How to Pray for Your Neighbor’s Salvation

I recently got new neighbors.  They moved in across the way.

I know very little about them at the moment, other than they are Jewish.

At least, that is my best guess based on the mezuzah that is on their door frame.  I am told that the mezuzah holds a small paper scroll with the words of the Shema prayer written on it in Hebrew.  Mezuzahs fulfill the command to keep the laws of God on the doorposts of our homes, and I’ve seen family members touch it each time they walk into their house.

I doubt my first greeting with them will be to talk about Jesus.

But I can begin to pray for them before I have a chance to know them personally.

How can you pray for your neighbors?

How to Pray for Neighbors Salvation

I know there are many different prayer strategies in personal evangelism (listen to this one), such as this one from Colossians 4:3-4

  • “Lord, Open a door.”
  • “Lord, open their heart.”
  • “Lord, open my mouth.”

When I last got new neighbors in 2011, here is what shaped my prayer for my new neighbors.  We are praying along these lines:

  1. That we’d find common ground with our new neighbors
  2. That we’d build a genuine and authentic relationship.
  3. That we’d be part of God’s work in bringing them to Christ.
  4. That if they don’t have a church, that they would become part of ours.
  5. That we’d get to invite them to our church.
  6. That God would draw them to Jesus if that hasn’t happened yet.

Due to the course of life events in both our families, we moved and they moved before we ever had a meal together.

As I step into a new seasons of praying for new neighbors, here are some ideas that are fueling me.

1.  Pray for passion to share the good news

I’m reminded of the Apostle Paul’s  driving passion to share the good news, as spelled out in 1 Corinthians 9:16-23.

For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!  If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me.  What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make full use of my rights as a preacher of the gospel.

Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.  To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law),so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law.  To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

2.  Pray that God would give you divine appointments

Earlier in the Corinthian letter, Paul wrote:

What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, as the Lord assigned to each. (1 Corinthians 3:5)

Paul reminded the Corinthians about how they made their journey to faith over time through various conversational encounters.

Each of those conversational encounters were divine appointments, those prompting a moment that will impact someone’s life in their journey to faith.  I want to give you examples of how this can play out in real life.

Pray for more divine appointments with your neighbor.

3.  Pray that God will keep those neighbors before you.

Your neighbors are not just a nameless class of irrelgious people.

They are not simply “the unsaved.”  Rather, they are individuals with names, stories, hopes, dreams.  They are people that you can grow to love and serve.

You could pray that seeing your neighbors will become a trigger that will prompt you to pray,

Lord use me to share the love of Christ with them.

Lord, use me to invite them to church.

Pray that God would give you the opportunity to invite someone to church this coming weekend.

4.  Pray that you’ll receive the Father’s heart of love.

It’ll be easy to get annoyed with your neighbors when they won’t cut their tree limbs back, or when their dog continues to do its business on your yard.

It’ll become easy to ignore your neighbor if you never interact with them.

It’ll become easy to forget about their spiritual condition once you have spent a good amount of time with them.

Instead of letting business as usual develop, ask the Lord to give you His heart of love for those who don’t know him.

Ask regularly, ask plainly, and ask with great passion.

Ask the Lord for that same compassion Jesus felt that day outside of Jerusalem.

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”  (Matthew 9:36-38)

5.  Pray that you’ll discern their spiritual thirst.

As you pray regularly for your neighbor, you’ll begin to see what the Spirit of God is doing in their life.

You’ll begin to see their spiritual thirst.

Recently, I went on a charter fishing expedition.  The captain looked for clues as we drove to the fishing spots – birds feeding on bait fish.  The birds showed the captain where the small bait fish were swimming near the surface and that was the clue to the likely presence of the bigger fish we would catch.

Spiritual thirst is that clue that will begin to give you a hint of the spiritual hunger that is just below the surface.

In the way I teach personal evangelism, this thirst is what God uses to draw people to himself.  Jesus said:

“If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.” (John 7:37b)

Jesus plainly taught that if anyone wants a relationship with God, it can be obtained.

But notice that this claim to a relationship is specifically addressed only to those who are spiritually thirsty.

Pray that you’ll begin to see it.

I pray for my neighbors.  Will you pray for yours?

Here is the coaching corner.

Are you praying regularly for your neighbors?

Maybe it is time to make a prayer list of every neighbor in your apartment building, condo complex, or cul-de-sac.

Write down their names and set apart time in your devotional times to pray for them.

A Sinner’s Prayer is not The Goal of Evangelism

His prayer 25 years ago failed.

My friend had obediently prayed with the well meaning evangelist.  My friend repeated the phrases the evangelist said, one after the next, confessing his sin, inviting Jesus into his heart.

But nothing happened.

There was no spiritual transaction,  no renewal in his heart, no conviction of sin, and no awareness of the power of God’s grace.

My friend’s life didn’t change.  Twenty five years later, he simply reflects:

[Read more...]

26 Bible Verses about Guidance

Bible Verses on Guidance

Why Bible Verses on Guidance?

One might wonder, why is this set of bible verses is on my website?

I teach primarily on personal evangelism and forms of church evangelism, so what does a list of promises on God’s guidance contribute to that discussion?

The search for Guidance in your unsaved friend can be an indication of their spiritual thirst.

When your friends are making a major decision and talking with you about, knowing these verses might be a handy conversation tool to point them to God’s promises.

One gentleman asked me how I became a preacher and teacher and so I filled that testimony with stories of God’s guidance

You can tell your own testimony experiences (current stories of God’s activity) of experiencing God’s guidance.  You can connect Bible verses like these into your story.

26 Bible Verses, Promises of God’s Guidance

  • Psalm 25:4-5: Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.
  • James 1:5-6: If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
  • Psalm 5:8: Lead me, Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies— make your way straight before me.
  • Psalm 31:3: Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me.
  • Psalm 61:1-2: Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
  • Psalm 143:8: Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.
  • Psalm 16:7-8: I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.  I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
  • John 10:3-4: The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.
  • Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
  • Psalm 32:8-9: I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.
  • Romans 12:1-2: Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
  • Acts 13:2: While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”
  • Psalm 119:105: Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.
  • Psalm 19:8: The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.
  • Acts 17:11: Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
  • Psalm 25:9: He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.
  • Proverbs 2:6-9: For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.  He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones. Then you will understand what is right and just
    and fair—every good path.
  • Philippians 2:13: for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
  • Jeremiah 29:11: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
  • Matthew 7:7-11: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
  • Isaiah 30:21: Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
  • Proverbs 11:14: For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers.
  • Psalm 37:23: The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him;
  • 1 Chronicles 10:13-14: Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord; he did not keep the word of the Lord and even consulted a medium for guidance, and did not inquire of the Lord. So the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David son of Jesse.
  • Proverbs 16:9: In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.
  • Hebrews 11:8: By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.

All verses are from the NIV Bible.

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Overcome Your Evangelism Fears: “I don’t know what to say”

Have you experienced that awkward moment when you have a chance to share your faith and you are paralyzed by fear?

I’ll bet you have.

People have all sorts of fears when it comes to personal evangelism.  Here are 20 evangelism fears that I run into regularly.

At the top of list in my anecdotal research is this one item:

I don’t know what to say.


How “I don’t know what to say” stops us cold

1.  We don’t know all the apologetics.

If you have seen the recent 2014 movie “God is not Dead,” you see a college student in an extreme situation (even if it is hyperbolic exaggeration) where he has to defend his faith in Christ against an atheistic college professor who threatens to flunk him because he is a Christ follower.

In a quick plot development, the student is challenged to present evidence for the existence of God and to do so in front of the class.

I think many Christians would go silent under such pressure.

2.  We don’t have the exact words.

This faulty logic stops us dead in our tracks.

I’ve talked with too many scared evangelists that have an idea that the right words said in the right order will produce the right outcome.

This logic assigns some power to words and some power to our eloquence.

It places 100% of the evangelism conversation on the right use of the right words in the right order, as if our words alone result in the renovation of the human heart.

Faith sharing conversations are not formulaic, but we are obsessed with formulas.

There is no right order to words.

There are no “magic” words of persuasion.

There are no “formulas” to perfect evangelism.

3.  We don’t have a story filled life of following Jesus.

Tragically, if we are not maintaining our relationship with Christ, we’ll miss out on God’s work in our life.

We’ll not be able to see how God is transforming us.

We’ll not see how God is leading us.

We’ll not see what God is teaching us.

We’ll not see how God is using us.

In fact, without nurturing a private devotional life around following Jesus, our exeperience of our faith goes cold.

We have nothing to say about the relevance of following Jesus to modern life.

