By Asst Ps Gift Daniel
The season of Christmas gives us many opportunities for outreach. Personally, this is the time of the year that I get involved in personal outreach, including inviting non-Christian friends for a meal or just attending a Christmas outreach party or simply explaining the meaning of Christmas to a migrant worker or anyone who is curious to know about it. As a church, our emphasis for this year is prayer and outreach. I thought of sharing with you some suggestions that can help us to pray and engage in personal outreach, particularly during this season. I hope this will increase our appetite to pray earnestly and wisely for our personal outreach efforts.
The last chapter of the book of Colossians offers us an intriguing model to pray for the outreach work. In this chapter, Paul is exhorting the Colossian believers concerning their evangelistic work. As a community of faith, God has called us from darkness to the light to proclaim His good news. The work of evangelism includes two imperatives, prayer and proclamation. Based on Colossians 4:2-6, I would like to share with you four things we can pray for in relation to our outreach work.
Pray that God may open a door of opportunity
Verse 3: “And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message”.
Apostle Paul is writing this from prison and he is asking the Colossian believers to pray that God will open a door of opportunity for him to be His witness in prison. None of us are in a situation like Paul. We live in a country where there is relative religious freedom. Often, we come across opportunities to share the Gospel. However, I have missed several of these opportunities personally because I was not watchful and prayerful. Most of the time, I am not alert enough to seize the opportunity presented by God. Let us pray that we will be sensitive to the opportunities God gives us. Sometimes it can be in the most unexpected way or unlikely place. Our watchful prayers will make us sensitive to God’s leading and to the people and setting around us.
One suggested prayer in relation to this is: Lord, open my eyes to see the people around me the way you do.
Pray for clarity in presentation
Verse 4: “Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should”.
Paul not only desired for an opportunity to share the Gospel but clarity in sharing it. Here Paul is asking the Colossian believers to pray for clarity in their presentation of the Gospel when doors are opened by God as an answer to their prayers. Many of us do get the opportunity to share the Gospel but do not know how to present it clearly and succinctly. As a result, the opportunity is not well utilized. This is where we need to equip ourselves to share the gospel message with clarity and conviction. Clarity in presentation comes with God’s help and our own preparation and practice.
One suggested prayer in relation to this is: My mouth is yours, let me speak clearly the words that will point people to Christ.
Pray for wisdom in our conduct
Verse 5: “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders….”
Here Paul connects the presentation of the Gospel to how we behave or act towards outsiders. The word “outsiders” here refers to non-Christians. We need God’s wisdom to model to outsiders the message of the Gospel. It could be that for some of your non-Christian friends, you are the only Christian they look up to. As Christians, we authenticate the Gospel through our lives and words. We can either plant doubts or enhance the message of the Gospel by our bad or good conduct respectively. If we are not wise in our conduct, our Christian witness will be affected.
One suggested prayer in relation to this is: Change me from inside out, so that my character and conduct will reflect your message of love.
Pray for our conversation to be filled with grace
Verse 6: “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone”.
The final exhortation for prayer is that our conversation (with outsiders) be full of grace, seasoned with salt and will lead outsiders to ask questions related to our Christian faith. The casual conversation that we have with others over a meal, at the bus stop or the car park can be powerful if it is filled with grace and compassion. A thoughtless word of criticism or a questionable remark in our conversation may not help in our witness as a Christian. Paul’s exhortation is to bring human graciousness together with careful words in our conversations.
One suggested prayer in relation to this is: Let my conversation be filled with grace and compassion.
May the Lord help us to be watchful in prayer and always be prepared to share the Gospel in season and out of season, not only through our words but also through our Christian conduct.