“Dear Lord, please put someone in my path today I can witness to.” This is a common and very sincere prayer — but new research reveals something interesting.

Although many churchgoers pray for a chance to share the Word of God, rarely do they actually take advantage of opportunities to do so.

Dr. Alex McFarland, the well-known apologist, religion and culture expert, author, and radio host, points to a new survey from LifeWay Research on this topic. It found that more than half of those who attend church at least once a month — or 55 percent — say they have not shared how to become a Christian in the past six months with other people.

Coincidentally, roughly that same amount, or 56 percent, say they pray for opportunities to tell others about Jesus at least once a week. And 23 percent pray for these moments every day — while 27 percent say they rarely or never pray for those opportunities.

Sharing the Gospel in today’s culture is not only in line with the teachings of Christ, advises McFarland — it could mean the difference between eternal life and death.

“As we see our culture spiral more and more downward, how can those who follow Jesus not take every opportunity to share news about His love, redeeming power and sacrifice for each and every one of us?” McFarland said, in statements shared with LifeZette. “To pray for a chance to witness to others, then not to take those chances when God presents the opportunity, is not only tragic, it’s reckless,” he also said. “God does put people in our path daily who need Him, whether it’s someone on the other side of the checkout counter, the angry fellow parent, the distressed co-worker — or any combination of these. It’s our responsibility to see the world through Jesus’ eyes and not be so wrapped up in our own lives that we miss the lost souls in front of us.”

Related: In Defense of Your Local Pastor

Through his Truth for a New Generation Ministries, sponsored by Liberty University, and as well as through his 18 books, national and regional events, and a summer youth apologetics camp, McFarland has spent his entire career focused on helping Christians share the Gospel and defend the faith.

The LifeWay survey, part of the Discipleship Pathway Assessment, also discovered the following:

  • Less than half of churchgoers say they’ve shared how to become a Christian with someone in the past six months (45 percent).
  • Of those who have spoken to someone about becoming a Christian, most had done so with one or two people (24 percent).
  • Around 1 in 10 churchgoers (10 percent) average at least one evangelistic conversation a month.
  • Those 65 and older are most likely to say they had no evangelistic conversations recently (62 percent).
  • Most churchgoers (55 percent) say they have, however, invited an unchurched person to a church service or program in the past six months.

“Jesus never promised the Great Commission would be completed quickly,” say the folks at LifeWay Research, “but He set the expectation that the efforts to reach all nations with His Gospel should be continuous. Many in church today appear to be distracted from Jesus’ final command.”

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Find more information on Dr. Alex McFarland here and more on the Truth for a New Generation conferences here