One of the 7 basic habits of personal evangelism can help you identify that a divine appointment is about to happen.
The habit? Look for spiritual thirst.
I have learned to recognize spiritual thirst in how people talk, what they talk about, and how they often initiate discussion with me.
Remember when Philip encountered the Ethiopian Eunuch?
When God “underlined” the eunuch for Philip, (with “Go stand next to THAT chariot”), Philip obeyed and found a spiritually thirsty person. Philip then began a conversation that leads to the eunuch coming to faith.
Our model is to encourage the same.
- Notice the person who God underlines,
- Listen for spiritual thirst
- Engage in a conversation
- Suggest a next step of spiritual growth.
One of the things that is stressed in our teaching is watching for those moments where you can plant a seed in a natural sort of conversation.
Today, I was returning a phone call to a stranger seeking to buy one of my items from craigslist.
We had spoken a few days earlier to make arrangements to pick up the item but plans fell through.
During today’s conversation, I was told that her dad had a medical emergency and that our little transaction was the
“furthest thing from her mind.”
Here was a relational context — we were already conducting a business transaction.
I wasn’t sure if this was sufficient indication of spiritual thirst. However, it did strike me as a time to offer prayer.
Therefore, I took the risk to ask.
I offered to pray with her on the phone.
“I know you don’t know anything about me. Would you like me to pray with you about your Dad?”
“I don’t do the religious thing. Thanks, but no.”
With that, the conversation came to an abrupt and awkward end.
Did I plant a seed? Don’t know.
Did I accomplish anything for the kingdom? Don’t know.
Will my question irritate like salt in a wound? Don’t know.
Did I have an evangelistic moment? Don’t know. It had potential.
Can God do something with it? You bet.
When I offer to pray with people in response to something they have shared with me, usually they accept and I get to pray.
I trust the Spirit of God to show me how to pray and sometimes, the direction of prayer goes straight to the heart.
It often leads to further conversation, and sometimes I’m asked “How did you know to pray for that?” (word of knowledge, perhaps?)
Sometimes, I get to follow up with people and see how things turned out, and have the chance to ask the question:
- “Do you think our praying had anything to do with that?”
- “Could God have answered your prayer?”
That leads to further opportunities and so on.
I’ve learned to take the risk and offer to pray with people when they make small talk about some crisis the story of the life.
Strangers, friends, business partners — doesn’t matter.
I take the risk and ask “Can I pray with you now?”
It may be one piece (of many) that God will use to bring people to Himself and show Himself at work.
You may not know how a person will respond, or where it will go, but the point is, take the risk.
Let me ask you this?
When did you last interrupt your busy day to offer and pray with a person who casually shared a crisis in the story of their life during small talk?
Welcome over here. Thanks for cross posting the link to the discussion going on at OA weblog over my offer to pray.
While it’s clear from the comments over there that this is a different (or as used in the comments — ‘wierd’) approach and a different model than Jim uses, and maybe even make a few of OA readers uncomfortable, my offer to pray is still an ordinary attempt to reach out to someone who has expressed a need in their life.
To be clear, I believe that we must be tactful in all our conversations, as we certianly don’t need to be necessarily obxnious. I also firmly believe that God is more sovereign than any accidental offense.
But, I’m willing to take the risk of offense in an attempt to show that I care.
Most times, people accept my offer to pray with them, Christian or not. It is a way to connect with people, even when its occasionally awkward. It has often led to wonderful follow-up conversations that may help people discover that God is actually at work in their life.
I’m not necessarily against risk-taking and like April, I do respect the courage that takes.
On the other hand I look back at some things I said because I thought I had to try to ‘evangelize’ the other person because God wanted me to do that every time I was talking to someone who wasn’t a Christian – which only resulted in awkwardness and more distance between us. I wish I had simply focused on enjoying the uniqueness of who that person is and the relationship we have (whether it’s quite limited or casual, or whether it’s closer)
Maybe doing that doesn’t count as evangelism. But it’s more fun for both of us.
Anyway, I’m glad you’ve found that offering to pray with people often leads to great follow-up conversations.
I think we both want to be sensitive to the other person that we engage in conversation with.
I certainly want to be an evangelist without being obnoxious, or as Jim says, “not being a jerk.”
