PRAYER- AN EFFECTIVE DOOR OPENER
“Is there anything that you need prayer for in your life today?”
I cannot tell you how many doors that have opened by asking that simple question. Offering to pray for people has been one of the most effective ways that I have seen natural evangelism take place. There are multiple ways to incorporate this into everyday life. Here are a few examples:
In a restaurant:
Your waitress comes to take your order. You can simply say, “We are Christians, and we are going to pray over our meal. Is there anything in your life that you need prayer for?” If she gives you something to pray about, ask, “Can we pray with you really quick?” Often, they will allow you to unless they are really busy. I always try to include, “Help Dianne to know how much you love her and that you died on a cross for her.” It gives a chance to share a brief Gospel message, just in case there is no further conversation afterwards.
Walking around the mall with a friend:
You take some time to approach people and simply say, “Hey, my friend and I are walking around seeing if we can pray for anyone. Is there anything in your life that we can pray for?” You would be surprised at the fact that some people will immediately share something that is going on in their lives. Then ask them if it would be alright to pray with them. Afterwards, you can use that to ask more questions.
People you run into:
I was in the gift shop of a hotel recently, and as we made our purchase, I struck up a conversation with the clerk. I felt the impression that I needed to pray for her. So, I simply told her, “I know this might sound crazy, but I’m a Christian and I just had the impression that I should offer to pray for you. Is there anything that you need prayer for?” She immediately shared with me about a surgery that she had been putting off because she was afraid of being out of work for so long. We prayed together and I was glad that I took the time to ask.
There are so many opportunities to practice this approach. I have prayed for people in all kinds of situations. I’ve prayed for co-workers, people at bus stations, even salespeople who have knocked on the door of our house. Of course, not everyone will accept prayer or even appreciate the offer. But I have had so many God-encounters with people through this simple approach.
There are multiple reasons why offering to pray for people is so valuable. Here are five reasons to include offering to pray in your EvangeLIVING strategy:
1.) Prayer Opens Spiritual Conversations
When you offer to pray for someone, it provides a natural pathway into talking about spiritual things. You can often discover quite a bit about where someone is spiritually by their reaction to the question. Often, they will volunteer information that they might not otherwise share freely. On a recent ministry trip, I was at a restaurant with some friends, and when I offered to pray for our waiter, he immediately said, “I don’t believe in God.” That opened up an opportunity to share some of my testimony with him. It was the offer to pray that created a natural transition into a spiritual conversation.When you offer to pray for someone, it provides a natural pathway into talking about spiritual things. Click To Tweet
2.) Prayer Requires No Preparation
Often, when I go out with someone with the intention of sharing the Gospel, I will make sure to have some New Testaments or tracts that I can hand them. But when it comes to everyday encounters, these are not always at my disposal. This is a practical reason that prayer is such a great tool. Offering to pray for people is something you can do anywhere and at any time.
Many times, when I am having a conversation with an unbeliever, I listen for their needs. They might share about a health problem or needing a job or some other situation in their life. At the end of the conversation, I’ll say, “I know you are dealing with this situation. Could I pray about this with you?” You would be surprised at how many will allow you to pray for them, even if they feel like they are just humoring you. Regardless of their reaction, if they open the door, I will take the opportunity and go to the Lord on their behalf.
3.) Prayer Helps People Let Their Guard Down
Praying for someone is one of the purest expressions of love. Often when people are approached by Christians who try to share the Gospel with them, I fear they feel more like they are being encountered by salespeople who want to extract something from them. Prayer does just the opposite. So many times, people are taken back by it. They’ll say, “You want to do what?” It surprises me how many people are shocked by the fact that I just want to pray for them. And they often let their guard down when they realize that you want nothing from them, but rather simply want to be a blessing to them. And that has a unique way of opening their hearts.
4.) Prayer Reveals the Heart
Sometimes, it can be difficult to get past surface-level conversations with people, especially if they are strangers. People tend to be skeptical when someone they don’t know wants to strike up a conversation. They are waiting for the “catch.” So, getting from introducing yourself, to having a conversation about the condition of their soul, can seem like an insurmountable task. But when you offer to pray for them—if they are willing to share a need—it tends to bring the conversation to the next level of depth. They might have recently been diagnosed with cancer or have a loved one in the hospital. They might be dealing with addiction, or any number of things. Asking to pray for them gives you an opportunity to hear what is really happening in their lives and reveals what is most important to them. Then, after praying for them, it allows you an opportunity to minister to them with encouragement for that specific need.
5.) Prayer Invites God Into A Person’s Situation
One of the criticisms that might be mentioned about simply praying for people is the question of what value is there in praying for someone, especially if you may never see them again. First, as already mentioned, prayer is a tool that can open a spiritual conversation with someone. If they refuse the prayer, or they don’t want to talk about anything else, then what good is it? Well, for one thing, it leaves the person with the experience of being loved by a believer with no strings attached. That alone can be a seed planted that leads to a more openness to the Gospel in the future. But the one thing that we need to remind ourselves of is the power of prayer itself.
What if we meet someone, pray with them, walk away and then God answers the prayer? What if they meet us and God heals their body or the body of one of their loved ones? What if we pray for their financial situation, and something immediately changes? What if we ask the Lord to reveal Himself to them, and they have an encounter with Him that forever changes their lives? People will remember the fact that we prayed and when they see God move in their lives, it will be a powerful testimony of a God who loves them.This is where faith is required in EvangeLIVING. We have to train ourselves to allow the Holy Spirit to do what only He can do. Click To Tweet
It usually does not take too long in a conversation to determine where someone is. Asking probing questions can help to gauge where to start with someone. One question that I have found to be helpful is: “Has anyone ever shared the Gospel with you?” Usually, this will prompt a person to say, “Oh yea, I grew up in church,” or “What is the Gospel?” Either of these responses would lead the conversation in a different direction.
This is where faith is required in EvangeLIVING. We have to train ourselves to allow the Holy Spirit to do what only He can do. Of course, we try to connect with people and provide them with some way to follow up with us, our church or some other ministry. But as we live our lives in this way, we create opportunities for the Lord to step into the timeline of someone’s life and reveal Himself to them in a powerful way.
Have you had an experience where offering to pray with someone led to a significant conversation or encounter? Please share the story in the comments so that we can be inspired and rejoice with you!
DUSTIN RENZ is the President of Make Way Ministries, a non-profit organization that exists to see the world changed one Christian at a time. He has a passion to see the Body of Christ find rich intimacy in their relationship with Jesus and step out in faith to share the Gospel with the world around them. He is the author of Pile of Masks: Exposing Christian Hypocrisy and Something Better. He resides in Dayton, Ohio with his wife and three daughters.