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As many of you know, I was in Victoria last week with some other pastors from our Canadian Baptist General Conference. One morning, I went for breakfast with another pastor and our executive director, Kevin Schular. (Kevin is actually preaching at The Bridge this Sunday. Great guy. Great leader. You’ll be blessed. Boom.) We engaged the owner of this little place in conversation, and then Kevin did something I don’t know if I had seen done before. When the business owner brought the food to us, Kevin told him in the most nonchalant, casual way that we were about to thank God for our food. Kevin asked if while we were at it, there was anything we could pray for him about. 

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The owner immediately teared up and told us how his marriage was on the rocks. The pandemic had been good for his business but not for his relationship with his wife. He told us how touched he was that we would pray for him, and that his own father had once been a Pentecostal minister. Right there, Kevin prayed for him and for his marriage. He was so full of gratitude. 

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I don’t know what will come of that, but it was so cool seeing God open a door and to have an unexpected opportunity to bless someone in Jesus’ name. I decided to try that myself. I was out for lunch today with someone and when the server brought the food, I followed Kevin’s lead. I said we were about to thank God for our food and if there was anything we could pray for her about. She was surprised- she needed me to repeat it a couple of times to make sure she was hearing me right. But then she lit up and told us about a situation she would for us to pray about. Again, I don’t know what will come of it, but it certainly seemed she was encouraged!

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This is something I realized back in the beginning of the pandemic as well. As a church, we did a sermon series on prayer along with a prayer request initiative. Both on social media as well as on a few strategic bus stop signs in North Vancouver, we invited people to send in a prayer request by text or email. We had about 25 prayer requests from people in the community who we had no previous contact with. There were some situations of real brokenness and need, and although as far as I could tell most of them were not followers of Jesus, they wanted us praying for them. They were willing to make a connection with our church. Of course, there were some trouble-makers on social media who found some way to twist and distort what we were doing (for example, calling us charlatans, assuming we were asking for money in exchange for prayers, which we were definitely not!) But overall, there was gratitude and encouragement and who knows what else.

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Some of you have discovered this as well. Offering prayer is a way to bless others, to share God’s heart with others, to even share the Gospel with others, in a form that most people are open to. Prayer can be evangelistic. You see that in the Scriptures when many people trust in Jesus in response to an answer to prayer (Acts 9:36-43). You see it when Paul believes the fruitfulness of his Gospel-preaching will be dependent on prayer (Ephesians 6:19-20). Prayer is a primary way the Kingdom breaks into our lives and the lives of others.

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Try it out. Next time you’re served in a restaurant, ask if there’s anything you can pray for your server about. Who knows what God will do!

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