What’s the most awkward first impression you ever made? When meeting other people the first topic should be one that is almost impartial or neutral. I’ll never forget when I moved to Texas and I got in a room full of people I didn’t know very well yet at my new job at a church in Plano, TX. Instead of asking people how they liked the church or what they did, I made the bold decision to just talk about how overrated I thought Texas was. I mocked everything from the Cowboys to the baseball teams, to the Barbecue, and even to your precious Whataburger. I did not make many friends on my first day. I think in the right context or having known someone for a while it’s okay to challenge their sports team or taste in food but having known someone for 20 minutes or not even at all, it didn’t hit the way I thought it would. Sometimes I think we do this when trying to share the Gospel. Instead of starting with a question about them or small talk, we try to go right for their heart and it isn’t always received well. This began to convict me in the past and I made a shift to the way I would approach strangers and friends in conversation. I used to make an aggressive or strategic shift to get the conversation into a place where we can talk about Jesus, but that could sometimes come across as disingenuous, so I made an adjustment in my approach.
HOW CAN I PRAY FOR YOU?
It’s a question I wasn’t asking enough. I never realized how simple, yet powerful, it was to ask someone how you can pray for them. It’s such an intentional question that’s so easy to ask. There is so much power in prayer, it’s an open connection with God to show gratitude, to make requests, to cry out, and to simply just communicate with Him. I changed the way I evangelize to ask the question “How can I pray for you?” before I dive into the rest of the conversation. I quickly discovered after the first few times of asking this question that it’s also a way to connect others to God. I have had deeper conversations than I have ever had before and all of this stemmed from studying the book of James and coming across James 5:16 which says
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”
Prayer in Action
Recently I had the opportunity to take 25 of our High School Students and Serve team on a mission trip to Longmont, CO to partner with Doug Hixson and Connection Church, one of our church plant partners. While there our main job was to canvas neighborhoods in the area for their Easter service and I challenged students to interact with people, hand the flyer to them, and ask the question “How can I pray for you?” instead of handing a flyer and saying, “Have a nice day.” Every night students would tell endless stories of people they got the chance to pray over that day. We prayed with over 160 people while we were there. Families were opening up and inviting us into their homes to pray over their family members who couldn’t leave the house. Our students were able to impact others with the Gospel and were also impacted themselves by the opportunity to ask someone a simple question. One of our students who went on the trip, Rebekah Martin, had this to say about her experience:
“Oftentimes we passively ask people questions such as ‘How are you doing?’ or ‘How has your day been?’ The problem with this is that surface level questions typically warrant a surface level response. However, when we ask someone how we can pray for them, we are asking to be let into a deeper part of their life. The part of their life in which God is moving.”
The Cloud Crowd
There is a very easy way to put this into practice, I call it the cloud crowd. Everybody has around a hundred people they can put into the crowd cloud. These are the people you interact with on 3 different regular basis’: a daily basis, a weekly basis, and a monthly basis. “Daily” are your family members, coworkers, friends, people at the gym, or wherever you go daily. “Weekly” can be people from your life group, people at whatever store you shop at, “Monthly” can be waiters/waitresses at your favorite restaurant, or any monthly routine place you might have. Write out the names of all these people and what you know about them spiritually. When you interact with them start asking them how you can pray for them. Pray for them in the moment, but also take notes next to each of their names and continue to pray for them. It will open doors to gospel conversations and intimate details of a person’s life that you can use to begin pointing them to Jesus. Prayer is a power that we don’t always use intentionally. Next time you want to share Jesus with a family member, coworker, or stranger, try beginning by asking the simple yet powerful question “How can I pray for you?”
Love and Blessings
By: Hunter Brooks
High School Pastor