Engaging People With God

     I was just given the opportunity to take the month of July off.  Yes, a month! My wife and I have been in the ministry for more than 20 years; and although we are not 50 yet, we’re looking it straight in the eyes.  On top of that, we are going to be first-time grandparents soon! Needless to say, we were using our month away to ask some tough questions.  Questions like: 

  • Is God really glorified in and by our lives?
  • Are we really still growing in grace and truth?
  • Do we really love God and people more now than we used to?
  • Are we really doing what God called us to do, where He called us to do it?
  • Are we really doing it as effectively and efficiently as possible?
  • Will our next 20 years really have more impact on God’s kingdom than our last 20 years? 

     As we filtered our lives through these questions, it became apparent that the pace of our lives and the pressures of our ministries were actually distracting us from the purpose of life and ministry.  The very thing we are trying to accomplish has been causing us to veer off course from accomplishing it!

An Engaging Mission

     As I thought through how the next 20 years of ministry can have greater impact, I have concluded that my life mission is to simply help people “engage with God” so that He can change their lives.

     As a follower of Jesus Christ, God gives me many opportunities to engage people with Him.  The challenge for me (and I suspect for others in ministry) is to not get in the way of that engagement.  I have to make a conscious effort to be a conduit and not a clog!

     To play such a role, I must decrease as the Lord increases.  For God to be most glorified by me, the people I shepherd must first and foremost turn to Him and not to me.  Then, it is God providing the peace and the comfort.  Then, the people I lead are receiving the care they need because they are plugged into the care provider, not the “paid professional.”

The Best Engagement

     There are many ways to engage people with God, but in this article I want to focus on one of the best ways possible: Get them praying!

     There is no greater connection to God than when a person communicates with Him directly.  And my goal is to consciously get out of the way of that communication, both during church services and when going through life together with someone.

     In Psalm 50:7-13 the Lord condemned the Israelites for going through the motions of worshipping Him, but in reality being far from Him.  I wonder if God would admonish many of us today because our formal “prayer time” from the pulpit is actually hindering genuine worship from His people! Immediately after rebuking the empty motions of formalism, the Lord told the Israelites, “Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me” Psalm 50:14-15 (ESV).

     What if we encouraged everyone who was willing to have a personal encounter with God about their own personal distress! I am not talking about seeing who can pray the loudest, or who can “out-pray” the rest.  On the contrary, I am talking about bringing glory to God by helping the most people possible to call upon the Lord in the day of their distress!

Troubled But Trusting

     According to the Lord, people offering the “sacrifice of thanksgiving” as they “call upon (Him) in the day of trouble” glorifies Him! And isn’t that what life is all about?

     We should also direct people to God through prayer during the everyday situations of life, not just during church gatherings.  Whether it is at the bedside of a loved one entering eternity, during a counseling session for a couple on the brink of divorce, or at a little league football practice, it is easy for me (as a pastor, as the “paid professional Christian”) to lead someone in prayer! But if my mission is to help people grab hold of God and let Him change them, then I do not want to just lead them in prayer, I want them to actually pray! I want them to talk openly and honestly to their Creator.  All I need to do is ask them to pray right then, and wait in silence as they do.

Praying For His Glory

     And when people genuinely engage God, they are changed! They are never the same again.  I have heard a mother cry out to the Lord for comfort and strength and peace and understanding as she lost her child.  I have listened to sons declare God’s goodness as their father stepped into God’s presence too soon.  I have seen believers ask God to forgive the person who murdered their family member.  And time and time again, I have been blown away as the faith of the faithful so beautifully glorifies God as they cry out to Him in their distress! And God is pleased as His people bring the “sacrifice of thanksgiving” from obedient, trusting hearts.

     Do your prayers bring God glory? Do you help others “engage God” in prayer so they too bring God glory? Psalm 50:23 says, “The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me.” Offer such sacrifices today, and then help others do the same.

Copyright © 2013 Mike Mitchener. All rights reserved.


Mike is the pastor of Riverview Baptist Church in Pearisburg, VA. He and his wife Stephanie have been married for 29 years and they have three sons, a daughter-in-law, and a daughter-in-law to be. More about his ministry can be found at WestsideFellowship.org or MondaysWithMike.org.