Thursday, 22 December 2011

Can I pray for the sick when witnessing?

As you go about your life seeking for opportunities to share the good news of Jesus Christ, there will be occasions when people that you come into contact with will have relatives, friends or family members who are either unwell or are going through a difficult situation. Of course it is also possible that the person you are speaking to could well be experiencing difficulties or illness themselves. These (genuinely) are ideal opportunities for the Gospel and of course a good time for you to offer to pray for them.

I understand well that this subject can be a contentious one for some. Some Christians believe that healing and other miracles only happened in  biblical times and don’t happen now. My answer is that I have seen people healed in the name of Jesus through prayer and the Lord has used me in this ministry on many occasions - people have been healed from all kinds of conditions. Many of them were immediately healed as they were prayed for. All the glory goes to the Lord for this as I can’t heal anyone. It is the prayer of faith that heals the sick.

Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. Matthew 10: 8

My wife Desiree and I both take any opportunity we can to offer prayer for people. Many individuals when they are suffering will start to search for God in one way or another. Very often my wife is asked to say a prayer for so and so at work, or for a relative or friend.

I have prayed for people lots of times when the opportunity has arisen, some were Christians and many were not. I have done so on the street, in homes, over the telephone, in fact anywhere and everywhere .

Recently my eldest sister and her husband visited us. They have both been unwell over the last couple of years. As a young Christian, in my over enthusiasm, I ‘Bible-bashed’ them and unfortunately, this pushed them away from Jesus. Consequently, witnessing to them has been difficult over the last eighteen years or so. As they talked about their conditions I asked if they would like me to pray for them, as I had seen many people healed over the years in the name of Jesus. That afternoon my daughter Bethan and I prayed for them both. We don’t see each other that often, but I believe I will have more opportunities to pray with them. Hopefully one day leading them in a prayer to accept Jesus as Lord.

A while ago my wife and I had been witnessing to a married lady who was experiencing a lot of problems. We would share the Gospel, she would listen with interest even acknowledging that God exists. As I write this she has not as yet  given her life to Jesus, but He will intervene in her circumstances when she does.

This lady came along to a house group meeting one evening and explained that her daughter had just had her tonsils removed. Healing was taking a long time during which she has contracted a very painful throat leaving her unable to eat for a few days. The medication she was on seemed to be having no effect at all and the young girl was very poorly indeed. I asked if the lady would like us to pray for her daughter and explained how Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever, because He still heals the sick. She agreed and we prayed the prayer of faith that the Lord would touch the young girl as she slept.

The very next morning the young girl woke up and coughed all of the infection out of her throat. The pain stopped straight away and she was able to eat her first food since her operation. The lady excitedly rang to tell us the good news. We are still witnessing to her, believing that she will one day accept Jesus. She testifies that the Lord healed her daughter, which is excellent.

When I pray for healing, or for the Lord to move in the situation the person may be going through, I always ask the Lord to use His intervention as a form of proof that He is real. I will say something like: “Lord I ask that you would heal Bob’s condition and do it so that he will have no doubt that you are the living God. Please heal him in the name of Jesus”

I believe very strongly in quoting some healing scriptures or stories here. Explaining the faith of the centurion, who said to Jesus: “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.” Matthew 8:8.

Or I share the story about the leper who went to Jesus asking to be healed: “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” He said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him.” Luke 5: 12-13

In using these scriptures I will often quote them as I pray saying “Lord I know that you are still willing” or “Lord, just say the word”. There many scriptures that you can use, and remember, that faith comes by hearing the word of God. Many times people have said how they have felt the presence of the Lord on occasions like this.

God can use these situations to really open people’s hearts. C.S. Lewis said that suffering is God’s mouthpiece to man. We know from scripture that the children of Israel called out to the Lord to move in their distress.

Take the step of faith and ask if the person would like you pray. You will be amazed how many times they say “yes!”


