Try this prayer walk evangelism exercise. [Read more…] about A Sample Prayer Walk for Your Community
Does your devotional life seem a little dull and routine?
Want to spark a fire for a new round of momentum to keep up your spiritual disciplines?
Then make sure you get involved in sharing your faith with people on a regular basis.
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.
When your friend gets clarity on misconceptions about Jesus and you continued to see their renewed interest, you’ll recall the joy of your own discoveries of faith as you came to know the grace of Christ.
But sometimes your friends won’t listen.
When they shut down those conversational doors, you’ll get frustrated at their spiritual blindness (2 Corinthians 4:4).
Since you were once spiritually blind too, then start praying for their spiritual eyes.
When they argue with your presentation of Jesus, you might experience the grief of their current rejection of the savior. Take that to prayer.
When they ask a question you can’t answer or explain, you might experience a desire to find out the answers and grow in your own understanding of your relationship with Christ.
Personal evangelism renews a devotional life.
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’ve never heard the gospel?
- “All religions are true” and why that doesn’t 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.
His spiritual curiosity was fascinating. I enjoyed the “a-ha” moments he found as we talked about the biblical truths and clarified some of his misconceptions.
I found myself renewed in a desire to pray for his discovery of Jesus.
Today, have a conversation with a friend about your faith and put a fresh wave of joy in your devotional life.
Here are some evangelistic conversation starters if you need a little help. Click on the image:
John 12:32 — “I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.”
The verb “draw” signifies something of an attraction that leads to a focus or action, perhaps even a change of direction.
That attraction is fueled by something within each person that begins to see the beauty and wonder of Jesus.
Pray that your friends are drawn to Jesus
As part of the 30 days of prayer in personal evangelism, you are intentionally praying for people you know, by name, who appear to have no evidence of a relationships with Christ. (See 30 days of personal evangelism prayer Day 6 – praying for friends).
Prayer sensitizes you to God’s working in their life.
More particularly, you can begin to pray for visible evidence of spiritual thirst.
Spiritual Thirst is what God uses to draw people
Spiritual thirst is a way of describing a person’s own search for God.
Spiritual thirst is the underlying motive that people have to seek after God, to start and continue their search for God.
It could be
- guilt over sin,
- a longing for honest community,
- be guidance and direction,
- A stark realization that the person has made a giant mess of their life.
The gospel can speak to each one of these.
Jesus knows we have spiritual thirst
“On the last and greatest day of the Feast [of Tabernacles], Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.” (John 7.37)
“If anyone thirsts.”
Jesus plainly taught that if anyone wants a relationship with God, it can be obtained.
But notice that this claim to a relationship here is specifically addressed only to those who are spiritually thirsty.
That thirst is the starting point of a person’s quest to seek God.
That thirst is the restlessness of the human heart that drives one to Jesus.
When you are thirsty, you seek water.
Just as when you are thirsty and seek water, spiritual thirst propels people to search.
Clearly some will search in areas other than Christ. Yet many will start their search for the God that their friend (you) know and follow.
Begin to pray that the Lord will help you see the spiritual thirst of your friends.
“O God, you have made of one blood all the peoples of the earth and sent your blessed Son to preach peace to those who are far off and to those who are near.
Grant that people everywhere may seek after you and find you.
Bring the nations into your fold. Pour out your Spirit upon all flesh, and hasten the coming of your Kingdom through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
— Book of Common Prayer
If you haven’t done so already, read how to Make a Prayer list of friends. Then make one.
You’ll need this list through these 30 days.
As you pray today, ask the Lord to show you what spiritual thirst your friend might have. Make a note of it next to their name.
I take Spanish classes, and in preparation for an upcoming mission in Nicaragua in a few weeks, I’m reviewing the teaching material with my professor.
I am teaching material on prayer, which has been translated from English to Spanish.
I’ve spent 4 hours going over the material with my professor, reviewing it for punctuation, grammar, gender agreement (Spanish uses gender forms in their language, like Latin and Greek do).
I had the opportunity to explain the concept of Christian prayer to someone who isn’t Christian, nor has the vocabulary we Christians so loosely throw around in church.
- Prayer is the vital key to experiencing our relationship with God through Christ.
- Prayer is a love relationship with God.
