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Introduction to CPR

“The surgeon general of the United States recently
named loneliness as America’s top health problem,
revealing that nearly half of the country’s adults report feelings
of isolation and deteriorating mental health.”


“Take a Risk and Make a Friend”

Christianity Today article


In 2021, on an October day in Northeast Ohio, Steve Raichilson was playing tennis with his friend when his friend collapsed. Having been trained in CPR, but having never done this before, Steve performed CPR on his friend and after what seemed like an hour, and the arrival of some EMTs, his friend was revived. We all need good friends like Steve. Most Americans don’t have that many close friends. In the church, we would hope it would be better, but often it is not. We gather together, but we may not connect, care, pray, reach out to one another.

Let me ask you this question. How many people do you have in your life who 1) Care for you, 2) Pray for you, and 3) Reach out to you each month. I am calling this a CPR friend. We all need a few friends who care, pray for us, and reach out to us regularly. In this book, we will discuss how you can be that kind of friend.

We Live in a Lonely World

In the US, we are experiencing an epidemic of loneliness. Harvard published a report entitled: “Loneliness in America: How the Pandemic Has Deepened an Epidemic of Loneliness and What We Can Do About It.” This report is part of the Making Caring Common project at Harvard.

NPR published a report that says that “more than three in five Americans are lonely, with more and more people reporting feeling like they are left out, poorly understood and lacking companionship.” In the Harvard report, it touches on how our Christian tradition has a history of caring for others.

“We need to return to an idea that was central to our founding and is at the heart of many great religious traditions: We have commitments to ourselves, but we also have vital commitments to each other, including to those who are vulnerable.”

When look at the book of Matthew, we read these words about Jesus:

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd. Mt 9:36

We seek the heart of Jesus here. We can take on his heart. As we take on the heart of Jesus, we can be mobilized to care for those in our church and in our community.

Unleashing the Church

The “Making Caring Common” Harvard project report makes three recommendations: One of them is “Building not just our physical but our social infrastructure at every level of government…” I am not sure the government can make a major impact on the issue of loneliness in America. What I do know is that when the church is equipped and unleashed, caring can happen all over the place. When we take on the heart of Jesus, we too can have compassion on the crowds around us.

You Can Do This

You may feel a little unsure of yourself in talking with others about spiritual things. This is way easier. Our goal is to bless more people more. This is not complicated, and this is not hard. You can do this!

Our goal is to bless more people more.

A One-Foot Fence

In my coaching book, Coaching: The First Five Tools for Strategic Leaders, I talk about the one-foot fence. A one-foot fence is not hard to cross. All it takes is a bit of willingness. CPR is a one-foot fence. Keep this is mind:

  • The goal is to bless more people more through caring, praying, and reaching out.

  • We can all be a CPR friend to someone.

  • If you don’t want to, you don’t even have to talk much with people as you care, pray, and reach out (You can text them).

  • Partner with some other CPR folks so you can find a little encouragement as you seek to bless more people more.

Remember, you can do this!

Case Study with Chris

To make things a little more practical in this book, we are going to walk through a case study with Chris. Chris could be a man, woman, or even a child or teen.  Chris attends a group at your church. We will imagine that you are a small group leader at your church and Chris is in your group. The group you lead might be for children, youth or adults. It could also be a ministry team such as worship, facilities, etc.

Application for individuals

  1. Where do you experience lonely people in your world?

  2. When you see the crowds, do you have compassion or are you irritated?

  3. Who is a lonely person in your world you could bless?

  4. Are you more of an introvert or extrovert?

  5. Do you have a friend who each month cares for you, prays for you, and reaches out to you?

Application for small groups

  1. Who in your group is trained in medical CPR?

  2. Not using their real name, share with those in your group a lonely person in your world.

  3. How do you feel about talking with others about spiritual topics?

  4. How comfortable would you be in caring for someone, praying for them, and reaching out to them?

  5. Why do so many people who know so many people still feel lonely?


When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them,
because they were harassed and helpless,
like sheep without a shepherd.


Matthew 9:36


When you care about someone, you hope the best for them. You support them and you help them as you can in times of need. Caring for others was at the center of Jesus’ life and ministry.  We read in the gospels about Jesus’ friend, Lazarus. When Lazarus died, we have that famous shortest verse in the King James Bible, “Jesus wept.”  Jesus cared about his friend.

You can care for your friends through empathy and compassion, feeling with them the things they are going through. This is getting excited when they are excited and feeling their pain when they are down. You can be that CPR friend.

