A chance conversation
Not every conversation is significant, but this one was. It was a chance meeting with a lady who told me about a relative who had become a Christian because they had been given a 40-day prayer guide. I had two reactions. One: that’s wonderful! The other: I would never give a 40-day prayer guide to a non-Christian! That lady has no idea of the impact on my life that her story had. What followed was a simple light-bulb moment: let’s produce a prayer guide for people who are not religious and don’t do church? Let’s make it accessible, engaging and ensure it explains the gospel so people can trust Christ with their lives. That was when trypraying was born and since then it’s been an adventure.
I was sitting in a design studio in Edinburgh. Jane, the CEO of the branding and design agency, was hearing me explain about this booklet idea saying it was for people who are not religious and don’t ‘do’ church. What happened next shocked me. Her eyes filled with tears and she said, ‘This is huge!’ But on the inside I thought, ‘It’s only a booklet.’ A few weeks later I was invited to speak at a prayer gathering of people who pray for the Scottish parliament every time it is in session. They prayed about this new booklet and its future reach. One lady held up the booklet and said, ‘This is for the nation.’ Again, I thought, ‘It’s only a booklet’. But then something else happened. She corrected herself and said, ‘No, actually, this is for the nations!’ I was bewildered.
Over the last few years, what she said has been proven to be true.
It’s a wild idea…
… to give everyone a chance to hear about Jesus.
Trypraying has become an evangelism resource for individuals, a project for a church and a city-wide process that invites everyone to consider doing life differently. Thousdands of churches have used it and it has spread to other countries. At its heart it is an invitation for people to experience the kindness of God.
The booklet is a 7-day prayer guide for people who are not religious and don’t do church. It helps them begin to pray about something that’s important to them. Its accessible language and a gentle style shows through the themes from the gospels, stories of answered prayer, things to do and honest-to-God prayers. Crucially it explains the message of Jesus and invites a response.
For many people praying is something they do by default. They may not attend church on Sunday but they probably have prayed at some point during the week. 245 million Americans pray. Over 175 million people pray each day. And, intriguingly, of people who say they are not religious, 1 in 4 pray!
This trypraying resource can be a way into faith for many people. The booklet can unashamedly be given to friends and neighbors. It’s an easy give-away. Besides stories of answered prayer it has short articles on issues like unanswered prayer, suffering, evidence for the resurrection. People run a high risk of becoming a Christian if they use it!
Its time has come
So trypraying is a gift for our time. The Rev David McElrath of Graham Memorial Presbyterian Church says, “It’s a resource whose time has come,” Having run a trypraying project involving most of the churches in his area of San Diego he said, “‘It was one of the most exciting things we have done in years. It has huge potential in the US.”
Use it and lose it
As a church project, it’s simple. One week everyone in the church gets a copy of the booklet and is encouraged to use it themselves (‘use it’). The next week they are encouraged to give it to a friend with a few words of encouragement: ‘Perhaps you would like to try praying for a week and see what happens in your life’ (‘lose it’.) So within two weeks the whole church can be involved in praying and sharing their faith: ‘use it and lose it.’
When many churches in a city all do this at the same time the whole thing gets ramped up and can be put into the public space with advertising, banners, billboards, bumper stickers, etc.
The logo is a simple, visible invitation to do life with God.
Interest in the US is growing with the possibility of many cities and regions all using this invitation for people to experience the kindness of God.
Come and join in on the adventure.