One morning while enjoying breakfast with a pastor friend named Luke, he shared something about his devotional life that moved me – something simple, yet profound and powerful.
Luke said everyday he includes his morning prayers with this: “Lord, today please give me divine appointments, ministry opportunities and open doors.”
I have seen God answer that prayer in my own life. And in regards to engaging in spiritual conversations with people, Luke’s daily discipline is a great reminder for you and me.
Spiritual conversations should begin on our knees!
Here’s a helpful quip to help us remember the priority of prayer in evangelism:
Go to God on behalf of people before you go to people on behalf of God.
I’m stating the obvious. Yet in our fast-paced, action-packed world, we as believers can fall into the trap of thinking there is power in the doing, when the reality is that the real power is in the praying. For praying should precede the doing and will galvanize the doing while making a huge difference between walking in the spirit and walking in the flesh.
“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:18).
If you’re the gregarious type, and enjoy “witnessing on the way” – talking to complete strangers about the Lord – praying for divine appointments is certainly an appropriate way to prepare for the day.
The typical witnessing challenge for most of us is discussing spiritual matters with those in our regular sphere of influence – family, friends, associates, co-workers and others we know by name. For each of us has an ongoing witness to those in our regular sphere of influence, as there are many touch points and opportunities to both demonstrate the love of God and verbally proclaim the truth of God.
But since spiritual conversations are a God-thing, we need to acknowledge our dependence upon Him to provide ministry opportunities and open up doors. Hence, we pray!
In Colossians 4:2 the Apostle Paul asked the Church in Colosse to pray that “God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ.” Sometimes doors are open, other times they are closed. And in the mystery of God’s providence, it is He who opens doors and interestingly, it is He who can also close doors. For example, In Acts 16:6 Paul, Silas and Timothy were “forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia” and when they tried to go to Bithynia, “the Spirit did not permit them” (Acts 16:7).
As we walk by faith, Paul’s prayer and experiences with open and closed doors provides a good cue for us. You see, we ought to pray for open doors to “speak the mystery of Christ,” as Paul did. Additionally, we also need to understand that in God’s providence, it is He who ultimately opens doors and closes doors according to His sovereign will.
So, pray expectantly, asking God to open doors of opportunity to share the wonders of the gospel with someone. And ask the Lord for wisdom, discernment and faith to walk through the doors He is opening and avoid banging your proverbial head against doors that are closed.
To “always be ready” (1 Peter 3:15) with “a word aptly spoken” (Proverbs 25:11) doesn’t necessarily mean we have prepared words to be inserted in a conversation. For conversations are like a box of chocolates and usually take on a life all their own. Rather, it’s praying that God would meet us at our point of need – that we would have the right words at the right time as those doors of opportunity open.
A simple way to recognize open and closed doors is to actively listen to the person you’re speaking with! Our speech should be “seasoned with grace” (Colossians 4:6) – and part of that grace is to respect people’s desire to not want to discuss spiritual matters. Don’t force a conversation. Talk with people who want to talk. If someone isn’t interested at a particular moment in discussing spiritual things, respect their wishes. Keep that relational door open, for there may be a time in the future when they may be open.
Pray for divine appointments, ministry opportunities and open doors to speak about Jesus. Pray for wisdom and discernment to recognize both open and closed doors. And pray for a “word aptly spoken”. Then see what our great God will do as we seek to tell others about the Savior!
Sing to the Lord, bless His name; Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. – Psalm 96:2