Often when I consider the need to reach out to the world around me and my own lack of active outreach I can rationalize that it is because I don’t have the “gift of evangelist.” I would consider Paul the prototypical evangelist–bold, fearless, eloquent, brilliant and knowledgeable. When it comes to outreach I am all to often am the opposite what Paul “seems” to be.Â But while I know that though some might be gifted for evangelism–and I almost envy their gift–Scripture clearly commands all believers to be witnesses.
That is why it is both encouraging and convicting to read what Paul has to say about prayer and outreach.
2 Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. 3 At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison– 4 that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.
5 Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. 6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. (ESV)
Paul asked for prayer and he asked for prayer related to his ability, attitude and availability to do outreach.
The request for prayer was specific:
That God would open doors–prayer for opportunities (this is God’s job to provide the opportunities)
That he would speak with clarity as he should–perhaps meaning that he would not use confusing language, add rules to the simplicity of the gospel, or minimize the truth and requirements of a follower of Jesus Christ.
In Ephesians 6:18-20, a parallel passage to Colossians 4, and as part of his instruction on spiritual warfare, Paul asks his readers to pray for him to speak boldly.Â Paul asking for the courage to speak boldly?!
Combining the requests in both of these passages, Paul asked for prayer for open doors, boldness and clarity then precedes to remind readers of the need to live wisely in contact with unbelievers speaking with gracious pleasing speech.
5 Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. 6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
So outreach started with prayer and requires active involvement with those who don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus.
The challenge for me and others who are not evangelist is to start praying for open door and sensitive to see the opening.
That is my goal–to pray daily for God to do what only He can do, open doors and for me to do what only I can do, share sensitively, graciously, boldly and wisely with those individuals God brings into my path.