Summary: If you want talk so people will listen, then first of all talk to God about others before you talk to others about God. Then be wise, be gracious, and be tasteful in your conversation.
The abbot of a monastery called a novice into his office and instructed him to give the sermon at the next morning's chapel.
The novice was struck with fear. The next morning, chapel came. He stood in the pulpit. The brothers were there. His hands were trembling. His knees were knocking. His voice was quivering. There was a long pause before he first spoke, and then he asked a question. “Do you know what I'm going to say?”
They had no idea, so all of their heads went back and forth almost in unison, as if it were choreographed. He said, “Neither do I. Let's stand for the benediction.”
The next day was almost an exact repeat of the day before. All the brothers sat there before him. His hands shook. His knees knocked. His voice trembled. Long pause. “Do you know what I'm going to say?” he asked.
Well, after the previous day's experience, they had a pretty good idea. So all of their heads nodded yes.
“Then there's no need for me to tell you. Let's stand for the benediction.”
The abbot was angry beyond description. He brought the young man into his office and said, “If you do that again, you are going to be in solitary confinement, eat bread and water for thirty days, and receive any other punishment I can think of. Tomorrow morning give the sermon; do it right.”
The third day, chapel attendance hit an all-time high. Everyone was there to see what he would say, and it was almost an exact repeat. He stood, trembling, voice quivering, and after a long silence asked, “Do you know what I'm going to say?”
After three days of this, about half of them had a pretty good idea and they nodded their heads yes.
The other half noticed the switch from day to day, and they weren't sure what to expect, and so they shook their heads no.
The novice observed this and said, “Let those who know tell those who don't. Let us stand for the benediction.” (Leith Anderson, Preaching Today #165; www.PreachingToday.com)
We who know Jesus desire to tell these who don’t know Him, because He means so much to us; but like that novice, the thought of it scares some of us. We don’t want to offend, and we want to present Jesus in such a way that our friends and family members want to get to know Him too, but we’re not sure how they’ll respond, so we hesitate.
But the question is: How can we tell people about Jesus in such a way that they will listen and respond? How can we talk about our relationship with Christ in such a way that people want to get to know Him too?
Colossians 4:2-4 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. (NIV)
If you want to talk to others about God, then first of all…
TALK TO GOD ABOUT OTHERS.
Spend some time in prayer, and ask God for some opportunities to share, but talk to God faithfully. Pray constantly or with a persistent obstinacy.
Verse 2 says, “Devote yourselves to prayer” – literally, be strong towards prayer.
In other words, NEVER GIVE UP! Never give up praying for your friends. Never give up praying for your family members who don’t know Jesus yet. Never give up praying that God would use you to bring others to Himself.
A Christian fisherman, who hadn’t talked to the Lord in quite a while was at sea with some of his friends when a storm came up and threatened to sink their ship. His friends begged him to pray; but he refused, saying, “It’s been a long time since I’ve done that or even entered a church.” At their insistence, however, he finally cried out, “O Lord, I haven’t asked anything of your in 15 years, and if You help us now and bring us safely to land, I promise I won’t bother You again for another 15! (The Prairie Overcomer; Bible Illustrator #1089, 6/2068.6)
Sad to say: that describes the prayer life of many Christians. They only talk to God in emergencies or only every once in a while. But prayer, to be effective, needs to be every day. Powerful prayer is persistent prayer. So when you talk to God about others, talk to God faithfully.
More than that, talk to God vigilantly. Pray with your eyes wide open. Ask God looking for His answer.