This doesn’t mean that you need to have 5-10 new best friends. You can be a good CPR friend without spending hours each month.


God cares for us and calls us to care for others. Darrell Johnson (2021) writes in his book on the Trinity, “At the center of the universe is a relationship.” God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit invites us into a relationship. We were made for relationships. In the famous Harvard Happiness Study that has been going on for more than 85 years, the researcher’s number one finding is that happiness is about the quality of our relationships. It is not about fame or fortune, power or prestige. It is about relationships.

The researcher’s number one finding
is that happiness is about
the quality of our relationships.

Despite these realities, many, many people are lonely. I was talking to a person at work, and they said that since their mother died a couple of years ago, they don’t have a friend in the world. Sadly, the person said that they could go home from work on Friday and die and no one would even know about it for a week.

The good news is that we can do something about it. When that person said to me that they have a friend in the world, I said, “You do now. I will be your friend.” You can be that friend who cares.


Building relationships takes intentionality. In the earlier introduction to this book, I quoted from a Christianity Today article entitled: “Take a Risk and Make a Friend.” The full title is “Take a Risk and Make a Friend: With God’s help, a little intentionality can go a long way toward healing our loneliness.” Relationships take intentionally and that intentionality starts with caring.

A few years ago, I read some research that talked about American men not having five friends. I thought through my list. I could come up with five, but it was a little harder than I would have thought. I began to talk with my friends about this and many of them said they didn’t have five friends. Many of us have hundreds of people we know, but we all realized that having friends and building relationships takes intentionality. CPR is a great on-ramp for new relationships. It doesn’t take a lot of time and you can bless more people more.

Blessing More People More

Because so many people do not have people who care about them, this is an opportunity for you to bless them with your care. For example, when I go out to eat, I will say to the wait staff person, “When our food comes, we are going to pray for our food and wondered how we could pray for you. Do you have any needs with your family, your finances, your health, or work that we could pray for?” I have done this hundreds of times and they will usually come up with something. More importantly, they know I care. Many people who work in restaurants lead hard lives. Some are divorced, single parents and are working at night because they must. Also, many of these people get yelled at every day. When we stop and care, it blesses them. It may be the only caring human connection they have all day.

Very Draining People (VDP)

We all probably have some people in our lives that are very draining. We can call these people Very Draining People or VDPs. I know it doesn’t sound nice to say that, but it is the reality for most of us.

The question is not whether you have VDPs in your life, it is how you manage them. Let’s say that one of your VDPs is your adult brother. Maybe he is critical of you and others and is negative about most everything. First, you can’t control him or what he does. You can only control what you do. In Mt 5:43-35, Jesus says:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.

You can care for this person. It is a matter of figuring out how you can bless him while minimizing the harm he does to you.


Take some time to do some self-reflection. Where are you at with your portfolio of relationships? How would you describe your network of relationships. Here are some diagnostic questions:

  • How many friends would you say you have that 1) Care for you, 2) Pray for you, and 3) Reach out to you each month?

  • Do you put more into your network of relationships than you get out of them?

  • How many toxic or VDP people do you have in your life?

  • Who are 3-5 people in your church or community that you could care for?

  • What are some next steps you could take to bless more people more.

Case Study with Chris

Chris is in your life group and has been coming regularly. Maybe in your group training, they talked about CPR. An easy place to start doing CPR is with people in your group. There could be several reasons that you choose Chris to be on our CPR list.

  • You seem to have a good connection with them.

  • When you prayed, the Lord brought them to mind.

  • Chris has been a little more engaged than some of the others.


You can get started by being a bit more intentional about caring for Chris. This can be as simple as saying “hi” or saying that you are glad they come to the group.

Application for individuals

  1. Who are people in your life who care about you?

  2. Do you have some very draining people (VDP) in your life?

  3. Pray and reflect and ask God who he might have you care for.

  4. How full is your relational plate?

Application for small groups

  1. Share with those in your group about where you are at concerning those who care for you?

  2. Where do you feel you are at emotionally when it comes to caring for others?

  3. Could this group care for the people in this group?


For this reason, since the day we heard about you,
we have not stopped praying for you.  We continually ask God
to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives.


Colossians 1:9


Caring for a friend can then lead to praying for them. Many times, in the New Testament, we are called to pray for one another. We read in Colossians 1:9 listed above, “For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you.” If you know what they are facing, you can pray for them on those issues. If you don’t know what they are going through, you can pray the Scriptures into their life. Later in Colossians chapter 1:9, we also read, “asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.”

