In the middle of New York City, complete strangers have walked up to Tom Kiser and asked him to pray for them. What does he do to attract this interest?
Tom is the founder of Prayer Stand International, a small ministry which offers powerful tools and training to help believers share their faith. For 13 years he has set up “Prayer Stands” in New York City and more recently, Cincinnati, sharing the love of Christ with anyone who stops and asks for prayer.
The Prayer Stands have been such an effective evangelistic tool that Tom wanted to make the idea even more accessible to other believers. He has replaced the original prayer tables with a ten-foot-high stand that sports a colorful prayer banner and a weatherproof tract rack. It sets up in just a couple of minutes and collapses quickly to fit into a duffel bag for travel.
Tom hears success stories all the time. One pastor set up a prayer stand twice a week by a public high school. Soon he was praying with an average of fifty students and teachers every time he set up, establishing relationships that opened the door for sharing the gospel. A new believer in his eighties described his experience sharing the gospel the first day he set up a Prayer Stand as the best day of his life!
Setting up prayer stands in public places is a way to show the love of Christ, and it opens the door to conversations about spiritual needs.
Some of the best spots to set up are high-traffic areas at colleges and near high schools. Students are particularly interested in discussing philosophical and religious questions, and Tom finds many opportunities to give a reasoned defense of his faith. Tom welcomes discussion.
He even enjoys hecklers. “I love them,” he says. “I’d rather a heckler spit it out than live in his own little world, blindly tripping his way to the cliff of eternity, and plunge into hell. I’d rather he spit it in my face so I can give him a reason of the hope that dwells in me.”
But most of the time, the encounters aren’t hostile. Tom says 95 percent of the people who approach him are interested in spiritual things or they wouldn’t have walked up. Praying for people is an instant icebreaker for conversations about spiritual needs.
Tom is driven by the knowledge that “when we’re not ashamed of Jesus Christ, He’s not ashamed of us.” As we obey His command to proclaim the gospel throughout the world, He promises, “
And lo, I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20).
Find more information about Prayer Stand ministry at www.prayerstand.com
Whether you use a prayer stand from Prayer Stand International or devise your own, God will bless your effort to proclaim Him in public. Tom Kiser offers important tips.
Set up your prayer stand where people congregate. Supermarket parking lots or busy city squares are good places, as long as you’re not obstructing traffic.
The goal is not just to reach souls but to make disciples. Ask for contact information and permission to call so you can help new believers grow and connect to a local church, or maintain contact with people who are interested but not yet saved. You may even be able to reach whole families when you follow up.
Not every prayer will include a gospel theme. You’ll get requests to pray for someone’s lost dog or their back problems. Take them seriously; you may be the only person who has shown any concern for them.
The bottom line in any outreach is, do you really care for the person or are you just trying to win an argument? If you act in love, honor God’s Word, and allow the Holy Spirit to guide you, He will defuse a lot of hostility.
Listen respectfully when people challenge your faith, even if you think their arguments are lame. Then bring them back to why you’re there: to pray with people and to talk about Jesus Christ, who transformed your heart.
If someone berates you and accuses you of ignorance, don’t be discouraged. In the small percentage of times when this happens, they usually bring out some of the same old arguments that you’ll quickly become familiar with. You’ll soon be presenting God’s precious truth in a compelling way (1 Peter 3:14–17).
Study and be ready to give a defense of the hope God has given you. Even if you don’t know a particular answer, you know the God who has all the answers and you can talk about Him. So tell skeptics honestly that as they get to know God and His Word, it will address the bulk of their questions.
You shouldn’t need permission to set up a prayer stand in a reasonable public location. Exercise common sense, and if you do set up somewhere you’re not supposed to, someone will let you know. Watch your motives. Remember, the prayer stand is not where you have your private devotions so the public can see you’re religious. If your motive is to look spiritual, stay home. Pray. It’s clear that if you are offering to pray for others in public, you should be praying regularly in private, too. Ask God to use you in every divine appointment that comes your way.
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