Wednesday, 14 December 2011

How to invite a person to church

Do you know people who are charismatic types and as a result, they find it easier to share the Gospel with friends, family and people in general, whilst there are others who are much more cautious and they don’t find it a comfortable experience in any way at all?
What group do you believe that you fall into?
According to research it is said that only 10% of Christians actually have an evangelistic type of heart or calling on their lives, while only 5% actually ever lead a person to Christ during their lifetime. Whether these figures are true or not is up for debate no doubt. However, I believe though that the figures do bear a good deal of truth, but they are probably just a guestimation.
The point to remember here is that we are not all called to be evangelists, but we are all commanded to be witnesses for Christ in some way. I have said before that witnessing can take many forms. It can be confrontational, relational, testimonial or invitational.
Let’s pause and consider this subject. One of the easiest forms of evangelising and witnessing is inviting someone to church or perhaps a Christian event.
Now here’s some really great news! If we ask God for wisdom, He will grant it to us! It is clearly laid out in His Word, so therefore it must be true. Without a doubt God will always keep His word to us.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” James 1: 5
Another amazing promise is what will happen if we win souls for His kingdom. It has always been one of my favourite scriptures:
“He who wins souls is wise.” Proverbs 11: 30
I believe that God will give us wisdom not only on how to witness, but incredibly He will also show us exactly who we should be witnessing to. Sometimes it may just involve the sharing of some scripture or perhaps your testimony, while on other occasions it could mean inviting someone to come to church with you to attend a service or some kind of a special outreach event.
Key Point: Be honest about what you are inviting a person to attend
I have a few suggestions that will help you from my past experience, because I have got it wrong on some occasions. The first suggestion is:
Be honest about what you are inviting a person to attend: 
I was the guest speaker at a Christian Business event a few years ago. At the time it was one of the largest that I had ever spoken at. Those in attendance were a fifty / fifty split between believers and non believers. My wife joined me at the evening, and we were sat at a large table with other couples who ran businesses in the locality. We really got on well with one particular couple who sat opposite to us. It became evident through talking that they had come along expecting to hear about business topics from the key note speaker. They didn’t know it was a Christian event, they had no idea that I was the after dinner speaker and they certainly didn’t know that I was going to share my story of how I came to know Jesus Christ.
The chairman of the event introduced the speaker (me) for the night to the meeting, as I got up to speak the couple we had been talking to looked somewhat surprised. When I shared my story of how Jesus Christ totally changed my life they both had shocked expressions on their faces. Their irritation was very obvious - they left quickly after the meeting finished and I have never seen them since. Praise God a number of people committed their lives to Christ that evening. All glory to Him.
When inviting people to church or events it is wisest to give them an idea of what to expect. I will often say something like:
“At the end of the meeting the speaker may well ask if anyone wants to follow Christ. Some people take up the invitation and some people don’t”. 
If it’s a church meeting I explain that:
“The worship will probably be different to what you expect. People may clap, even dance, but they do so out of experience and not just because the music is good".
People will genuinely appreciate honesty like this, and if they don’t come to Christ at the meeting, the bridge hasn’t been burned to pieces because the person concerned felt as if they had been duped into coming along. Very often an opportunity to invite them to something else may mean that they will come along in the future.
Be enthusiastic about the meeting or event: 
Enthusiasm is definitely contagious. When you explain about the meeting or event you are inviting them to, do so in a very positive way. Sometimes people invite non believers to church in really negative ways, explaining the meeting in this way: 
“The worship is likely to be wild, the speaker usually speaks for about 45 to minutes to an hour. Last week he spoke about crucifying sin in our lives. Come along you will really enjoy it”  
Speaking like that is very off putting! Don’t look disappointed or let down when a person says ‘No thank you’: This is very important as an “OK, perhaps another time then” leaves the door open. Some people will agree to come and even arrange to meet you at the door, but not turn up. They will give you a wide range of excuses for not coming:
Something came up at the last minute”, “I couldn’t find the church”,  “Or I wasn’t feeling well”.
 The strangest excuse that I ever got from someone who said they would come to a meeting was:
“I couldn’t make it because my grand mother’s neck started to bleed”. 
Whatever the excuses you get and no matter how strange they might appear to be, you will have to take them on the chin. Other opportunities will come along in the future.
Continue to pray and ask God to guide you: 
We have a promise from God that is a guarantee: 
“He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6
God is so good - He will always keep His promises to us. We just have to trust Him. Pray and listen, because God will direct your path.  He will show you when and who to invite. When you are prompted by the Holy Spirit amazing things will happen.
Your willingness to be used by the Lord will present you with plenty of occasions where you can invite people to functions. Some people will say yes and some will say no. It’s better to at least ask.
If they come along they will hear the Gospel and may come to Christ. It will be all because you asked them to come along.