Today i ate lunch with another person I had offered to pray with a few weeks ago. I asked him how it felt to be asked to pray with him. He and I met for lunch today for the first time, after
His reply: “It came at just the right time. It showed me that you cared.”
We went on and discussed all sorts of matters of faith. He considers himself a spiritual person.
I never know how my offer to pray might strike a person, but it is an attempt to express care.
Chris, you said you want to be sensitive to others and I believe you.
However – no offense intended, but, if we are saying we find something to be intrusive and you are saying, you’re going to continue doing it regardless – in other words what we say has no effect, how are you being sensitive to us?
If you and I were face to face, and you told me my question was intrusive, I wouldn’t ask you again. That’s how i would be sensitive to you.
However, one’s standard of intrusiveness is seen as a sign of care by others. It won’t stop me from asking others. I don’t know what their response is until I ask the question.
I take the risk of offense instead of always wondering “what if I had . .. “
I think offering to pray with people is a wonderful idea though my natural inclination is to offer to pray for someone. More often than not, I forget. Offering to pray with rather than for someone might catch them off guard but I believe it demonstrates genuine caring and compassion in meeting them where they are with their need.
Offering to pray with someone is a good idea it lets them know that you have trust in God to handle the situation and that you take their burden seriously. If you are not will to pray with someone at least write the conern down so you will not forget about it later.
The power of prayer is incredible! If we go before our Father and pray with the expectation that he will do big things then he will! Taking the risk to pray WITH someone is huge. Whether or not someone is a believer in Christ is not the point when you offer to pray with someone. If they are not a believer then they will more than likely not pray with you which allows you to pray for them. I dont know anyone who would refuse to be prayed for. Not only does it show that you genuinely care about the situation but it also shows that you care about them as people. God will use your words to touch that person in a way that you never could. So, to make a long story short, take the risk! God will do big things because of it!
Man!!! How awesome is that!! I am so encouraged to know that your boldness has provided opportunities to share the love of Jesus Christ. I recently had the blessing of going on a mission trip to Florida to serve college students. However, so many times people discuss the idea that if we do service projects and other acts of love that come from the mind, then we have done our mission. This is so wrong because we have to transfer our knowledge to the heart. Being a Christian is not about a week of service or a big gathering for a revival or some other encouraging event. Although these are good things, being a Christian is about a lifestyle. That lifestyle is to be lived as one of love; to be a workman approved who is not ashamed of the gospel! I have heard the quote “Preach the gospel always, and when necessary, use words. We can’t be ashamed to boldly proclaim the joy that we share in Christ because it is through His love alone that our joy is made complete! For others who may come across this message, it is important for you to know that the name of Jesus is powerful! Yes, it is offensive. Like a double-edged sword, it will pierce the heart. Therefore, use the weapon that the Lord has given us; the weapon of truth. The most powerful witnessing tool that anyone has is his/her own testimony because no one can deny the work of the Lord in one’s life. In knowing what the Lord has completed in us through his son, Jesus, we are blessed to carry the burden of sharing that knowledge with ones that do not know about His love! To Pastor Chris, what a great testimony you have of offering prayer to someone in need. There was a definite seed that was planted…one that is already being taken care of and is being watered by the Holy Spirit! Thank you Pastor Chris for your diligence to the Kingdom!
3 John 1:5-6
p.s. im a friend of Lindsay
I would find it awkward, because I wouldn’t want to hurt your feelings by telling you how completely inappropriate I thought your offer was. So I would probably say, “That’s very kind of you, but no thank you.”
I would feel like you’d embarrassed yourself in public and I’d want to help you to cover that up as much as possible.
I’ve spent time reading the posts on the Internet Infidels board. Thanks for the link-love.
Most of the posters there would either
1). Politely turn down my offer.
2). Have a little fun with me.
Some seem to indicate that it might be a little awkward, some indicate that they think it to be a way of expressing care from my side of the conversation.
One commenter here suggests it totally inappropriate.
What I don’t see is a consensus that it’s rude, intrustive, or offensive unless I know that one is an atheist. And in that case, I would agree.
Much as in my comment to you about being sensitive. If you turned my offer down, that’s the end of the matter. It’s a boundary I respect.
Chris, thanks for going to read the IIDB comments and for respecting peoples’ boundaries.
You raise a good point that it’s different if you know someone is an atheist.