2 Timothy 4:1-5
Paul, writing one of his very last letters addressed to his dear friend and partner in ministry, exhorts Timothy:
“I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”
We see from this exhortation that Paul desired Timothy to be an evangelist and preach the word to others. Let us examine who exactly an evangelist is. We know that an evangelist is a man of prayer who realizes that work is all of God, and that methods are of little worth. He is also a man of faith who relies wholly on the living God. He is student of Scripture whose only desire is to present the truth. He is additionally a man of courage, fearing not the darts of evil, nor the bonds of imprisonment. He is a man of energy who is constantly in touch with God and man, both in and out of season. An evangelist is also a man of perseverance who does not get discouraged if he fails to see immediate fruit for his labor. Lastly, he is a man of humility, who admits, “Not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” (1 Corinthians 15:10)
Let us look for a moment at the act of prayer in the life of an evangelist after God’s own heart. In the poem below, source unknown, we find the mystery of the power of prayer in each of us:
Daily communion with God would find us -
Subdued by His Omnipresence,
Staggered by His Omnipotence,
Silenced by His Omniscience,
Solemnized by His Holiness,
Subdued by His glory.
Let us be encouraged by the story of a model evangelist after God’s own heart, John Hyde, who was a missionary to India. His prayer time was sacred and holy. It is said that one could hear sighing and groaning from his room as tears coursed down his cheeks. Sometimes his body would be weakened by foodless days and sleepless nights. He often pleaded with God, “Oh God, give me souls or I die.” John Hyde prayed for one soul each day to come to know the Lord. Eventually, God answered his prayer. Four hundred souls were saved his first year of ministry in India; in subsequent years of his life, as many as 1,680 souls were saved. But was he satisfied? Never. He had an unsatisfied longing and an undying passion for souls to come to understand the love of his Savior, Jesus Christ.
Another well-known missionary to the New Hebrides Islands in the Pacific, John G. Paton, was a humble man of God who knelt at the grave of his young wife only a few months after arriving, yet he still claimed the land for Christ as he served the Lord in proclaiming the gospel. Beloved, we should all ask God to give us the zeal that burns like fire within us and drives us to seek men for Christ! If we examine the disciples, what did they ask the Lord to teach them? It was not how to cast out demons, heal the sick, still the storm, or how to perform miracles, rather it was how to pray! (See Luke 11) When they saw and heard Him pray, they realized that the life of power was the product of His life of prayer. Let us also look at the example of John Knox in his powerful prayers. It was said that the Queen of England would tremble when John Knox went to his knees, because he prayed with such power that Scotland was awakened and diverted from following the traditions of Roman Catholicism. He prayed with such intensity and power, for example, when he said, “Lord give me Scotland or I die.”
In the church today, there seems to be a deplorable lack of intense prayer and very little real waiting upon God. The time has come when we must see prayer as fundamental and foundational or we will continue to drift. To avoid this drift, many assemblies are trying all kinds of programs. Let us remember that God does not bless through programs, but through holy men of prayer seeking to “do the work of an evangelist” for the gospel of our Lord Jesus.