Have you ever noticed someone in your daily travels—especially someone who may have done something to annoy you—and said a quick prayer for them?
The person who ran a red light in front of you: “God, this person seems to be in a pretty big hurry. Please protect them and give them peace.”
The tense and irritable person in the supermarket line. “Lord, this person seems anxious and overwhelmed. Give them a sense of your love and presence to lighten their load.”
The co-worker who seems to be down way more often then they’re up. “Father, I don’t know what’s going on inside him, but you do. I pray that your joy will break through to him today in some undeniable way. Use me if it will help accomplish your purpose in his life.”
The power of secret prayer is an undervalued strategy in the process of sharing our faith with others. We often believe evangelism requires a full frontal assault; pepper the person with scripture and spiritual truths, and sooner or later they’ll see the error of their ways and surrender their life to Christ.
But that’s not how we “smuggle the gospel into people’s hearts.” As Ravi Zacharias, who passed away this week, would say, “We must learn to find the back door into people’s hearts, because the front door is heavily guarded.”
Secret prayer is noticing’s first action. We cannot count on religious reasoning or arguments to bring people into a growing relationship with Christ. People don’t want to be convinced, and they certainly don’t want to be “conquered.” They want people in their lives who they can trust, who will show them unconditional love and acceptance. At least at the start, they are much more interested in conversation and connection than they are conversion.
Yet even as people distance themselves from religious persuasiveness, we can pray fervently for God to work in their lives, and open up the path to life-transforming moments and conversations. Our secret prayers for others can be like the gentle but persistent rain that softens the rock-hard clump of dirt that is an unbeliever’s heart.
In the Faith, Hope and Charity Sunday School class, we are working through Henry Blackaby’s fantastic book, Experiencing God. It is interesting to see how much overlap there is with the 9 Arts. One of Blackaby’s key points is that Jesus was always looking to see where his Father was at work. God is always trying to move us from where we are to where he is at work. And when God reveals to us where he is working, that is our invitation to join him.
Secret prayer helps us see where God is at work. And once we begin to secretly pray for someone, God begins to change our heart toward them. Secret prayer prepares us to cooperate with God as he seeks out his lost sheep. In fact, secret prayer invites us to join this search.
So the next time you are in the vicinity of someone you have noticed, send up a silent prayer for them. Don’t close your eyes. Don’t move your lips. Just pray for them as you see them. Pray that they would sense God’s presence in an undeniable way. Then surrender the outcome to God. As we release control of the results, we submit to God’s will and align our hearts with his plans for the people around us.
Prayer: Lord, so often we think sharing our faith is a matter of persuasion. But it’s really about noticing where you are already at work in the lives of others, and being willing to join you. Help us to remember that before we can talk to people about you, we need to talk to you about people. Help us become better secret prayer warriors.