It is More Important to Talk to God about Men
than to talk to Men about God.
God has called us to talk to men. We are to affirm the Gospel with our lives and proclaim the Gospel with our words. A testimony of our life alone without relating that the source of our life is Christ is a proclamation of self, not Christ. It is not only important to talk to men about God, it is necessary.
What Howard Hendricks is emphasizing with his remark is the comparison of the overall effectiveness of the two forms of communication. More is accomplished when God works than when man works. To speak to men about God and not to speak to God about men is to neglect the power that God offers. We need to rely on His wisdom rather than on just our own. With the pressure of numerous responsibilities, however, it is not always easy to remember to talk to God consistently about the people with whom we are working.
Leroy Eims tells the following story in his book “The Lost Art of Disciple Making,” Zondervan Publishing House 1978 Pg 69-70. “J.O. Fraser was a missionary in Southwest China, ministering to tribal people living in that very mountainous region. After some years, he noticed a strange thing. The churches which were miles away from the city in which he was living seemed to do better than the church in his own town. He would visit the distant churches occasionally and discovered that they were healthy, active, dedicated, and growing, much more so than the church in which he ministered regularly. Why was that so? Finally the LORD showed him. He found out that he prayed far more diligently for people who were miles away than for those with whom he fellowshipped regularly. From this discovery he concluded that there were four basic elements in developing disciples and churches: prayer, prayer, prayer and the Word of God.”
A close friend for many years had steadfastly refused any efforts on my part to share the Gospel. He would stiffen visibly whenever the subject was introduced. He moved to another town and I would occasionally call and send some books that I thought might interest him. All to no avail. The only recourse was to pray. Some months after I began to do this he called and said that the Lord had brought some circumstances into his life that were a wake up call to him. It was entirely God’s work in bringing him to repentance and faith in answer to prayer.
At one time, I was meeting with a young man who, although he knew the Lord, was struggling with consistency in his life. The material which we were reviewing and discussing had not been reviewed by him on multiple occasions. Out of frustration, I said to the Lord that unless He were to act in this young man’s life all my efforts would be futile. I persisted in this prayer regularly for him. The next time we met he had not only done the assignment for the week, but was working ahead in our study.
Another young man was growing in his faith, studying and memorizing God’s word. We met regularly and I was pleased with his progress as well as his testimony at work. He was not attending any church, however, and continued to decline an offer on my part to take him to our church. I mentioned several other churches in the area as possibilities, but there was no desire on his part. Finally I remembered the importance of prayer for this issue in his life and began regularly asking the Lord to bring him to a believing congregation of Christ followers. A few weeks later he said that a fellow worker had started taking him to his church. This was a God fearing congregation and once again I was reminded of the importance of talking to God about men, not just talking to men about God.
Why is it more important to talk to God about men? My conversation with any person gives a very limited amount of information from only one source. God has available for His use many individuals, the word of God, the entire body of Christ and circumstances with which to produce change in individuals. Furthermore the amount of time I am able to spend with others is limited. God is available for them 24/7. In addition, my life and words are only able to impact a few. I am able, however, to pray for many, some of whom I seldom may have an opportunity for a conversation.
If the above is true, why then do we not spend more time talking to God about men? One reason, I think, is that it requires more faith than many things with which we are involved. When we give financially, a note of appreciation is often sent. When we teach or instruct publicly, others often relate their thanks to us. Prayer, however, is often devoid of feedback. We pray and then we wait. Sometime the waiting stretches over long periods of time.
Another reason is that our enemy realizes the importance of prayer and allows hindrances to enter our lives. These may consist of valued and worthy endeavors of many kinds, but are all less important than prayer. We must remember the following verse from Luke 5:16 as it describes the life of our Lord. “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” We can be certain that His prayer included those with whom He had regular interaction.
It is my prayer that the Lord will lead you often to those places where you will talk to God about men and not just talk to men about God.
In Christ, Richard Spann