by Norm Miller
"May I share a prayer with you that changed my life 74 years ago?"
That's how Ted Cotten tells others about Jesus. Or, at least that's how he starts. The prayer is a witnessing tool which Cotten, 84, has printed on a small card. It reads: "Dear Lord Jesus, I know I have sinned and done wrong. Please forgive me of my sin and give me eternal life. I now trust You Lord Jesus as my Savior. Help me to have a growing relationship with You, and to become the Christian person that You want me to be. In Jesus' name, Amen."
That’s how a story I wrote in 2007 for Baptist Press began.
I don’t recall how I met Ted Cotten, but I will never forget him. He and I maintained contact after that initial story, wherein I reported he had shared the prayer with about 2,500 people.
Three years later and I wrote another BP story about Ted. That’s because he had reached 10,000 people with his sinner’s prayer.
Ted turns 90 this year, and to date he has surpassed 35,000 people to whom he has read his prayer. Ask him how many have accepted Christ, and he doesn’t know, cumulatively. But he will relate a few accounts.
Still sharing his prayer with individuals, Ted also has developed a training program to teach others his method. So, he is replicating himself as a witness.
Below are a few excerpts from both stories I wrote about Ted Cotten. And below that are links to both BP stories. I encourage you to read them both, and then to share a personal witness with all who cross your path daily.
Note that the quotes are Ted’s.
-- It takes only 17 seconds to read or say the prayer.
-- “The amount of receptivity out there is what blows me away."
-- "I shared this prayer more than 1,800 times before I got my first rebuff."
-- "Witnessing is spiritual warfare."
-- "This burden began to weigh on me until I fell on my knees and confessed to the Lord that I was chicken and begged Him to give me courage and boldness to witness for Him."
-- "I witnessed to people at McDonald's, Burger King, Jack in the Box, Taco Bell, Applebee's, at Seattle Mariner baseball games, over the phone, in banks, at Kiwanis club, knocking on doors, on the golf course and anywhere I met people.”
-- “I made no conscious effort to design this prayer,” he said, explaining that it was a last-ditch effort some years ago to win a man to Christ whose friendship he had been cultivating. “I asked him, ‘May I share a prayer with you and see how it resonates with you?’” The man agreed, heard the prayer and then gave his heart to Christ.
-- “I went to Wal-Mart because we needed a few things. But really, I just went there to witness,” he said. “I shared with 43 people. Three were Hispanic, so I used my Spanish prayer cards. Everyone’s responses at the store were so positive that I was near tears.
-- “I also went to Target and had 50 prayer cards, and I ran out,” he said. “I could’ve shared with 75 people easily.”
-- “I believe I could’ve led hundreds to make decisions for Christ. But I’ve seen too many situations where people made what I believe were premature decisions. So, what we’re primarily doing is sowing the seed and giving the Holy Spirit something to work with. If we have time to deal with them at length, then we seek to lead them to the Lord.
-- “We cannot do the work of the Holy Spirit,” he said. “It’s our job to share our witness, however briefly or as long as it takes.”
-- “If God lets me live long enough, my goal is to reach 50,000.”
Retiree witnesses to 10,000 in 3 years - Baptist Press by Norm Miller
Octogenarian witnesses to thousands - Baptist Press by Norm Miller