One Simple Way to Jumpstart a Relationship

One Simple Way to Jumpstart a Relationship

neighborWho 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.

Introducing: Hope

Today’s headlines are downright scary but they might not concern you as much what is going on in your own home. Maybe you are emotionally and physically exhausted from a lifestyle that seems mostly out-of-control? Perhaps you find yourself thinking, “I just can’t take it anymore!” Welcome to family life in the 21st Century. Is there any real hope?

I would like to introduce you to hope. Real hope. This is not wishful thinking but confident assurance that despite circumstances, four things can still be true of you and your family.

First, a day will come when sin, death, pain, and suffering will end. These painful challenges will not last forever (Rev. 21:4). They will come to an end. Far better days rare still ahead. Living faithfully today involves remembering this important truth in the midst of the battle and allowing it, rather than our raw emotions, to shape our response to it. I admit that I do not dwell enough upon this important truth. How about you?

Second, God is using even awful circumstances to accomplish his will in your life. In Romans 8:28-29, Paul reminds us that all things, not just the good things, work together for our good. Although we prefer it when things are going great, the truth is, we don’t grow much in those times. We grow better through challenges because they help us see how we are not like Jesus. God’s will is that we grow to live more like who we already are in Christ. This brings God glory and provides us with joy.

Many readers know that one of my children suffers with seizures. I’ll never forget what she said to me one day. “Dad. I’d rather have the seizures and have what I have with Jesus than to not have the seizures and not have what I have with Jesus.” That is 100% real, pure hope talking.

God uses even the bad things in our lives to accomplish good in us even though pain is often involved in the process.  This gives us incredible hope!

Third, there can be “joy” in the midst of suffering. In Hebrews 12:1-2, we read that even Jesus endured the unspeakable shame and suffering of the cross… with joy. How can that be possible? First of all, “Joy” can be but is not necessarily “happiness” or the euphoric feeling when everything is going our way. Jesus was not happy about the excruciating pain of crucifixion. When Peter and John went away rejoicing after being flogged it wasn’t because they enjoyed it. Rather, in each case the joy at its core was a simple yet enduring satisfaction in God alone; doing his will despite the excruciating circumstances that carried them through the suffering.

Fourth, our peace does not depend on our circumstances but on Jesus’ promise. Jesus says in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled. Neither let them be afraid.” Note that there is no qualification on the peace he has given. By faith, we simply need to receive it.

If Jesus has given us peace then we should live in light of that. His peace is lasting and withstands circumstances. The world’s peace is different. It depends upon circumstances and can therefore be taken away when threatening situations arise.

To be clear: we should prayerfully seek to relieve suffering. God does heal! God does restore! Our faith in Christ, built on hope, is powerful enough to do that if God wills. But circumstances don’t always change. Hard-hearted family members only grow more embittered. Financial ends do not meet. The loved one dies. These are the harsh realities of life in a fallen world that often blind us to the hope we need to shun despair or bitterness. Instead, we would do well to exercise a resilient faith that chooses hope.

This is the hope offered through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Perhaps you are losing the battle. Fear, anger, and despair have a grip on you. Have you ever considered a relationship with Jesus Christ? He holds the keys of hope! Perhaps you already know Jesus but are losing the battle. Whatever the case, it is only through the gospel’s message of grace, mercy, and forgiveness that we find the hope needed not merely to hang on but to flourish.