How to Talk to God About Those We Love (and how to talk to those we love about God)
HOW TO TALK TO GOD ABOUT THOSE WE LOVE.
One of the biggest challenges in developing the habit of praying consistently for those we love is knowing what to actually say when it comes time to pray. We want to pray for them. We know we should pray for them. But when we do, our minds wander and we slip into repetitive clichés. When we pray for others, what should we actually say?
David Powlison, in his wonderful book Speaking the Truth in Love, says that all prayers in the Bible fall into three basic categories:
Prayers where people are asking God to change their circumstances.
Prayers where they are asking God to change them.
Prayers where they are asking God to change everything by revealing Himself.
That really does cover the whole waterfront, doesn’t it? And these categories offer a very helpful mental grid for giving order and structure to our praying for others.
1. We can pray for their situations and circumstances, asking God to heal them if they are sick, give them their daily bread, provide the job, provide the break, provide a spouse, provide the money, protect them from suffering, protect their children, convert their friends and loved ones, make their work prosper, help their children to prosper, etc… Here we want to focus on any physical or material need they may have.
2. We can pray for God to change them, by their growing in grace, asking God to deepen their faith, make them wise, make them patient, and humble, help them to know him more, keep them pure, help them to be joyful in all circumstances, peaceful in any storm, etc…
3. And we can pray that God’s kingdom would come. This is the big prayer in the Bible. More prayers are for God to manifest His glory than any other request. So, ask that they would see His glory, that His name would be honored and His will done.
I love the simplicity of this. I have a fondness for organizing things in threes. But I am also convicted that the majority of my praying is generally in category one, about my circumstances. Nonetheless, I think this is a great tool to help organize our prayers and develop a balanced prayer life.
HOW TO TALK TO THOSE WE LOVE ABOUT GOD.
One of the biggest challenges of speaking about the gospel with those we love is knowing what to actually say. We want to share the gospel with them. We know we should share the gospel with them. But when we do, our minds freeze, and we either retreat into repetitive clichés or into silence. When we are talking others about the gospel, what should we actually say? How can we naturally move from normal conversations about our life into spiritual conversations about the next life?
Here are two ways to build conversational bridges by connecting your story and our stories with the story of the world.
The story of the world is: This is God’s good world, ruined by sin, redeemed by the Son, and being recreated by the Spirit.
1. The first is to connect your personal story to that grand story. How are you experiencing the transformative work of God in your life? Share with people how Jesus is saving you now? How are you finding life in his name?
Let our series on the Gospel of John help guide you. John has written that we would know Jesus and in knowing him find life.
How are you finding life in him this week?
He is the Bread of Life — how have you found satisfaction in him?
He is the Light of the World — how does that give you hope when you are bombarded with the darkness of the world?
He is the Good Shepherd — How does that give you comfort when you are tempted to be anxious about your future?
He is the Resurrection and the Life —How does that give you confidence and help you over come your fears?
2. The second is to connect every story with God’s grand story. Look at the stories that are popular in our culture. How do they reflect or deny the true story of the world? For example, living in the shadow of Disney, with two princess-loving little girls, I could point out:
The story of Frozen is really about how self-sacrificial love is really the only power that can break the curse and coldness in the world. And there is no story of self-sacrifice love like our story of how Jesus has redeemed the world. And that if you really “let it go,” with “no right, no wrong, no rules for you,” you will bring isolation upon yourself and devastation on those you love.
Or, how in the story of Beauty and the Beast, Belle doesn’t love the beast because he is beautiful. It is her love for him that makes him beautiful.
That is like Jesus’ love for us. He doesn’t love us because we’re beautiful; His love makes us beautiful.
Or, take the story of Harry Potter, where the major theme of the books is that self-sacrificial love is the greatest power in the world, and how no amount of evil and darkness can truly ever conquer it.
But that is no fairy-tale. The greatest power in the universe is Jesus’ self-sacrificial love, and no darkness can overcome it.
This article was written by Grace Lake Nona Pastor Dr. Ben Bailie and was published in the Live Life Unstoppable issue of Grace Magazine.