and ministries, is it your conscious intention to attract and meet the needs of new people whom God might direct your way?
As you conduct your interaction with people, is it your expectation that God will use you to bless others in his name, and lead someone to look into being born again because of your influence?
Intention. Expectation. Too many of us have become so used to things as they are, that we appear to have lost hope for the lost. We need renewed intention, revived expectation!
I was not surprised to learn from the leaders of the small church that they had engaged in sustained prayer that God would send new people to their congregation. They intended, they expected, they prayed. And God responded. It was no surprise, either, to learn that at the large church, prayer warriors met early that morning to intercede with God for at least one person who would come to the congregation and find life with Christ that day, right there. Same dynamic—they intended, they expected, they prayed, and God responded.
“But we’ve prayed like that before,” you might say. “And nothing happened.” So, what’s the solution? To stop praying? To stop intending and stop expecting? To stop hoping, watching and waiting?
We must be faithful in prayer, persistent in prayer, never giving up. We need the spirit of Jacob in our prayers: “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” Genesis 32:26. An important factor is corporate prayer—praying together. Jesus gave the church authority to bind evil and release good. He said that if two or three disciples agree together in his name, he will step in and answer abundantly. Matthew 18:18–20.
Here’s a comment on these verses: “The promise is made on condition that the united prayers of the church are offered, and in answer to these prayers there may be expected a power greater than that which comes in answer to private prayer. The power given will be proportionate to the unity of the members and their love of God and for one another.”**
Let’s regain our intention and expectation. Let’s pray together often. God will respond, and sinners will be born again right here.
* Scripture taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.
** Ellen G. White, Letter 32, 1903. Copyright © 2013 by Ed Gallagher. / Except where otherwise indicated, scripture quotations taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission.