How to Fail at Sharing Your Faith
You can see “How To” books littered throughout the shelves of bookstores across America. People flock to these books because they help you accomplish something specific — something you want to achieve.
In this teaching series at Grace, we will absolutely cover what we need to do as a church to live with gospel intentionality. But here, I want to cover what you need to do to not succeed.
You can do everything right on the outside. You can make intentional choices. You can share your faith actively. You can follow every suggestion on these pages and still not succeed if you leave out one thing:
Oh, come on! you say. We know. We get it. We need to pray. But what else do we really need to be doing?
If we are honest, we probably wonder how much prayer really matters. Prayer doesn’t feel like something we do, it feels like something in addition to the “real things” we do.
We need to pray. As friend of mine who is planting a church in Pine Hills this year says often, and I love it: “Prayer is not a last resort. It is our first response.”
But if that is true, then why do we so often just “forget” about it? At the core, it’s because we don’t believe what Jesus said in John 6:63:
“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all.”
That cuts really to the heart of it.
Jesus is claiming in this sentence that it is only his Spirit that can bring life; our flesh — our own abilities and efforts — is no help at all.
If we truly believed this, then we would lean entirely on His Spirit to accomplish anything spiritual in our lives. So what Jesus is saying is that you can follow everything in this magazine, and read every evangelism book there is in print, and listen to Chris Tomlin worship every morning, but if you do not rely on his Spirit to bring life, then all of your efforts are futile. “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all.”
“Well if that is true, if it is the Spirit alone who brings life, then why should I do anything?” This is the next question that invariably comes up when talking about this. Do we have any responsibility whatsoever? Let’s look at a story from the Bible and see what prayer has to do with God working.
In 2 Kings chapter 20, we read the story of Hezekiah, the king of Judah who had become deathly sick. He was so sick that the prophet Isaiah came with a message from God:
Hezekiah should get his house in order because his days were nearing an end. Here’s what happened:
In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. And Isaiah, the prophet the son of Amoz came to him and said to him, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die; you shall not recover.’” Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, saying, “Now, O LORD, please remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.
And before Isaiah had gone out of the middle court, the word of the LORD came to him: “Turn back, and say to Hezekiah the leader of my people, Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the LORD, and I will add fifteen years to your life. I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria, and I will defend this city for my own sake and for my servant David’s sake.”
Hezekiah didn’t really have hope. God was clear speaking through his prophet: “you shall die; you shall not recover.”
Hezekiah prayed, and something changed; God worked as a result of Hezekiah’s prayer. It seems fair to assume that had Hezekiah not prayed, then he would have died just like Isaiah said. But instead he ran to the Spirit to bring life, and life is exactly what the Spirit brought.
Our prayers matter. They actually change things. And it is actually the most important thing you can do as you make steps towards living with gospel intentionality. It is not a last resort. It is our first response.
So if you don’t want to succeed, don’t pray. But if you want to step out in faithfulness and answer the call that God has given to every person that chooses to follow Him, then we have to do in a spirit of prayer.
Don’t fall into the trap that the enemy has set by doing God’s work our way, relying on how strong our relationships are, or how much theology we may know, or how winsome we are, or how loving we may seem. The worst thing you can do at the end of this study is to walk away and make a list of goals you need to accomplish in order to live missionally and then not pray. As self-reliant Americans, we need to understand this: there is no amount of goal-setting that can raise the dead. That is the Spirit’s job, and he does it far better than you and I could ever dream.
So what is our job, and what is God’s job? Our job is to get the gospel from our lips to people’s ears. It is God’s job to get the gospel form their ears to their hearts. Go and spread that message to the people that God has placed around you, relying on Him fully to work that message into their hearts. Because after all, “It is the Spirit that gives life; the flesh is no help at all.”
This article was written by Grace Clermont Pastor Caleb Brasher and was published in the Live Life Unstoppable issue of Grace Magazine.