Monday, July 5, 2010

08 Lay the Groundwork for Witnessing

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The first thing necessary in laying the groundwork for witnessing is that we pray. There is no substitute for this. It is impossible to be a successful soul-winner apart from constant and fervent prayer. We need to ask the Lord for wisdom so that we will know for which person or persons for which we should pray. God prepares certain hearts to hear the gospel, and He does that as we pray.


The story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch is a good example of this. Philip was in the middle of a very successful evangelistic campaign when he was told by God to go to another place. "And the Spirit of God came to Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza... And he arose and went." When he arrived there, he saw a man who, as he journeyed to his distant home in his chariot, was reading Isaiah the prophet. "Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot." Philip did so and was used of God to lead the eunuch to Christ. In this we see how the Holy Spirit led Philip to a particular individual. God will also lead us with regard to those for whom we should pray.

Usually, the ones whom God has placed within the sphere of our own personal influence are the persons for our personal prayer list - friends, relatives, neighbors, and business associates. Let us start praying for them, daily regularly, and fervently.

Some may wonder, "What should I ask of God concerning them?" One thing we could ask is that the hostility or the indifference they may have for the gospel of the Lord Jesus, might be broken down. Having prayed in this manner, we will later find, as we approach them, that the way has been prepared. Just as an electric eye opens a door ahead of us, so prayer opens the door for our witnessing.

In the second place, we can pray that the soil of their hearts will be prepared for the seed of the Word. It is the Holy Spirit who convicts of sin and points to the Lord Jesus Christ. The Spirit of God will do His work in answer to prayer of we pray specifically and definitely. On this particular point, it is well to consider thoughtfully John 16:8-11 where we are told of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. "And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged."

We must pray too that the person may be liberated from the power of Satan, that blindness may be removed from their spiritual eyes. The Bible says, "The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not" (II Cor. 4:4). We must, therefore, pray for specific individuals and pray with these definite things in mind. As someone has said, "Be definite with God, and He will be definite with you."

Furthermore, we need to pray for courage to speak for Christ. This fact, we have considered in a previous chapter, but it bears repeating. The apostles found it necessary to make such a request to God. "And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word" (Acts 4:29). These men wanted unembarrassed freedom of speech in order to proclaim the Word of God.

In that same chapter, we read the answers to this prayer. "And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness" (vs. 31).

Again we read, "And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all" (vs. 33). We will find that by our praying regularly, daily, and specifically, God will give us boldness to speak for Jesus Christ. Prayer, then, is the first thing needed in laying the groundwork for witnessing. Begin now!

In this connection it is a good thing to make a prayer list consisting of the names of our unsaved friends for whom we are going to pray regularly. Then, as the weeks and the months and years go by, we will see how God answers our prayers.


Not only must we start praying, but we must use such opportunities for witnessing as come our way. Some person may object by saying, "Well, I don't have many opportunities."

Actually, we need only one. Why should we have two or three opportunities if we have not yet taken advantage of the one the Lord has given us?

We must ever be on the alert for such chances to witness. Most of us see what we are interested in. If we are desirous of taking opportunities to witness for Christ, we will see them. If we are not desirous of doing so, we are not likely to see them.

People all around us today are unhappy. They may have lovely homes, have new cars in the driveway, be well dressed, and yet this could well be the true situation: "Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful; and the end of that mirth is heaviness" (Prov. 14:13). They may be putting smiles on their faces and hiding tears in their hearts. I am convinced that if we could look deep into the souls of people who live in our block or the people who walk by any given intersection in any town or country, we would see in most cases heartache, difficulty, frustration, or fear. Those closest to us often times have the greatest needs. So we must be alert for opportunities that the Spirit of God will bring to us.

People are hungry today for something that will satisfy them spiritually. Men of God who have been in the Lord's work for many years tell me that it is easier to talk to men and women about Christ, today, than at any other time in their experience.

We must learn to be friendly to all. As Proverbs says, "A man that hath friends must show himself friendly." We must follow the example of the Lord Jesus of whom it was said, "Then drew near unto him all the publicans sinners for to hear him" (Luke 15:1). The common people heard him gladly. The publicans and sinners came to hear him gladly. He was a friend to all of them. We too should be friendly to all.

We can be friendly without jeopardizing our testimony. We must avoid the "holier than thou" attitude. The Lord Jesus ate with sinners though He was criticized for it. In defense of His actions He said: "They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance" (Mark 2:17). A friendly attitude will open many a door to our witness for Christ.

Added to all this, of course, is living the Christian life. That life lived in the power of the Holy Spirit, is a joyful, attractive life. Remember in this connection that Christians are to be the salt of the earth.

The little girl in a Sunday School was asked: "What is salt?"

She said: "Salt is to make people thirsty."

Now, perhaps you and I cannot make people drink, so to speak, but we can make them thirsty for spiritual things by the kind of a life that is filled with joy and victory in the Lord Jesus Christ. When they turn to Him they will be satisfied (John 4:10).

In order to make opportunities, we must demonstrate sincere interest in people and show love for them. It says of the Lord Jesus in Acts 10:38 that He "went about doing good." Someone has commented on that passage: "The Lord Jesus went about doing good, but it seems as if we just go about."

We must ask God to show us ways and means to do good to people. To show our love we may need to visit them. There may be occasions when taking over a batch of cookies or a cake to a neighbor will open a heart to listen to our witness. To be helpful at a time of difficulty or sorrow may create the desired opportunity. Some little, thoughtful courtesy with no stings attached, may be what God will use in our contacts with a person. In fishing we must go where the fish are, and count no opportunity too small.

By way of laying the groundwork for witnessing, first, start praying. Secondly, be alert for every opportunity. Be genuinely friendly and live the kind of life that makes the Christian life attractive. Demonstrate a sincere interest in others by doing the little, thoughtful courtesies that show your love for them.


1. Memorize Psalm 122:1 and Titus 3:8.

2. Start a prayer list of unsaved friends for whom you are going to pray regularly.

3. List what you consider to be the three most effective means to get an opportunity to witness.

4. List some specific ways that you can go about getting an opportunity for personal witnessing with someone whom you know.

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