In preparation for the annual New Year's Eve Outreach in 1992, we were praying and asking the Lord what He would have us do as an evangelism strategy. In answer to our prayer, we clearly heard God say, "Pray for people on the street". As we asked God for understanding on how to do this, He gave us the strategy for setting up a Prayer Station and inviting people to stop and receive prayer for their felt needs.
From the first day, people warmly responded and many were ready to receive prayer for their felt needs and subsequently open their hearts to the message of the gospel. This strategy has proved itself to be one of the most effective, powerful and disarming street evangelism methods we have ever been involved in.
Throughout the ministry of Jesus and that of the apostles of the early church, we find an emphasis on prioritizing prayer for the felt needs of people as an initial strategy to reaching their hearts with the gospel. Jesus most often first prayed for a person's felt need then addressed the need of their eternal soul. This was also common in the ministry of Paul, Peter and the other apostles of the first century church.
In Acts chapter 3, Peter and John prayed for the healing of the crippled man at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple. The man is healed and as a result the whole city is impacted with the gospel and the power of God.
Praying for people in the market place was an every day practice of the first century church. The miracles and healings that resulted were used of God to draw attention to the message of the gospel and the real need of the people - their need of a relationship with Jesus.
Most people in the world today are not hungering and thirsting after a spiritual relationship with God, but they all have very real needs they want God to help them with. It might be a healing, a job, a place to live, problems at home, for a member of their family or a close friend. By first addressing their need and believing God to meet their need, their hearts are warmed and opened to hear the gospel and respond.
Much has been discussed about the power of prayer in recent years in magazines and journals, as well as radio and TV. People are aware of the benefits of prayer and are not hostile to the idea of someone praying for their needs.
Praying for people on the street as is done with the Prayer Station Ministry is not a gimmick for the gospel. As was true in the ministry of Jesus and the early apostles, the prayers that were prayed for the unconverted were powerful and effective to meet their needs. So it is important that those Christians that participate in Prayer Evangelism are prepared to believe God for the miraculous. In this Prayer Evangelism method we not only pray for the lost, but with the lost. Prayer becomes something we do not just to prepare for battle, but the battle itself!