A Plan to Share Jesus. Step Five: Pray

Recently I’ve posted the steps to develop a daily plan for a lifestyle of witness. As I said at the outset, I don’t think these are “the” steps as if mine are the correct ones and others aren’t. I have found these steps help to develop a daily focus on sharing Christ. You can read all of them in order by reading the first post, the second, the third, and the fourth. Here is the fifth and final step:

Finally, pray daily for your witness and for those to whom you will witness. This is spiritual work; nothing can substitute for prayer.

In the beginning of the Sharing Jesus book I encourage the reader to begin praying daily this simple prayer: “God, give me the opportunity to witness, the wisdom to see it, and the courage to take it.”

You can’t evangelize effectively on a consistent basis without prayer. Witnessing is spiritual warfare. How can prayer help us? Here are a few ways.

Pray for Boldness to Witness (see Acts 4:24–31). When the early church faced her first persecution, they didn’t pray for God to take away their adversaries. They prayed for boldness. This is a biblical prayer.

Pray in the Spirit’s Power. In Ephesians 6, Paul followed his discussion of the armor of God with a request for believers to pray for bold proclamation of the gospel (Eph 6:18–20). Prayer is seen as an indispensable part of the armor of God as is the Word, the sword of the Spirit. Paul exhorted the Ephesians to pray for “utterance,” or parrhesia, which means an openness to share the gospel. This is the expression translated “boldness” in Acts 4:29, 31. Paul was in prison as he wrote these words, asking for courage to share Christ.

Pray in Faith.  The question is not, “Do you believe in prayer?” Most people do. The question is, “Do you pray believing?” What are you asking God to do that will stretch your faith, that brings him into the mix. Sharing Christ in a godless culture like ours is serious, spiritual work. Faith is like a muscle, it has to be exercised. I encourage you to begin asking God to use you for his great gospel work.

A Plan to Share Jesus. Step Four: Be Accountable to Someone

Here is the fourth step from the final chapter of the Sharing Jesus book to develop a consistent plan to share Christ.

Fourth, regularly (weekly, monthly, quarterly) stop to assess your plan with an accountability partner or mentor. Perhaps find a fellow believer to join you in your witnessing efforts on occasion.

My specific accountability partner is Jim Gillespie, men’s pastor at our church.

But I have others as well. As a professor, I am accountable to my students. It’s vital for me to speak regularly of those I’ve shared Christ with. As a part time pastor, I’m accountable to the young pros ministry I lead as well. I’m especially aware of my accountability to my grandson Lincoln and his generation!

Ultimately, I’m accountable to the Lord. I feel no pressure — none, nada, nil — to witness because God will be angry at me on the one hand or because I earn his favor on the other. I do want to honor and obey him, and I do care about people, so I want to be faithful and effective in sharing Jesus.

Accountability is a good thing. It’s why support groups are helpful and personal trainers are useful. To whom are you accountable for your witness! It helps with fitness and other areas of life, so it will help with your witness as well!

A Plan to Share Jesus. Step Three: Assess Your Relationships

Here is the third step in developing a plan to share Jesus consistently from the Sharing Jesus book.

Third, from the Concentric Circles exercise, identify people in your circles of influence you already know who don’t know Christ.

Oscar Thompson taught evangelism at Southwestern Baptist Seminary. He died of cancer just before I began my studies there, but I and many others have been blessed by his Concentric Circles approach to assessing our relationships. If we’re honest, one of the greatest hindrances to our sharing Jesus is simply this: most of us don’t know enough people who don’t know Jesus. Here it is:

Grab a pen and paper and take a look at the chart below. Take a few minutes to write down the names of people in each circle. Start at the most inward circle just outside yourself.

Do you have close family members who need to know Jesus? Other relatives you see on occasion?

What about friends? Jesus was criticized for being a friend of sinners (not a friend of sin!). Do you have friends who are more than an evangelism projects, but who are real friends who need Jesus? I have a fishing buddy who to this point has not come to Christ. I love this friend. I hope he meets Jesus.

How about your neighbors? Do you actually know your neighbors? Do you know where they are spiritually?