- Prayer can shape the future (we’ll let the theologians figure out how that works with God’s sovereignty).
Christianesse gets in the way
I faced a few challenges, for example
- Christianese: What is a “prayer burden?”
- Spanish translation: The Spanish word I chose for burden gave my professor the image of me carrying a 20lb sack of potatoes on my shoulder.
So not only was prayer burden a foreign concept, so was the mental image my word choice gave my listener.
In trying to explain such terms, I had the opportunity to tell stories of God’s activity in my life.
In attempting to explain a prayer burden, I got to describe a prayer experience I received while mowing the yard.
I was mindlessly mowing the grass when I felt a sudden and strong impulse to pray for a particular missionary team in China, and then explain how I saw God’s hand in that.
Talk about your relationship with Christ
As we talked more, I went on to explain about my relationship with Christ.
I had a chance to share the gospel because I explained prayer to someone who doesn’t know how to pray or what a prayer burden is
In reviewing my material with my professor, I’ve had many opportunities to share stories of God’s activity in my life.
I am asked all sorts of questions while we work on translating the material. I try to explain the concepts I am teaching about.
All of this gives material for God’s spirit to draw my professor into a relationship with Him. She is on a journey to faith, and I get to plant seeds along the way.
Let me ask you this?
When you share your faith, what kind of Christianese do you use?
In Acts 17:16, Paul is waiting around Athens, waiting for his friends to arrive, passing time doing the tourism thing.
He notices all
- their idols,
- the architecture,
- the statues,
- smells and sounds of the city.
I can imagine the awe he felt at the architecture, the beauty of the art, and how the noises of the city may have reminded him of his own home.
I’ve been a tourist in many a foreign city and always enjoy trying to learn about the culture where I go. I can imagine some of the feelings Paul felt, some of sounds that he heard, and some of the sights and smells he experienced.
Athens Full of Idols
As he wandered around the city, he notices that the city was “full of idols.”
The NIV says he was “Greatly distressed.”
The Greek word implies an emotional reaction to what he saw.
It is used only 2 times in the New Testament (the other time at 1 Cor 13.5).
It means “to be upset, angered, irritated, or distressed” (Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains).
Idiomatically, it can mean “his heart was eating him.”
That’s a large range of emotions.
You can be
- upset with grief,
- angered at a wrong,
- irritated by obnoxious things, or
- distressed with fret.
English gives this word a large range of emotional meaning.
The Burden an Intercessor Feels
But what is clear is that Paul got emotionally worked up, so to speak.
Their spiritual blindness didn’t just bother him, it aroused his passions. I can imagine that as he looked them over, he saw how spiritually thirsty the people were. (See What is Spiritual Thirst?)
I can imagine the burden on his heart. To see these people yearning to know God, yet caught up in idolatry.
I can imagine that Paul,
- who has tasted the joy of the grace of God,
- who had Jesus speak to him on the road to Damascus,
- who enjoys a passionate relationship with God,
- who has known the love of Jesus,
was saddened that these Greeks had not yet discovered the same grace of God.
To see their spiritual blindness must have grieved his heart. That is what I imagine to be his “great distress.”
- A grief that they have not experienced God’s grace.
- A sorrow for their spiritual blindness.
- An holy anger that not enough has been done fast enough to share about Christ.
What I imagine [it’s not in the text between verses 16 and 17] is that this drove Paul to prayer.
- Praying for the gospel to go forth.
- Praying to be used in sharing his faith.
- Praying that their eyes would be open to God’s grace.
- Praying that God would make His offer of grace totally irresistible.
This is what happens to me, which is why I can imagine it happening to Paul.
I associate this grief and distress as an intercessory burden for those who do not know Christ. It fuels me for evangelism, which is what Paul begins to do.
Let me ask you this?
If you know and have experienced the grace of God, does your heart get worked up when you see the spiritual blindness of others? What do you do?
What happens next?
When you start praying for people, you’ll begin to have conversations with them about your faith. This is where many people struggle.
This teaching set (download or DVD) can help you have more effective conversations with people when you discern where they are in their spiritual journey. Knowing where they are can help relieve the pressure of any conversation about Christ. Click the banner to read more on how to get this training to help you have better faith sharing conversations
Image of Athens: Flicker, Microbe