An Evangelistic Prayer Meeting (Accidentally)

A couple of weeks ago, Steve K and I were praying on a bench just behind Shops at Don Mills. While Steve was praying, I noticed that a lady sat down on the bench right across from us. I thought, “She must see that we are praying. Our heads are bowed and she can certainly hear Steve. Should I talk to her? God, what do I do?” As soon as Steve was finished praying, I said, “It’s a beautiful day isn’t it.” She responded by telling us how encouraging it is to see people praying in public.

We had to slightly yell to communicate, so Steve and I ended up sitting on the bench with her (not too close though … it was not awkward .. the benches were quite large). With a smile she told us, “I’m a stanch Catholic.” She went on to tell us of some struggles her brother is having. At that time I was able to share what Julian had been preaching on in 1 Peter 1:6-7, that God gives us trials to for the testing of our faith.

She was thankful for what I shared and went on to speak about the goodness of God and our need to follow Him even when times are tough. It was a nice conversation, and it was quite tempting to NOT push to the Gospel, BUT, being compelled by God, I knew it would not please the Lord to let this opportunity pass … how often to we have people approach us in the midst of prayer?!

I asked her, “Do you think God will accept you because of your faith in the work of Christ alone OR  because of your faith in Christ PLUS her efforts of following God?” She was quite sure that her works contributed to her reception of the forgiveness of sins. I asked her if I could show her a passage from the Bible that teaches that savlvation is by faith in the work of Christ alone. She consented. So I opened my Bible to Ephesians 2:8-9 and read it to her. She was silenced and seemed a little surprised. I went over it again, nice and slow.

However, somehow she was able to redirect the conversation. I forget how this happened but suddenly she asked me if she still needs to forgive a family member who has done many wicked things and remains unrepentant. I took her to Matthew 18:21-35 and read it to her. She seemed to want me to move on and just tell her my thoughts … but I persisted in reading Scripture – I figured, “you need the Word, not my opinions; I’m gonna give you the Word.” I emphasized that she must forgive as she’s been forgiven, that is, of course, if she believes she deserves hell and has received God’s unmerited grace. I re-read to her Mt 18:35 – “So also my heavenly Father will do to everyone of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

I asked her if she had unforgiveness and bitterness in her heart (for by the way she talked, it seemed she may be struggling with it). She said, “No, I have forgiven him.” But then she asked me, “How can we know if we’ve forgiven someone?” I took her to Psalm 103 and read these words: “as for as the east is from the west so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” I told her, “when God forgives, he completely removes the sin. He forgets it and he does not hold it against us. He does not hold onto it. It is gone.” She persisted in saying that she had forgiven him, but we continued to chat about this. I forget the exact comment she made at the end, but she basically ended up saying something like, “Maybe I haven’t forgiven him as much as I originally thought.” Then she left.

Now that’s an accidental evangelistic prayer meeting. Be it Ephesians 2, Matthew 18 or Psalm 103, may the Lord use His Word and draw her to the Gospel of his grace.

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5 responses to “An Evangelistic Prayer Meeting (Accidentally)

  1. I am often so very impressed by people who can do what you described in this article. For much of my life I would not consider myself to have been evangelistic. In fact, whenever someone near me shared their faith with others in an evangelistic manner, I found myself uncomfortable.

    But I have had a change of heart. In the past year, or so, I have been more overt in sharing my faith. I thank God for giving me the courage and desire to do this. It is stories like the one you told here which provide me inspiration to obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit when called to reach out to others.

    Additionally, your ability to quote scripture in book/chapter/verse form is quite impressive! I hope that some day God will give me this ability too.

    Thank you for sharing!

    • Thanks so much for your encouragement Ron! Praise the Lord for how He continues to help us grow in faithfulness. I am happy to hear of God’s work in your life! That must be so encouraging and liberating!

      As for my ability to quote Scripture, actually, sometimes I just pull out my Bible and read it to people, but I do quote Scripture sometimes. I have been working at Scripture memory off and on (by the grace of God!) for over ten years. May the Lord help us cultivate this discipline more and more … not only for evangelism, but to help foster meditation on Scripture (Psa 1) for our communion with God.

      Thanks for the encouragement!

  2. Very cool meeting! God arranges our lives so well, doesn’t he? I’m glad you went straight to the heart of the issue and took her to Eph. 2:8-9. Well done!

    About forgiveness: God does not forgive unrepentant sinners, does He? I see no warrant in Scripture for us to be able to forgive someone who does not ask for it. I agree that we should be ready to forgive and to forgive again and again. The grace we extene must be free and generous, as is the grace we have received. I just don’t see anything in Scripture that requires or even describes how we might forgive someone who is unrepentant.

    • Hi Jason, thanks for your encouragement and comments. To answer your questions, (1) No, God does not forgive unrepentant sinners (they must pay for their own sins); but (2) I think there is something in Scripture that describes forgiving someone who is unrepentant OR forgiving someone though the offender hasn’t sought forgiveness – in Mark 11:25, Jesus says, “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” There is no condition here that the offender must be seeking forgiveness. Jesus simply says, “forgive, if you have anything against anyone.” What do you think? I see a distinction between forgiveness and reconciliation. I do not think reconciliation is possible unless the offender asks for forgiveness.

      Also, have you had a chance to read Julian’s post on this topic? Against thanks for your comments and encouragement.

  3. Hi Jason,

    I’ve addressed that question (forgiving those who don’t ask) over at my blog: http://julianfreeman.ca/sermons/forgive-forgiveness

    I hope that is helpful!
    Julian

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