6 Words Toward Open Hearts

July 15, 2010

From Donald Whitney:

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?” …

This question is similar to one that Jesus Himself sometimes asked: “What do you want me to do for you?” (Matthew 20:32). For what we are really asking is, “What do you want me to ask Jesus to do for you?” And by means of this question, we can show the love of Christ to people and open hearts previously closed to the gospel.

I had tried to talk about the things of God many times to a business-hardened, retired executive who lived next door. He was a pro at hiding his feelings and keeping conversations at a superficial level. But the day we stood between our homes and I asked, “How can I pray for you?” his eyes filled with tears as his façade of self-sufficiency melted. For the first time in seven years he let me speak with him about Jesus.

It’s a short, easily remembered question. You can use it with longtime friends or with people you’ve just met. It doesn’t seem too personal or pushy for those who’d rather give you a shallow answer just now, and yet it often leads to a full hearing of the gospel. You can ask it of people nearly every time you speak with them and it doesn’t get old. Just simply and sincerely ask, “How can I pray for you?” You’ll be surprised at the results.

2 Responses to “6 Words Toward Open Hearts”

  1. David Alexander Says:

    Extremely good question and shows people love and care. Love it !

  2. michaelrowancurle Says:

    Absolutely true. A year or two ago, I went to Durban with some teenagers for an outreach. We set up a tent on the beach and printed t-shirts and a banner that read, “Can I pray for you?”. You’d be amazed at the results, both in the lives of the teenagers who were forced to be aware of the incredibly complex problems that the strangers we see everyday are living with and who got to see Christ touch people deeply through their prayers, and for the literally hundreds of people who came to the tent for prayer or walked up to a t-shirt wearing teenager. Amazing!


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