Over and over I've seen one simple question open people's hearts to hear the gospel. Until I asked this question, they showed no interest in spiritual matters. But then after six words—only seventeen letters in English—I've seen people suddenly begin to weep and their resistance fall. The question is, "How can I pray for you?"
Most people in the world never hear such a question. And while many churchgoers know that a minister is willing to pray for them, in some traditions they're expected to make a special donation to the church for such services. So when you ask, "How can I pray for you?" and it's obvious that you're asking out of love alone, it can touch a person more deeply than you imagine.
Whitney closes by encouraging readers that if you simply and sincerely ask people this question, you will be surprised at the results. So on the day I read this article last week, I took up Whitney on his challenge. I was having breakfast with a friend, and when the waitress brought our food I said, "My friend and I are about to give thanks to God for our meal; is there anything we can pray for you?"
Without hesitation, the lady said she needed help. When I asked her what she meant, she said "Mental help. My son died seven years ago and I've been in therapy since then and I need help."
As my friend and I prayed, I was reminded that God Himself knows what it's like to a lose a Son, as He gave His beloved Son to be slaughtered for the sins of the world. When the waitress came to check on us, I told her about what God had reminded me of when we were praying, and encouraged her that God could be a strength to her because He can empathize with her pain.
I told her I was a pastor in the area, gave her my card and told her where the church was. Who knows what will come of that, but I was encouraged by the opportunity.
So give it a try this week: ask a stranger how you can pray for them, and leave a comment to tell us what happened.