Charles Brammall’s column What I Learned by Making Every Mistake in the Book as A Christian
D.L. Moody was a 19th-century American evangelist and publisher who was connected with the Keswick Convention in the Lake District of England (a relative of the Katoomba Christian Convention). He made a list of 100 non-Christian friends and prayed for them daily for the rest of his life.
By the time he died, 96 of them had surrendered to Christ, and the last four became Christians at his funeral.
You may never see the fruit of your prayer, but don’t let that discourage you. God is powerful and merciful, and no nut is too hard for Him to crack. Look at Paul, the apostle – before his conversion, he was a hard nut, if ever there was one. No amount of haranguing on my part can bring someone to repentance; only God can do that. So it would be crazy not to ask him. It’s also a great reminder that it’s not me doing it but the Lord.
I have started doing this, putting a list on my phone so I can pray wherever I am. And I’ve found that as time goes on, I’ve begun to memorise the list, even without meaning to, so I don’t have to look at it as often anymore – I can do it driving, walking the dog, doing playground duty, etc. It’s surprising how easy it is to come up with 100 people if you put your mind to it.
Make your list up from relatives, friends from school, uni, TAFE or work, neighbours, your godkids and if they’re old enough, their partners and kids, your ex-spouse who is no longer walking with the Lord, particularly difficult kids at your school if you’re a teacher, friends from when you were an exchange student overseas, parents or your kids’ friends from school, people in your sport team, people at your church who are not yet Christians, your doctor, vet, and dentist; gay, trans, gender fluid and non-binary friends, people from your dog park, ex-girlfriends and boyfriends and their partners and kids, old teachers, locals who regularly walk past your place, friends who are in cults, or have fallen away because of them, the guys who work in 7-Eleven where you get your daily coffee etc…
I’ve also found this list very helpful for motivating me to say something when I see these people – tell them you just prayed for them, ask what you can pray about for them, invite them to church or Bible study or an evangelistic event, give them a Christian book, pray for creative opportunities to chat to them about the LORD (i.e., try to “answer your own prayer” for them in that way, heretical as that sounds).
I have recently found out from a mutual friend that five of the people I have been praying for in the US are now believers; a lady here has become one; one chap I baptised as an adult many years ago has just passed away, and I believe he may have become a believer before he died. I think a dear friend of ours who has started coming to church with us is on her way into a relationship with God. He is good all the time.
I have always been encouraged and challenged by a friend at uni who talks about non-Christian friends as people who “haven’t become Christians yet.”
We have been praying for our dear non-Christian friend I mentioned above for many decades now and seeking to introduce them to Jesus. In the last six months, they have come to church with us 15 times, and several times, they have initiated it, which has never happened before. We use any excuse to ask them to church – like when Chiq is leading singing, or one of us is being interviewed, or once when I was playing drums. And we always invite them to lunch afterwards and shout them, as an added incentive.
Often, they get a different “take home message” from the sermon (or even a song!) each time they come. They have begun to talk about their “faith journey”, and a while ago said something like, “I feel like I jump in and out of faith”, and “I get it intellectually, but…” It’s exciting. God is kind.
We have recently asked them if they’d like to read a chapter of the Bible with us, just as a one-off – their choice of chapter and their choice of place – either ours or theirs – whichever is most comfortable for them. They said, “I’ll get back to you”, but they’re yet to respond. So here’s praying! But in the background, we’re praying that reading the Bible together becomes a regular thing and not just a one-off. It could become the beginning of a little evangelistic Bible study group. We figure that we won’t lose them as a friend; the friendship is so strong and long-lasting.
I’m getting to know four Muslim guys who work at my local 7-Eleven as well, and I am planning somehow to ask them if they’d like to read part of the Bible with me for an hour and chat about that and the Quran (which they’ve never read).
Pray for opportunities to chat with people and the courage to do it. I imagine Paul may have felt scared about sharing the gospel sometimes, as we do:
Col 4:4- Pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ… Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.
Pray that people ask you questions about Jesus and that you are prepared with an answer:
1 Pet 3:15- “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”