The folks at our local bakery are some of the most effective marketers I know. They don't give you a sales pitch, they don't have highly creative advertising. They just offer samples. For free - one of my favorite words. I walk in to buy two bagels. There, on a plate on top of the display case, are these little bites of cheesecake, and a little sign that invites me to try one. So, I do. I walk out of that bakery with my two bagels and a cheesecake. Now I hadn't planned to get a cheesecake, but they sold it in the best possible way, just by letting me taste it. The taste made me want the whole cheesecake!
Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Tasting the Relationship."
Now how do you get someone to develop an appetite for a closer relationship with God? Maybe by giving them a taste of it. Not a sales pitch or an advertising campaign, but a taste. Like the Bible says, a chance to "taste and see that the Lord is good" (Psalm 34:8). And there are few spiritual treasures more valuable to develop in a person than learning to pray. As simple as prayer might seem in some ways, many people around you - even members of your own family - either don't feel interested or don't feel comfortable when it comes to prayer.
When people spent time with Jesus, they learned to pray. When people spend time with you, do they learn to pray, do they develop an appetite for praying? We get a glimpse at how Jesus went about it in our word for today from the Word of God in John 11:38. The scene is the grave of his friend Lazarus where Jesus is finding great grief and despair. No one suspects that in a matter of moments Jesus will raise Lazarus from the dead. But first, prayer.
The Bible says, "Take away the stone, 'He said...So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, 'Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. I knew that You always hear Me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe You sent Me." Jesus is praying in front of these people, but, as He said, primarily for their benefit. He was letting them watch Him pray in an impossible situation, intending that this taste of praying in faith might make them develop an appetite for the same thing.
He didn't preach a lot of sermons on prayer to His disciples. But they saw Him or heard Him praying in all kinds of situations. For their Master, prayer was a lifestyle, not just a meeting He went to or a binge in the morning. And sure enough, He gave them enough tastes of it that one day they wanted the cheesecake - they said, "Lord, teach us to pray." And ultimately they became powerful prayer warriors themselves, infecting other people with the contagion.
So, let me encourage you to let people see and hear you praying for them and for others. Not in a show-off way like the Pharisees. Not to impress people with your spirituality or to have a spiritual edge on others. But when the Holy Spirit prompts you to pray and you're with someone else in a place where it can be done graciously, who not include them? We often promise someone, "I'll pray for you." Which we sometimes forget to do. Why not ask them, "May I pray with you right now?" It means so much to people to hear someone actually praying for them. You're encouraging them - but you're also teaching them how to pray.
Our kids tell us that they've never forgotten walking in on us, kneeling by our bed, praying for them. Let your kids learn to pray by hearing you pray with and for them. Pray with people over the phone, in your office, in the hospital. Pray for all kinds of situations that need the touch of God. Give people a taste of your praising God humbly and then your believing God fervently for things only He could do.
People develop an appetite for prayer when they taste it through an attractive sample in someone's life. May you be that kind of sample of a praying man or woman - living proof of "what a friend we have in Jesus."