Do you ever feel shameful concerning your attempts (or the lack thereof) of sharing your faith? It’s one of those areas that everyone feels guilty that they could be doing more. And it’s probably true. This is something I struggle with often. It’s great that Paul gives us some tips out of Colossians 4 on how to begin to share our faith with those that we love.
First, he asked them to pray for him and his outreaching buddies that God would open up a door for God’s message to be delivered to those that are around them (Co. 4:3). Paul was not afraid to talk about Jesus by any means. In fact, he often was beaten, threatened, and a whole bunch of other things because of his inability to keep his mouth shut about Jesus (2 Cor. 11:23-28). But he still asked for these Colossian Christians to pray that God would open doors. Casual Christianity doesn’t open its mouth, but intentional Christianity decides to ask for doors to be opened in order to speak when those doors become open.
When was the last time that you asked God to open up a door for you to share what Christ has done in your life with someone? I’ll give you a warning: he will open the door! He keeps his promises. God isn’t like us, he doesn’t lie (Num. 23:19). So if God’s Word tells us to pray for open doors, then if you pray for them, they will swing open widely. If you honestly want to share, then stop even right now as you read this paragraph, and pray: “God, will you please open a door today for me to outreach to someone who needs you.”
Secondly, Paul asked them that they pray for his clarity as he shared. That petition should reassure us greatly. The Apostle Paul, who refuted tons of brilliant people with the truth of the gospel, asked for others to pray that he portray Christ clearly. I know that I have personally struggled with the feelings of inadequacy when it comes to sharing Christ, but I rarely ask those around me to pray for me that I present him clearly. I would think that Paul would tell these Christians, “get ready because we are going to holy roll our way through these people with our theological arguments,” but he didn’t. He asked for people to pray.
This prayer request is one of the reasons you need a good small group. If you regularly meet with a group of people whose sole purpose is to encourage you to love and good deeds (Heb. 10:24), you probably pray for each other or at least collect prayer requests together. Christians love to share prayer requests. Even if people haven’t prayed about the situation themselves, we love to give prayer requests. Sometimes I think gossip is disguised in prayer requests. Sometimes I think attempts to get attention are disguised by prayer requests. But rarely do I ever hear people make a prayer request that God open up the door for them to share their faith and that they share the faith clearly.
Think about it for a moment. The last time you were in a meeting with people and you were sharing prayer requests, what did you hear? You probably made a list of someone who has a major test this week, a sick great-aunt, a friend’s boyfriend’s sister’s friend that broke her pinky finger, a stressful week, a need for a new job, and an unspoken. Those requests are all valid, and I think it is beautiful that we can share those needs with one another. My problem with most prayer times is that nobody actually prays for the things requested and most requests are centered on building any other kingdom besides God’s Kingdom.
I do pray for pinky fingers and stressful weeks and new jobs. But I pray that in the middle of recovery of a broken pinky finger, God will challenge that person to living a life more faithful to Jesus than ever before. I pray that a person will have eyes during their stressful week to notice the needs of others whose lives are characterized by stress that would make ours seem trivial. I pray that God send someone to a new job in which they can share the gospel in such a meaningful way that the new place of employment will have continual spiritual conversations due to that person’s initiation.
What would happen on your campus if your small group or large group of assembled believers started making evangelistic prayers a regular item in your meetings? What if we exalted Jesus to the place of being able to answer prayers outside of our personal needs or preferences, and we started praying that his Kingdom advance on our campuses?
Paul prayed for that. You should pray for that. The next time you are in your small group, your dorm Bible study, or your group of friends, why don’t you ask for prayer that God open up doors for you to witness? Cindy will ask that you pray for her paper in which she procrastinated. Rick will ask that you pray for his friend’s mom’s second cousin-twice-removed who had a tree limb fall on her car. And you ask that God open up doors for you to share your faith clearly. And ask it the following week. And then when the leader asks for someone to pray and there is that awkward silence because everyone is to embarrassed to pray (don’t even get me started on this one), step up and pray for every thing that was mentioned. But pray for every request with the Kingdom in mind.
I think a campus or a workplace or a city has yet to see what would happen if a group of people really started praying for the gospel to advance through where they live.