Prayer is How You Prepare

The secret to success in business, sports, marriage and life in general is adequate preparation and the right attitude. This is why we go to school, practice the required skills and consult those with experience when attempting something for the first time.  Even after we’ve developed a level of expertise; it is always wise to refresh and review those things that are required to get the job done.  So does being a witness for Christ, either for the first time or the fiftieth, require this same sort of discipline?  The answer to the question is both yes and no.

We like the disciples in Matthew chapters ten and twenty-eight, receive our commissioning and mandate from Jesus.  It is God, in the person of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, who provides the authority and the means; all that required us is that we believe and a willingness to be sent.  There are two key instructions given to the disciples and us in verses eight and nine of Matthew ten.  The first is that we are to “freely give” that which we have received for free.  Not that the gift of eternal life was free, only that it was the Son of God who paid the price on our behalf, demanding nothing in return.  “But doesn’t he demand that we have faith,” you ask?  Not really, because our ability and conviction to have faith in the resurrected Christ comes from God, through Christ by the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. All that is left for us to do is to accept it, as a gift freely given.

I think that all too often the Gospel of Christ is presented with “strings attached.”  It may be tethered by a requirement to tithe and make financial commitments, to practice the “sacraments” of baptism and communion in a certain way or tradition.  Having lived in the “bible belt” for a half dozen years, I learned that in the south, if you don’t go to “church meeting” on Wednesday night then your faith is certainly suspect.  In the holiness churches it’s all about manifesting the “gifts of Spirit” such as “speaking in tongues” or channeling the Holy Spirit in some demonstrative way. I could go on, since the list is a long one indeed. Yet, at the end of the day, none of these are a requirement for having a relationship with the risen Christ; but there is one very definite expectation after you have received the free gift of grace.  It is to share it with others freely, with no strings attached.

The second instruction given to the disciples, as they were heading out on their mission, was not to bring along anything and that included money, luggage, or even a change of clothes. Jesus tells them that such provision would not be necessary, “for a worker is worth his keep.”  What in the world is Jesus talking about?  Simply that as long as they were in His employ, on the mission He sent them on, then it would be Him and Him alone that would provide for them.  To bring anything along would be a demonstration of a lack of faith and confidence in the Lord God’s ability to provide all that they might require for the journey.

When you go into your world to share the free gift of grace, with your friends, neighbors, co-workers or even enemies, all that you require will be provided by God, in Christ, through the power of the Spirit.  That said, one of the things I’ve learned over the years is how easy it is to make excuses for staying home, keeping quiet or not extending a helping hand. Sometimes it’s the time I don’t have, or the money, or energy, enthusiasm or even a willingness to go.  There have been many times in my life when I have turned my back and said, “They’re not ready to hear it” or “not now I’m busy.”  I have even said to myself, “They’re not worth my time or the effort.”  Later when the opportunity to share Christ with someone has passed I’ll lament its passing, but deep down I know that I’ll duck my responsibility again and find a new excuse, if necessary.  It’s not easy to be willing to share Christ but intuitively it should be, since all that He asks of us is to give away the most precious gift the world has ever known, and it costs absolutely nothing to those who accept it. And although it’s not easy to always be “willing” to share Christ with another, you are always “able.”  God has taken care of that for us.

Yes, there is a regimen or preparation you should avail yourself of before going and telling others about Christ.  It too cost’s nothing and you can do it anywhere and in any way; simply pray.  Talking things over with God is how to acquire the willingness and enthusiasm you may lack.  In fact, if you don’t take the matter up with the Lord, you can expect that Satan will be trying to intervene on his behalf.  Don’t worry about where you are or if it is the appropriate time and place; seek Him in the quiet of your heart and you can be sure that He will hear you and gladly answer.  If you are willing to go, He will provide both the method and the means.

Tool #404  Pray for opportunities to share the free gift of grace with someone in need of the Savior; but know that He will hear you and expect you to follow through on you end.

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