Prayer Guides | Vol 6, Days 11-20

    May 29, 2020 | Prayer Guides by Various Authors

    The Christian Testimony

    Day 11 - What is the Christian Testimony              

    Psalm 71:15–18 My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all the day, for their number is past my knowledge. With the mighty deeds of the Lord God I will come; I will remind them of your righteousness, yours alone. O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.

    Everyone has a story. This is a common saying that we hear often in our society these days. There are triumphs and tribulations that have molded a person into who they are today; countless stories that usually promote self-help, self-reliance and self-victory. Do you see a common theme here? The focus is on self!

    As believers, the Christian testimony is a story our gracious and merciful God has given us, to tell of His saving work in our lives. A story that should consume us with joy and the desire to share this good news with others! Though this story involves ourselves, it should always point to the One who has saved us. 

    Each believer’s testimony is a beautiful picture of how life looked in brokenness, despair and separation from a Holy God, to the moment of the effective gospel call in their lives that led them to conversion when they placed their faith and trust in the work of Jesus Christ, therefore, being redeemed, justified and adopted by the Father. It is only in and through Him that we can proclaim this story. But the Christian testimony doesn’t stop there. It is also about life after conversion and the regeneration that takes place in a believer’s life. This change of heart is described in Ezekiel 36:26 when God says, “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”

    God’s Word tells us that we are to share our testimony and proclaim His excellency! 

    Questions to Consider: Recall the details of your salvation. What is your personal testimony? Does it point to the One who saved you? 

    Prayer Prompts: 

    • Lord, thank you that because of your saving work in my life, I have a personal testimony. 
    • Help me to have a good understanding of the gospel and my personal testimony so that I can share this good news with others. 
    Day 12 - The Goal of the Christian Testimony  

    Matthew 5:14 You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.

    Growing up I was always interested in hearing someone’s testimony. I was fascinated by all the amazing, tragic and shocking ways people found salvation. I was in it for the story, the dramatic entertainment of it all. Sadly, through all the years and multitudes of testimonies I heard, I never once heard the gospel being shared—not one single time. I remained entertained, but lost. 

    The gospel IS the goal of a testimony.  

    A Christian’s testimony is a tool that can be used to share the gospel, to glorify God and to let others know how we came to know the Lord. As you write your testimony for the first time or as you revise it, it is important to remember that you should keep the focus on Him, not on you. 

    Think of your written testimony as building a house. The gospel is the support beams, the walls, the roof—it’s the house. The parts of your testimony that focus on you are the small personal touches that make your house your own, like pictures or flowers; however, the house is still the main and dominating focus.

    Your testimony is your opportunity to share the good news with the world. It is important that in the time you have with that person, you share what God wants them to know about Him. You may only have 1–2 minutes when you are sharing with someone. In that short time would you rather they know more about you or about the gift of salvation?  

    Question to Consider: When you prepare your testimony and share it with others, is your goal to shine light on the good news of the gospel or on your own personal story?

    Prayer Prompts:

    • Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witness in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the Earth.   
    • Take some time and pray this verse, consider how you will be a witness for our Heavenly Father as you share the gospel through your testimony.

    Day 13 - Pitfalls of the Christian Testimony    

    John 3:30 “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

    Just tell your story. How hard could that be? Because it is our story, we may be prone to think our testimony requires no preparation or planning. Yet, more often than not, we can become nervous, distracted, and even lead ourselves down rabbit trails that divert us from our primary goal: exalting Christ. Consequently, this can result in squandering our opportunities with others to exalt Christ. This is why a little forethought and effort in preparing our testimony can go a long way. 

    The very first pitfall of the Christian testimony is not preparing a well thought out, written version of your testimony. We fall into the trap of thinking, “I can do this on the spur of the moment and it will come out perfectly given the time frame I have.” Time allowances vary from situation to situation so we need to adjust what we say—on the fly. That is more challenging than you might think. Friend, for the majority of us, we need to put some effort and thought into what we will say before we say it. If we don’t, we will focus on the wrong person.

