If Jesus is real to you, it’s the most natural thing in the world to talk about Him. If you see the Lord working in your life, it’s very easy to say, “The Lord really blessed me yesterday”—and then tell about it. Mentioning the Lord in conversation opens up opportunities for people to ask you questions about Him.
I jog with a retired neighbor. We had jogged together for probably a year before the Lord opened the door for me to lead him in a prayer to accept Christ into his life. I had been talking to him about spiritual things and about his relationship with the Lord, but he hadn’t been very open to it. He was not hostile–but he was not open, either. However, when a personal crisis hit him, he was ready to listen to me and to consider the hope that Jesus offers.
Sometimes you don’t have the opportunity to pray with people until they come to a personal crisis, and you have already proven yourself a friend to them. Then they’ll be open to what you have to say.
I don’t see personal evangelism as a single encounter. Though God sometimes gives us opportunities to lead people to Christ right on the spot, often it takes a period of time to be praying and cultivating a relationship.
When I witness to people, I try to always leave the door open so that I can talk with them again. I don’t give a hard sell, like, “Accept or reject now.”
We have to be sensitive. In our boldness we can run ahead of the Holy Spirit and try to pluck the fruit before it’s ripe. I’m not interested in just putting notches on my evangelical belt. That can be our thinking if we’re not careful. We need to be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit to witness at the appropriate time.
My jogging buddy was ready to receive Christ. He wasn’t ready as soon as I wanted him to be–but, when the time came, the door was open, and the Lord gave me the words to say. Jesus promised, “It shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you” (Matthew 10:19-20, KJV).