What about work associates? Do you think about your co-workers? I hope this book has helped you here. Look at the next circle. Do you have acquaintances, people who aren’t necessarily friends, but people you know? Another question I like to ask people is to think about their list of contacts on their phones. Think about yours. Can you identify at least three people in your contact list who don’t know Jesus but with whom you have enough of a relationship that you could invite them to a meal or to have a cup of coffee and they would join you?

The final circle represents Person X, or that person you don’t know you may encounter. This could be someone sitting next to you in an airplane or at a coffee shop. It could be a server in a restaurant or someone at the bank. I’ll be honest: 90 percent of the witness training I received in my young adult years focused on witnessing to strangers door-to-door or those we encounter we do not know. I’m grateful for that, but I hope you see the importance of sharing Jesus with the very people God puts in our lives. These dear souls are neither incidental nor accidental in your life.

What would be the most practical ways of connecting with these people? Identify a realistic plan for connecting with at least one person in these circles weekly. This involves being open to random encounters with others and intentional meetings for conversations with others (Person X). It may be that one such encounter a week is realistic for you; volume matters less than consistency.

A Plan to Share Jesus. Step Two: Find the Core of Your Witness

The first step in developing a personal plan to share Jesus is to immerse yourself in, marinate, and consistently contemplate the good news found in Jesus. Here is the second, from the final chapter of the Sharing Jesus book.

Second, understand these factors that help your personal witness: Giftedness, Calling, and Deep Satisfaction. Over the years, people more wise than I have talked about the importance of bringing together one’s giftedness, calling, and deep satisfaction to see practically how God made you and can use you for His glory.[1] Look at the Venn diagram featuring three interlocking circles representing these three. Developing a plan for your witness will involve you living at the center with all three at work. These three correspond to the important areas of orthodoxy (right belief, or knowing God’s calling in the gospel), orthopraxy (right actions, ways we are gifted to do things for the Great Commission), and orthopathy (right affections, or understanding deep satisfaction from a Jesus-centered view).

Take a sheet of paper and write the three terms across the top in three columns. Underneath Giftedness, write what you understand to be your gifts. This includes spiritual gifts, but more. Include talents you have, personal characteristics, even limitations, as we talked about earlier. Your education, family, relationships, strengths all count in the area of giftedness. “Anything that enables you to do something effectively counts as a gift,” Forster argues, which includes “Much more than just your ‘skills’ and ‘talents’ narrowly understood. Personal characteristics, ranging from physical endurance to empathy, are gifts that empower you to do things others can’t do.”[2] This includes things you can’t control or limitations you have: where you were born, your family, you place and time in history. It includes things like education, relationships, and jobs. Even limitations can help you to focus on God’s work in you.

 

In the Calling category, write what you see as the greatest passions of your life based on what you understand from God’s Word and his commission. If you can think of specific things others have affirmed in you, like compassion, a love for the broken, a desire to teach the Word, or others, note those. What are things you know God has burdened you about? What would you do for free? What is that thing you believe you must do with your life?

Concerning Deep Satisfaction, what are the things that bring you greatest joy? God built us for more than survival; he made us to long for something beyond us, something to bring deep satisfaction. Our ultimate satisfaction is in Christ! Out of that gospel-centered focus of life we can observe more specific and personal ways we find satisfaction. For me, as one called to teach, I take deep satisfaction in seeing people “get it,” or discover something true that changes them.

Where these three meet, you find your sweet spot for serving Jesus out of the reality of who you are. For me, my giftedness would include some ability to communicate as a teacher, wonderful experiences that have helped me learn to share my faith, and great mentors. My calling includes a burden to equip leaders to live lives on mission for God. I get deep satisfaction when someone “gets it,” or has a breakthrough in his life and witness (which is why I am a teacher, see?). This is why I am always trying to teach when I share Jesus. I love what Tim Keller said, how when we share Christ, no matter how the person responds, we want to share in such a way they would wish it were true.

What’s yours? Think about ways you can utilize this information to communicate Jesus with others.

[1] Again I’m indebted to Forster for his discussion on this in his book Joy for the World, although he too notes many godly leaders have observed this triune understanding of how God made us. Forster, Joy for the World, 168–169.

[2] Ibid., 169.