    The second pitfall is believing the myth that people really are interested in your amazing (or disastrous) performance in the third-grade play. Rabbit trails—they are the death of testimonies. Testimonies when paired with the gospel must stay on track. Again, time is usually limited. What is so special, important, and cherished (or painful) to us from our past is not the purpose of our testimony. Keep the main thing the main thing—Jesus Christ. 

    A third pitfall, not too dissimilar from rabbit trails, is what has come to be called the “Selfie Testimony.” It is pretty much what you would think—testimonies that center on our lives rather than on Christ. One writer describes these as “Look! God is great because me me me. These are not road-to-Damascus stories, but spiritually tinted selfies.” As stated in yesterday’s journal entry: The gospel IS the goal of a testimony.

    Questions to Consider:

    Do you have a testimony written down? Is there room for improvement with how you present your testimony?

    Prayer Prompt:

    • Pray that your efforts to put into practice all that this prayer journal teaches would be blessed and fruitful as you seek to share the good news of Jesus Christ. 
    Day 14 - Anatomy of a Christian Testimony - Before Christ

    Ephesians 2:1–3 “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world . . . among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”

    A testimony is not about you . . . even though it is your testimony. It should be totally focused on pointing others to Jesus. The next three days will be spent sharing how a Christian testimony can be written. There should be three essential parts: Before Christ, Trusting Christ, and After Christ. Today I will focus on the “Before Christ” portion of the testimony. 

    When beginning a salvation story, it is important to identify how life was not fulfilling. Or perhaps it was fulfilling, and the problem is a question such as “Why does a good God allow suffering and evil?” Or you can explain how you were in disobedience to God, to parents, to authority, and the like. It does not have to be radical; it can simply be “I was once lost, but now I am found.”

    Here is an example of a before:

    I grew up with a single mom, who along with grandparents took me to church at every opportunity. Because I did not want to disappoint anyone, I tried my best to be good. In fact, I thought I was good enough for God, too. I was a good girl, made good grades in school, and was a friend to many. My life was considered by many to be near perfect. However, I knew that I felt empty and sad most of the time, even though I did everything to the best of my ability. As a teen, my goodness was not enough to fill the overwhelming sadness.

    Questions to Consider: How can you convey to others that you once were a person who deliberately broke God’s perfect law? Is it possible to share your story and still point toward Jesus and His glory?

    Prayer Prompts:

    • Prepare my thoughts as I begin to think about my testimony and how to prepare it.
    • Guide my words as I seek to share with others the life I led before God initiated His good work in my life.
    • Lord, use my life as an example to others who may be similar to me in their lives before Christ.

    Day 15 - Anatomy of a Christian Testimony - Trusting Christ

    Ephesians 2:4–5 “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.”

    Today we will focus on the second part of a testimony—trusting Christ. As Ephesians 2:4 states, “But God,” we must remember that in contrast to our willful disobedience and walking in sin, God “being rich in mercy . . . made us alive together with Christ.” Now is where you focus on how you became a Christian. Describe the circumstances that caused you to consider Christ; identify the events that led to your conversion. Tell the gospel in clear statements.

    Here is an example of trusting Christ:

    At church I began to listen as the pastor explained we are all sinners. To sin means to fall short of God’s perfect standard. The Bible says sin separates us from a holy God, and the penalty for sin is death. I understood Jesus was truly God; that Jesus became man and lived the life of perfect goodness I could not; that Jesus died and was resurrected from death on the third day. Jesus lived the perfect life in my place—the very life that I was created to live. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we still sinners, Christ died for us.” Jesus took my place and received from God the penalty for sin in my place.

    The Lord graciously revealed to me that I was spiritually dead and separated from God, and that my goodness was really only for myself. On that day I asked God to forgive me for my unbelief in Jesus and to forgive me for sins against Him. I admitted that Jesus was the Son of God and that His work was sufficient to give me a right standing before God. I realized it was not enough to just know about Jesus, but that I needed to know Him personally.

    Question to Consider: How can I share the gospel in a concise way? 

    Prayer Prompts:

    • Guide my words as I begin to write my salvation story.
    • Let my words of your gospel be used to help others understand your love for them.

