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THE FLOCK GROWS THROUGH THE POWER OF PRAYER

The Rev. Ron Burgio is an alumnus of Elim Bible Institute, a graduate of Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester and has a doctorate of ministry from the School of Bible Theology in San Jacinto, Calif. He has been in full-time ministry since 1978 and has been pastor since 1984 of Love Joy Gospel Church in Lancaster.

During the height of the Vietnam war, the U.S. Army activated me from the National Guard into active duty. At that time I was rebellious. I was in the drug and hippie culture, and, even though I was in the service, I was active in the antiwar movement.

While on leave in Buffalo, I bumped into an old friend of mine, Tom Giambra. Tom knew my lifestyle because my twin brother and I had often taken him out drinking, and we had gotten him into all sorts of trouble. He began to talk to me about Jesus. I just blew him off. I didn't want to hear it.

I found out later that, from that day on, Tom prayed for me every day. He assumed I would end up in Vietnam, and he prayed that I would get saved. Within a year, I actually did get saved. At 24 years of age, I wholeheartedly asked God to forgive me and to come into my life through a personal relationship with his son, Jesus. When I found out that Tom had been praying for me, I was so grateful, because my heart had been so hard toward God.

What is prayer evangelism? Prayer is simply talking and listening to God. Evangelism is the proclaiming of the good news that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, that he died on the cross, he was buried, and on the third day he rose again.

Prayer evangelism is talking to God about our family members, friends and associates. Jesus said in John 6:44, "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him." Prayer evangelism is asking God to draw people into a relationship with himself.

The first two chapters of the Book of Acts are a great case study for prayer, power and results. Jesus told his disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the promised outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 1:8 reads: "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come

upon you: and you shall be witnesses to me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the Earth." In Acts 1:12 and 14, the disciples did as Jesus instructed them: "Then they returned to Jerusalem . . . These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication . . . " The disciples prayed in one accord in the upper room daily for 10 days until the day of Pentecost.

Then in Acts 2:1-2: "When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting."

The disciples were empowered before they began to evangelize anyone. We can't evangelize or witness without the help of the Holy Spirit. Some people are very positive. They have a great attitude, but they wonder why they can't share their faith very well. It's because they need the power of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 2:38-41 continues: "Then Peter said to them, 'Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.' And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, 'Be saved from this perverse generation.' Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about 3,000 souls were added to them."

What a remarkable transformation. Fifty days earlier these same men had cowered in a locked room because they were afraid (John 20:19), but they had the sense to pray, and now they stood and proclaimed the Gospel to the same people who had frightened them before.

Let's look at the whole process: They waited on God, they prayed, they were filled with the Holy Spirit, boldness came upon them, they preached the Word and 3,000 people got saved. Wouldn't it be amazing to see 3,000 people get saved in one day in Buffalo?

Acts 2:42 reads: "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers."

Did they stop praying? No, they continued and as a result, the apostles performed miracles, the Christians were unified, they shared their possessions with the poor, they continued to worship daily, they met in homes for fellowship, they won the favor of the people in Jerusalem and they saw people come to believe in Jesus every day.

We need to pray for results, and not just pray, "Lord, bless me and bless my household." We need to believe God that when we pray, he is going to answer.

The disciples prayed powerfully and God moved powerfully. We have to trust God to add our household to his family. You may say, "I've been praying for so long." I say, pray a little longer; believe a little more.

John 15:16 reads: "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you".

If you ask, he will do it. He did it for Tom, who prayed for me those many years ago, and he's done it for me throughout the years since then.

If you would like to invite Christ into your life, you can pray something like this: Jesus, I am a sinner. I ask you to forgive my sins and give me eternal life. I receive you as my Lord and Savior, and commit my life to you. Thank you for the forgiveness of my sins and for eternal life.

If you wish to suggest a local clergy man or woman of any faith whose sermon could be included on this page, contact Paula Voell at The Buffalo News, P.O. Box 100, Buffalo, N.Y. 14240; call 849-4457, or e-mail pvoell@buffnews.com

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