You can conquer this fear: “I don’t know what to say.”

Most of the faith related evangelism conversations in the ordinary course of my life happen at random moments rather than planned moments.

If I lived in the fear of not knowing what to say, I would miss all these moments.

We must surrender the idea that properly ordered words or every correct answer to every conceivable objection will lead someone to faith.

Rather, we need to have the confidence of Paul as seen in 1 Corinthians 2:4-5 (NIV)

My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.

4 Practices to break through the fear: “I don’t know what to say”

In my own personal evangelism experience, the 4 practices below have helped me overcome the fear of “I don’t know what to say.”

These practices seem like they prepare me for most of the surprise evangelistic conversations that I have (like this one).  You can be ready to share your faith at any moment.

1.  Have current God at work stories, or stories of what God is doing in your life now.

Are you able to tell current stories of God’s activity in your life?

Are you nurturing your devotional life so that God teaches you from his Word?

Are you spending time with Him so that you cultivate the sensitivity to see His Hand at work in your life?

You’ve got to have personal experience with God through Jesus Christ. You’ve got to be growing in that.

Let me give you an example.

Recently, I walked with my friend.  One of the discussion items that came up was the current topic of my small group – how do we live out our faith in the “fear of the Lord?”

After all, Proverbs 1:7 says

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

That opened up nearly an hour long two way conversation that dwelt in themes like:

  • How to develop a relationship with God
  • What about the people who have never heard the gospel?
  • “All religions are true” and why that does not make any sense.
  • How sin affects each person no matter how good they think they are.
  • How Jesus reconciled us to God so that we might have a relationship with Him.
  • How many good works does one have to do to secure the blessing of God and earn a spot in heaven.

2.  Know your own testimony of how you became a follower of Jesus.

Take the time to explore the richness of your own journey to Jesus.

There were significant moments and key events that helped you own your own faith, or see your need to ask God for the forgivess of sin.

Regularly reviewing and then sharing your testimony will often remind you of the preciousness of Jesus.

You’ll find opportunities to explain why you became a follower of Jesus (like I did while sitting by the poolside)

One challenge to shortening a personal testimony is to get at this core question:

What difference has Jesus made in your life?

Here is a free 7 question download you can use to help plan out your testimony

3.  Master a gospel outline.

I recently read Trevin Wax’s book, Counterfeit Gospels.  (Read my review of Counterfeit Gospels)

It’s a good theological study on various different gospel versions that are out there.

He reminds us that we need to know not only the gospel announcement, but the whole story.

My advice here is to find one of the gospel scripts and master it.

Be prepared to share your faith by mastering ahead of time a version of the gospel story.

What version of the gospel story have you mastered?

I develop this further in this article: How to use a gospel script, along with links to various gospel scripts.

4.  Ask for a pause to do some apologetic research when needed.

When it comes to apologetics and reasoning, it is perfectly find to graciously ask for a pause in the conversation so that you can go and do some reading.

I’ve done that before.  I learn more about my own faith when I take the time to do the research needed to develop reasonable answer.  The Christian student in “God is not Dead” took the time to investigate and respond to the professor’s challenge and objections.

Rather than obsess and stop over what I don’t know, I’d rather step into an evangelistic conversation and find the answer later.

Sometimes, apologetic objections have a spiritual thirst (read this story) underneath them.  It is more important to deal with the spiritual thirst than the actual objection.

Other times, apologetic objections are part of a centuries old debate that you will not solve.  While it’s important to have a reason and know the reason for your faith in Christ, some objections remain unsolvable for now.

Get comfortable with that.

Don’t let your inability to answer every possible question stop you from sharing your faith in a conversational manner.

Evangelistic Conversations Are Fun Filled Adventures.

As you talk about your own relationship with Christ with spiritually thirsty people, you will re-discover an element of joy that may have been lost because your devotional life has gone stale.

Evangelistic conversations will  renew in a desire to pray for his discovery of Jesus.

Your devotional life perks up once again when get out there and talk with people.

Sometimes, I want to refresh some reading of books on answering objections or evangelistic conversations, such as God Behaving Badly, or Tactics.

Order an Evangelism Training from me

I offer a virtual seminar on personal evangelism training.  You can use this as an evangelism training event for your team.

It is travel free, and you can offer it on any night that you choose.  If you want this workshop in Spanish, I can do that too.

Read more about how to get your own evangelism training seminar from me.