    Day 16 - Anatomy of a Christian Testimony - After Christ

    1 John 1:3 “That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.”

    The focus today is on the third part of a testimony—after Christ. In the before, you expressed your understanding of the truth—you were estranged from God and could not mend that broken relationship by your own efforts. The objective now is to briefly show the difference that Christ has made in your life. Remember you are not trying to sell Christ to anyone. Do not make your testimony sound like you now have “health, wealth, and happiness” and others can have the same. 

    Here is an example of after Christ:

    After salvation, I grew very slowly in my faith. However, God is faithful and reliable. I read my Bible and began to understand it as I attended church and other activities. The desire to be good still remained in me, but now I was good out of love and gratitude for Jesus and all that He had done for me. In Christ I am a child of God, forgiven of all the wrong that I have done. Ephesians 2:1 states, “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” I found contentment and peace and a desire to know Him more. And above and beyond all of that, I have eternal life with Christ. 

    Questions to Consider: Perhaps there were remarkable changes in your life after you came to know the Lord. Maybe life stayed the same. What did not remain the same is your position before God: before Christ you were alienated and apart from God and after Christ you were reconciled to God and became His child.

    What words can you use in your testimony to point others to Christ? What is holding you back from writing down your story, emphasizing the good news of Jesus?

    Prayer Prompts:

    • Father, help me to construct a testimony that will give glory to Christ using the context of who I was, how I came to trust Christ, and who I am now.
    • Father, I want to worship you in everything I do, including preparing my testimony. Prepare for me, even now, a variety of settings where I can speak or write my testimony to others. 
    Day 17 - Length of the Christian Testimony 

    1 Corinthians 15:3–4 “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”

    Several times in the New Testament we are told to imitate Paul (1 Corinthians 4:16 and 11:1; Philippians 4:9). One intentional way to follow his lead is to share the gospel in a succinct conversation. Notice today’s verses—the good news in one run-on sentence, a writing trademark of Paul. 

    Yet, what depth he teaches. We are sinners. Jesus died in our place, He was buried, and He rose again—all as the Old Testament prophesied (Isaiah 53). The words received and delivered reveal the importance of passing along everything we’ve heard and received in the gospel—nothing left out or distorted. Consider Christians as middle runners in a relay race. We must receive the good news of the gospel and pass it along to someone else.  

    There are times the gospel delivery needs to be brief, as short as one minute—in line at a store, on an elevator, or in prayer before a holiday family meal. Other opportunities, we may have a 3 or 5-minute dialogue—over coffee, in the break room, over Zoom, or in the yard with a neighbor.

     As we learn to share the gospel through our testimony, consider what could be left out or added for brief 1, 3, or 5-minute gospel opportunities. Remember, the gospel is the focus. 

    Questions to Consider: Do I view myself as privileged to receive and pass on the gospel? Is sharing the gospel important to me? Which life situations could I be intentional to briefly share the gospel through my testimony? 

    Prayer Prompts: 

    • Father, help me better appreciate the gospel I’ve received. 
    • Please prepare the opportunities for me to share my testimony in brief ways. Use Your Spirit to heighten my awareness and help me obey. 

    Day 18 - Prepare a Christian Testimony 

    John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one comes to the Father but through Me.’”

    We hear much about preparedness these days. Being physically prepared is important, yet how much more eternal impact spiritual preparedness has. As we look to incorporate all we’re learning about sharing our testimony, it is time to actually write it. 

    Begin prayerfully. Put time and effort into writing. Consider starting with three paragraphs; one about separation from God before salvation, one focusing on the gospel when saved, and one paragraph about how God is graciously walking with us and giving us hope. It’s all right to work through a couple of drafts. When finished, ask a pastor or trusted believer to go through it and give feedback. Having another set of eyes is a blessing to us as we grow in this area. 

    In John 14 Jesus is addressing the fears of the disciples by giving hope in an eternal relationship with Him. Similarly, those around us have great anxieties, and only the truth of the gospel can restore. We are sinners, separated from God, and Jesus alone saves. Church attendance (John 5:39–40), good deeds, or moral living cannot redeem. Only in Christ do we have forgiveness, restored relationship, and eternal life. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life revealed to us—God in the flesh.

