Who are the people you see all the time, but have struggled to connect with? Perhaps your spouse, child, friend at church, or a neighbor? May I suggest that asking the simple question, “How Can I pray for you?”  is a simple, easy way to start or jumpstart a relationship.

Consider the myriads of benefits of such a simple question.

First, it shows genuine concern. How many people come up to you and ask how they can pray for you? When someone does, that communicates a level of concern that makes an impression.

Second, it allows you to get to the deeper issues. Sometimes people will throw a softball answer such as, “Well, I’m having trouble in my job?” (If someone answers this way, respond, “Thanks. Do you mind if I ask what kind of trouble you’re having?” and go from there as you feel led. In my own experience, I often find that they will share something with surprising transparency.

Third, it gives you a very quick avenue to discern (at least in a general sense) where they are spiritually. If the person is not a Christian, you can quickly learn whether or not there is openness to the Gospel.

Fourth, it gives the person someone they know they can come to for spiritual help. Most people do not have quality relationships, to say nothing of relationships where spiritual issues can be discussed. Being willing to pray for others introduces them to the prospect of a real friendship that can provide real meaning and support.

Fifth, it doesn’t take any preparation to ask such a simple question and it does not take a lot of time to ask it.

Sixth, you now have a reason to build the relationship. Go back to the person in a week or two and let them know that you have been praying and that you are wondering how the issue is going. You may even invite them over for dinner.

Who are the people you see all the time, but have struggled to connect with? The simple question, “How can I pray for you?” can help.