A recent study by Lifeway Research discovered some findings that have caught my attention. The researchers learned that 56 percent of Protestant churchgoers pray at least weekly for opportunities to tell others about Jesus. Frankly, I find that percentage higher than I would have assumed, but I’m grateful for those who are at least thinking about evangelism.
At the same time, though, less than half (45%) of the respondents say they’ve shared with someone how to become a Christian in the last six months. Apparently, some of the folks stop their evangelism with their praying for opportunities. Thus, here are some ways to move from praying to proclaiming:
- Get others to pray Ephesians 6:18-20 and Colossians 4:2-4 for you. The latter includes a prayer for opportunities to share the gospel (which many of the survey respondents are doing), but the texts also include a prayer to speak the gospel boldly and clearly. Paul’s prayer requests do seek open doors, yet they don’t stop there. We must speak up when the door is open—and we need God’s help to take that step. Prayer brings that help.
- Pray not just for opportunities, but for opportunities to speak with particular non-believers. A generic prayer of “Lord, please help me to speak to someone today” is a great start, but a prayer of “Lord, help me to speak to _____________ today” reflects a more focused burden. And, you’ll watch for specific opportunities with that person if you’ve prayed that way.
- Begin speaking a good word about God to somebody each day. All of us have experienced God’s blessings at some level, and we can speak of His goodness. If you begin speaking about Him to somebody each day (including another believer), you’ll be more likely to speak to non-believers, too. Try this step—every day!
- Under God’s leadership, create opportunities even as you pray for them. Invite a non-believer to lunch, and plan to tell him or her the gospel. Write your testimony, send it to a lost friend, and invite him to talk. One of my current practices is simply to ask, “I’m a follower of Jesus, and one of the things we do is tell others what He means to us. May I take five minutes to tell you my story?” If the person grants me permission (and it does happen), the door is open.
- Build the gospel story around your testimony. You have a story, and it’s uniquely yours. Nobody can tell it like you can. You alone can talk about, like the apostle Paul did of his own life in Acts 26, your life before Christ (vv. 4-11), how you came to know Christ (vv. 12-18), and how your life has changed since meeting Christ (vv. 19-23). Use this Acts 26 outline, and move from praying for non-believers to proclaiming the gospel to them.
Readers, let’s use this post to pray for others with whom we want to share the gospel. For example, I want to meet with a former trainer to talk more about the good news. Let us know how we might pray for you, too.