“What the church needs today is not more or better machinery, not new organizations, or more novel methods; but men whom the Holy Spirit can use – men of prayer, men mighty in prayer.” – E.M. Bounds
The more we engage with unbelievers, skeptics, and a confused, chaotic culture, the more we become desperately aware that even our best intellectual efforts and most skilled rhetoric are not enough to change anything.
These difficulties drive us to pray.
We find that we need God, quite literally, every hour. But, beyond that kind of organic, need-based prayer, there may be some helpful ways for apologists to practice the discipline of prayer. What follows is my current seven-fold prayer strategy, focused specifically on my apologetics endeavors. I hope you’ll find something helpful:
#1. Truth – Take time to Celebrate the Great Truths of God
#2. Praise – Build Altars of Praise for Good News
#3. Hope – Cultivate Hope
#4. Comrades – Lift up Fellow Apologists
#5. The “Jury” – Intercede for specific Skeptics and Seekers
#6. Today’s Battles – Do Battle for the Issues and Opponents of the Gospel
#7. Society and Government – Pray for Revival Conditions
#1. Take time to Celebrate the Great Truths of God
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness. Psalm 29:2
Of all people, we who spend so much time immersed in the great truths of God and know intimately how solid and wonderful they are, should be worshipers and praisers. We should begin by “setting apart Christ as Lord in our hearts.” Paul, the apostle, models this throughout his writings – he begins with lofty theological statements and soon loses himself in worship. He knew the truth later recognized in the Westminster Catechism: the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.
I don’t know about you – but passages like Romans 8 or Ephesians 1 have me on my feet cheering by the end! Here’s a treat: listen to John Piper recite Romans 8 or hear him plead for us to understand the supremacy of the knowledge of Jesus.
#2. Build Altars of Praise for Good News
Apologetics ministry can be incredibly draining to the mind and spirit. Building memorial altars can help us remember why we do it and spur us on to keep going. Altars can be symbolic artifacts – or simple lists. Some lists might be: victories for truth and justice; conversion stories; and testimonies of the faith-building effects of apologetics.
#3. Cultivate Hope
Just as a bride keeps a hope chest in anticipation of a glorious future, so we, the Bride of Christ, can prepare and wait and ponder in our hearts the wonderful promises of our Groom!
If we want people to ask us to give a reason for the hope that is in us, it seems reasonable that we should cultivate hope. Perhaps there are a set of Scriptures and truths about our hope that we can pray regularly? After all, we have a robust hope, an anchor for the soul! We serve the God of hope! Immersing ourselves in Biblical hope is a practical way to live hope-saturated lives. In today’s nihilistic culture, this itself will be a powerful witness.
“A man can’t be always defending the truth; there must be a time to feed on it.” C.S. Lewis
It’s true that Apologists have a prophetic role in warning the culture, but we needn’t always be weeping prophets, and our posts needn’t all be laments. For the long haul, I submit that joy and hope will fuel the heart better than despair. (I preach here to myself…)
“The joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10
#4. Lift up Fellow Apologists
I am encouraged by the sacrifices and efforts of faithful fellow apologists – I thank my God for them. I also intercede for them – for protection, discernment, humility, and gentleness.
For apologetics ministries, pray regularly for spiritual fruit and financial provision. Pray that they will seek and find wisdom, have creative ideas, and develop creative tools to reach many people. Time is running out.
For a convenient list, here’s a Directory of Christian Apologetics Blogs maintained by Brian Auten at apologetics315.com.
P.S. Consider putting feet to these prayers – maybe send a note of encouragement or appreciation, or buy your favorite apologist a cup of coffee.
Pray also that God would raise up many more “One-dollar apologists.” Pray that the church would wake up to the need for apologetics training in all its discipleship programs.
#5. F Intercede for specific Skeptics and Seekers
J. Warner Wallace teaches the critical importance of selecting the right audience (or “jury”) for our apologetics endeavors. There is little point engaging with people who’ve already made up their minds before the evidence is in.
Pray that God will bring across your path and into your mind those who are seeking truth and open to the evidence you have prepared. Pray that He will burden you with people to engage, and give you boldness and wisdom to do it. Pray for seekers to find the truth and to have access to something that communicates the truth to them in ways they can understand.
#6. Do Battle for the Issues and Opponents of the Gospel
Pray for issues and and enemies of Christ. Pray for news events and the things in your news feed; pray the blogs you read. Pray before you post – we study all these and we craft responses and rebuttals – but perhaps we’re not so good at pausing to pray first. And, when we do, perhaps we would do better to pray with more compassion than outrage at the injustices or lies. (Um…) Perhaps we might remember that people do not have hope, and that they are captives of sin. Jude wrote that we should “have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.”
We should also pray with boldness for the big issues of our day: generations past were able to turn the tide on impossible situations. We serve the same, unchangeable, Sovereign, prayer-hearing God.
#7. Pray for Revival Conditions
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
1 Timothy 2:1-4
We would be wise to pray for our milieu – for just laws, for freedom to proclaim the Gospel, for favor in society. As the culture grows more hostile to Christianity and even the idea of Truth, our most effective and most reliable weapon is prayer. We might pray that reason would return to a culture gone mad, just as it did to King Nebuchadnezzar after his seven years of insanity.
At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever,
for his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
and his kingdom endures from generation to generation;
all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
and he does according to his will among the host of heaven
and among the inhabitants of the earth;
and none can stay his hand
or say to him, “What have you done?”
At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my majesty and splendor returned to me. My counselors and my lords sought me, and I was established in my kingdom, and still more greatness was added to me. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble. Daniel 4:34-37