THE MEETING FOR PREACHING THE GOSPEL
Scripture Reading: Isa. 45:11
We have much to learn and practice concerning the preaching of the gospel. We will first consider the way to invite people to be saved. Some may say that this is very simple; it requires no training, and we know it already. Yes, we may know something about it, but there is a better technique for our practice.
PRAYING WITH LIVING FAITH TO COMMAND THE LORD
First of all, we must trust in the Lord. We cannot do anything independent from the Lord. When we prepare to invite people, we must have adequate prayer about it. We need to pray to seek the Lord’s mind concerning whom we contact. Then we must pray for the persons whom we feel the Lord is leading us to invite. We must remember them, bringing their names to the Lord day and night. We need to pray in a prevailing way. Isaiah 45:11 says, “Thus says Jehovah, / The Holy One of Israel and the One who formed him, / Ask Me about the things to come concerning My sons, / And concerning the work of My hands, command Me.” In this verse the Lord gives us the ground to command Him. In a sense, He says, “I am your Servant. Give Me the order.” We must learn to pray in this way, saying, “Lord, while I am here remaining with You and looking to You, I tell You that You have to do something.”
There is the mysterious principle of faith in the universe. Faith honors the Lord, so the Lord always honors faith. To not have a living, prevailing, and powerful faith means that either we depend on ourselves or that we have an evil heart of unbelief. However, if we would not trust in and depend on ourselves, and if we believe, we will have the living faith to claim something, to command the Lord to do something. To command the Lord to do something means that we do not trust in ourselves and that we believe; the Lord will honor this faith. We need to pray in this way. All kinds of doubts come from the enemy. We must learn to believe and exercise a living faith.
Learn to pray for your contact with people, and learn to see how the Lord answers your prayer. Tell the Lord, “Lord, I need to see that You have saved at least one person I have prayed for.” Tell this to Him definitely, challenging Him a little. Then you will see that He will come in. We can even say, “Lord, while I am praying here, at this very minute, You must work in the heart of the person for whom I am praying. I am waiting to hear a testimony from him that something happened within him at this very day, hour, and minute.” Learn to prove the Lord, not as the people of Israel did in the wilderness with an evil heart of unbelief, but with a believing heart. If we have the living faith in prayer, we will have an impact in preaching. When we come to our friend, we will have the impact because we have prayed. Since we have commanded the Lord, we come to him with impact and assurance to tell him that he must be saved. This is the way to invite people. Luke 14:23 says that a master told his slaves not merely to invite but to compel people to come to his great dinner. Some versions translate compel as “force” or “constrain.” We have to compel, force, press, and constrain people to come.
PRAYING WITH FASTING TO HAVE AN IMPACT
Before a meeting for preaching the gospel, we must find the way to contact the person or persons for whom we have been praying, either by phone or face to face, and on the day before the preaching, we should confirm that he is coming. Then on the morning of the preaching, we should fast. This is not something legal, but I believe it will please the Lord. If we mean business, we will not break our fast in the morning; we will keep our fast in order to pray. When Brother Watchman Nee was young and still in college, he fasted for all three meals on Saturday. He practiced this for over a year in order to pray, study the Word, and remain with the Lord. Then on the Lord’s Day he went to preach. His preaching was powerful with a real impact.
If we mean business with the Lord, He will mean business with us also, and we will have the impact. However, if we are indifferent with our preaching, the Lord will also be indifferent. The Lord can never work something out through lukewarm people; we must be cold or hot to the uttermost. We need to be “boiling” to the point that we “burn” people. How can we be boiling? It is by prayer and, if possible, though not in a legal way, by fasting. We should be burdened to fast and pray on the morning of our preaching. We may pray, “Lord, the persons I have named before You so many times must be saved today. That is why I am here fasting. I have no interest in eating; I am already filled by this burden. I am full of Your work, so I have no interest and no capacity for eating.” If we do this, we will see the impact and the answers to our prayers. If we pray and fast, then our day of preaching will be a day for crossing a boundary line. Before the day of Pentecost the disciples prayed for ten days. They did not do anything in those ten days but pray. We can see the impact of their preaching.
After fasting and praying, before the meeting we should go to bring the persons we have prayed for. It is better to go to them; we should not trust them to come or merely believe their promise to come. Many times our friends give us a promise in a polite way, but after the meeting they apologize and give an excuse for why they did not come. Rather, we should go to them to bring them and accompany them. Compel them to be saved. This is our regular duty and responsibility. From this time, if the Lord wills, we should do this every month until He comes. Every month we should preach the gospel.
Some say that it is too much to expect one hundred persons to be brought in. In the sense of unbelief, I agree with this. However, if we will all fast for one meal a day until the meeting for preaching the gospel, two hundred people may be saved. This depends not only on the Lord but very much on us and how we cooperate with the Lord. If we do not believe, and we all say, “Oh, that is impossible; let us forget about that and go to sleep,” then not one person will be saved through us. This depends on how we cooperate with the Lord, with the church, and with one another.
(Preaching the Gospel in the Way of Life, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)