    Questions to Consider: How do I sin by trusting in myself? Have I allowed culture or other religions to sway my thinking about the focus of salvation? (Acts 4:12) 

    Prayer Prompts: 

    • Father, help me be prepared to share my testimony.  Help me focus on You in what I write. 
    • Use what You have already done in me as an example to those around me. Use this story to bring others to Yourself. You and Your history of redemption are glorious!   

    Day 19 - Don’t Sell Jesus

    1 John 5:12, He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.

    To be sure, salvation is a work of our gracious God as He “made us alive together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:5). Because of God’s great work of salvation believers have been moved from death to life (John 3:16). 

    With Christ as Savior, and the Holy Spirit indwelling us, some believers may even experience wonderful changes in their earthly circumstances. For some, the circumstances of their marriages, relationships, family, work, or even health may see evidence of restoration. Yet, for others life does not get easier. Sometimes suffering and pain continue even after one comes to know Christ. Diseases remain, relationships crumble, and sin tempts us daily (Rom 7:15). Indeed, life may get even harder (John 16:33). 

    What does this have to do with sharing our testimony? Sometimes, for those whom God sovereignly works amidst difficult circumstances, believers may speak of circumstantial restorations more so than the core message of the gospel—and in doing so shift the focus away from Christ. This can result in listeners understanding the gospel as, “If I get saved, God will fix all my problems.” The Bible speaks of no such thing. While it is true, some may have circumstantial recovery; others do not. Frankly, the Christian life is often “grieved by various trials” (1 Peter 1:6).

     Friend, we want to be sure we speak of God, the gospel, and the work of Christ rightly. Let’s keep our focus on Christ and not on the ebb and flow of our circumstances. God is great not because of our circumstance but because God is God. When giving your testimony, remember the words of Paul “because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). That’s the heart of the gospel. 

    Questions to Consider: If you have never written out your testimony, we highly recommend you do so. If you have put your testimony in words, what seems to be the main message? What do you spend the most time talking about? Consider having another mature believer (or two) review your written testimony. 

    Prayer Prompt:

    • Father, I desire to exalt you and you alone. As I prepare my testimony help me see areas that need revising or improvement. Guard me from focusing on anything but you. 

    Day 20 - Speak the Same Language

    Colossians 4:3-4 At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison—that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.

    You hear it all the time. Someone is trying to learn a second language and engages in conversation with a native who actually speaks that language. The one learning the language inevitably uses a word that doesn’t actually mean what they think it means. Sometimes those foreign language stories can be quite funny. Other times the miscommunication is painfully awkward or embarrassing. Even when people do speak the same language, words can mean different things to different people. As a matter of fact, words can even change meaning from one part of the country to another. 

    To muddy the water even further, Christians have cultivated their own language within the faith. This language is known as “Christianese”—a vocabulary spoken by Christians that is not easily understood by those outside the community of faith. Sometimes believers can become so accustomed to using these words, phrases, and jargon that it becomes second nature to them. We easily forget that this jargon is “like Greek” to those with whom we speak about the gospel and our testimony. 

    Friends, we must remember, when talking with those outside the faith, it is important to refrain from using “church words” that our listeners don’t understand. These are words such as redemption, saved, born again, covenant, holy, disciple, election, justification, reconciliation, repentance, atonement. Those outside the faith in all likelihood have no experience with these words or, if they do, they very well may not understand them correctly. 

    Let’s make sure our listeners actually understand what we’re saying. Use common, everyday language that even a child could grasp. If you do use words like sin or grace or saved, make sure to clearly define them as you speak. 

    Questions to Consider: Do you remember what it was like before you were saved and knew very little about the Christian faith? What confused you? Were there words you did not understand? What words of the Christian faith do you use regularly? 

    Prayer Prompt:

    • Father, I too like Paul desire to “make it clear” that the message of Christ is understood. Help me recognize when I need to stop and explain words or concepts particular to the faith.