Thursday, 8 December 2011

Witnessing to a professing Christian

This is a short excerpt from my soon to be released book, "A fall from the top" A true story of when I shared Jesus with a work colleague. Perhaps you know people like this. 

Another recruit called Iain joined the office from a banking background. He was a pleasant chap and was very popular. He was very intelligent and had won a very difficult quiz game on television. I let him know that I was a Christian on his first day in the job. He told me “I am a Christian and I go to our local church every Sunday”. “Great” I thought. As he got more familiar with colleagues I noticed that he swore a lot and even took the name of the Lord in vain. This disturbed me because if a person has truly given their life to Jesus the last thing they would do is use the name of Jesus Christ as a swear word. I decided when the time was right that I would challenge Him.

It wasn’t very long before I had an opportunity, when we were alone. I said “Iain can I ask you a personal question?” “Yes of course” he replied. I said “To be totally honest with you, I am a little confused. You say you are a Christian, yet you use profane language and have even taken the name of the Lord in vain”. He looked embarrassed and said that he didn’t realise he had done so. I said “Imagine a drunk on the street was being spoken to by a person who was trying to help him from a local church. During the conversation the so-called Christian used profane language. I think you’d agree that even a drunk person would realise that something was wrong”. Iain agreed and the language he used quickly changed.

I couldn’t leave it there though, so I spoke to him on a number of occasions and asked him when he had made a decision to follow Jesus. He admitted that he had never done that, but that he did believe the Bible. I asked him as I had done with Paul whether he thought that Jesus was in fact who He said He was and what he thought of the same verse of scripture. “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” (John 3: 5 NIV). His answer was just the same as Paul’s, "Oh, I don't think I believe that"

We had many conversations and as with Paul we had much common ground. But once again, we got stuck on that same fundamental truth. One Friday evening we were alone in the office and soon got onto the subject of the Lord. We talked about Heaven and discussed that no matter how good someone is, whether they go to church or give to charity they will not be able to enter Heaven unless their name is in the Book of Life. The only way of getting there is to be a true follower of Jesus. We discussed how no one would be able to enter the kingdom of God through his or her own righteousness or by doing good works: -
All our righteous acts are like filthy rags”. (Isaiah 64: 6 NIV)
 I used another verse to explain that a commitment is required from the heart: -
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' (Matthew 7: 21-23 NIV)

As we spoke I saw from his expression that he had had a sudden realisation - there was nothing he could do to earn his way into Heaven. He was a lost sheep just like I had been. Jesus had saved me by His Grace. I asked him “Do you want to leave here tonight with complete assurance that if you died today you would be in Heaven with Jesus?” He looked at me and said “Moray I’m not ready yet”. I replied “We will never be ready because there is nothing we can do of ourselves. Today is the day of Salvation. Don’t put it off, we can deal with this now if you truly believe”. “Yes I do believe” he replied. That was all I needed to hear. At that moment it felt as if God’s presence was very powerful in the office. I could clearly see that Iain was affected by it because he took a sharp intake of breath and stopped breathing for a moment. His eyes filled with tears. I asked, “Would you like to receive Jesus as your Saviour now?” He answered “Yes, I would”. We went through the prayer in the same way as I had with Paul. God is truly amazing! I couldn’t wait to tell Desiree the wonderful news.