A definition for witnessing that I have long used is “sharing Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results to God.” A question that should arise for anyone who would contemplate that statement should be “How can I receive the power of the Holy Spirit?” The answer is one word; prayer. No one should consider sharing anything so important as the good news of Jesus Christ without fervent prayer. I want to divulge a secret on this blog this morning. There have been a few times in my life when I was literally minutes away from standing to preach God’s Word and had no clear direction as to what I should preach. The setting was a time of unusual stress and business. I had tried to prepare, but all roads led to dead ends. In such a situation I am driven to desperate prayer. The first words of that prayer are “I am not worthy to speak your name oh Lord, but I shall soon stand before people who expect to hear from you. Please take my words and make them yours. Fill me with your Spirit and touch hearts with your mighty hand.” I have then walked into the pulpit and been guided to a text, a title, and a Word from God that not only flowed freely, but usually has been commended by hearers as one of my best sermons ever. One could be tempted to do it that way all of the time under such circumstances except for a few facts.
1. I am never not studying. The Holy Spirit needs for us to dilligently search the Scriptures so that in a time of witnessing He can call those Scriptures to our remembrance.
2. Desperate praying as decribed above works just as well when God has already given a text and preparation time.
3. Every time we share with people in our daily lives we are delivering just as important of a message as any sermon anywhere. God cares as deeply for the one person in front of you as for the crowds who hear you. Therefore, desperate prayer is appropriate to prepare us for witnessing opportunities and may be used in a situation of urgency before large gatherings. The longest message recorded in the book of Acts was preached by Stephen just before his martyrdom. I am confident that it was delivered extemporaneously, without notes. I am equally confident that the Holy Spirit illuminated and set ablaze his knowledge of Scripture and allowed his words to flow like a fountain. The same Holy Spirit is with us still.