“You can pray for me but not with me.” That was the response of a young woman to my request to pray about the upcoming court date she had just finished telling me about. She went on to explain that she had been raised Catholic, baptized in a Baptist church, and her current boyfriend was teaching her about Wicca. “I believe there is a god, I just don’t know which one it is. Maybe Buddhism is right. Why try? I might get it wrong.”
Another man I met said he has no interest in church. He was raised Mormon and resented being forced to go to church as a child. So now he doesn’t.
What I have found in talking to people about faith is that most individuals believe in a spiritual aspect of life. But like the two people mentioned above, there are usually barriers that keep these seekers from Jesus. Tim Keller calls these barriers Defeater Beliefs. He has a helpful article on the subject here:
It is our job as believers to help identify and respond to these barriers. Obviously, we cannot see people’s hearts. What we can do is pray for discernment and learn to be better listeners. In most cases, a person willing to have a spiritual conversation is also willing to tell you where they are, or at least think they are. In some instances, I use the back of my business card to provide the person with a framework for thinking of next steps.
Where are you on your spiritual journey? Where do you want to be? How can I help you get there? Asking these or other simple questions is a great way to practice listening and gathering information to help you respond as well as possible. Listening well builds trust and opens the door for me to then share about my own spiritual journey and talk about Jesus.
If you read the article by Tim Keller, where do you think the two individuals I spoke to said they were on their spiritual journey? What are the defeater beliefs that are standing between them and Jesus?
Where are you on your spiritual journey? What is your next step?