God invites us to pray for one another. The impact can be significant. In the Lord’s Prayer, we read:

“Thy kingdom come;
thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

When we pray for someone, we can help them to experience a touch of heaven here are earth. Let’s say I pray for Sue that she can experience God’s peace and rest in her heart and soul.

Yes, our prayers can change things.  I like the five words that author Rob Reimer (2020) uses in his book, Spiritual Authority, “Touch heaven and change earth.” You can be that CPR friend who touches heaven on behalf of someone on earth.


If we want to bless more people more, we can do something about it. We can pray for people and see their lives changed. This is so easy because you don’t even need to talk with them. I talked about CPR in a church and later the pastor talked about one of their teens who came and talked with him. The teen said, “I can do this. Even though I am introvert, I can do this!” If I am driving down the road and someone in front of me starts going into road rage, I can pray for them right then and God can touch their lives right then. Jesus talks again and again about how the Kingdom of God is coming. While the fullness of kingdom will not be present in this age, God invites us to pray:

Thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Let’s join in with these five words: Touch heaven and change earth. Yes, we can be that CPR friend who changes the world around you.


There are lots of ways to pray for people. Here are a few:

  • We can pray the scriptures for people. See the Appendix in this book for example prayers.

  • We can ask people how we can pray for them and then pray in accordance with this.

  • We can pray and ask God how we should pray for this person.

  • We can join in with others in praying for people.


Let’s unpack each of these.

Praying for People from the Scriptures

If you don’t have any prayer requests from those you are caring for, there are many prayers from the Scriptures you can use. Let’s start with some Scriptural prayers for Christians you know and then we will look at some Scriptural prayers you can pray for those who have yet to meet Christ.

Scriptural Prayers for Christians:

  • Romans 15:3: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

  • Ephesians 1:17: “…keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.”

  • 1 Thessalonians 3:12: “May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else.”


These are prayers you can pray for any Christians you know.

Scriptural Prayers for Those Who have yet to Meet Christ

  • Acts 16:14: “The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul's message.”

  • Acts 26:18 (NLT): open their eyes, so they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God.”

  • 2 Corinthians 10:4 (NLT): “We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God.”


These are wonderful prayers that you can pray for anyone who has yet to meet Christ. You may want to memorize some of these passages so you can pray using them anywhere at any time. Again, in the Appendix of this book, there are many other Scriptural prayers that you can pray for others.

At Restaurants: How Can I Pray for You?

Earlier, I mentioned how you can pray for people at restaurants. This year, I had this conversation with a lady who was serving our table. We continued with short interchanges as she came back and forth. After about a half hour, she came back to our table and asked, “Could I give you another prayer requests? Could you pray that my husband could find a job?” Time and time again at restaurants, we can bless more people more.

In everyday settings, I will often say, “How can I be praying for you this month?” People will usually have some things to share. Because I don’t have a great memory, I will usually try to write their prayer request down.

Praying for Them Right There

It is common for Christians to say they will pray for others as needs arise. Sometimes we forget to do just that. Therefore, if the setting seems reasonable, I will ask them if I can pray for them right then and there. Most weeks at Trevecca where I teach, I will interview applicants to our doctoral program. At the end of those interviews, I will often say, “Before I let you go today, can I pray for you.” This prayer can be used in all kinds of situations. It is one more way to care and pray for people.

Keeping Track of Prayer Requests

It doesn’t take very long before you may forget who said what. Therefore, it often works best to write down the who, the what, and the when in the form of the name, prayer need, and date. You can do this in a paper notebook, on your phone, or computer. In the appendix of this book, there is a blank form I use so I don’t forget how to pray for people going forward.

Following Up with Prayer Requests

If I can, I will usually try to cycle back in a week or two, or three to let them know I have been praying for them and see if there are any updates. Again, this does have to be intense. Just keep things natural in the flow with everyday conversations.

Confidentiality is Critical

I was talking with a pastor one Sunday and I asked him how I could be praying for him. Although I didn’t know him that well, he quickly shared some very personal things. The only way this works, is if I keep lock tight confidentiality. When you get prayer requests from others, make sure and keep those requests confidential and safe. If you write them down in a place that might be seen by others, make sure others will not know who they are if you lose your notebook.


As you begin to pray for others, there are several things you will want to work through. Here are a few topics to address:

  • Your pacing of prayer: You can pray for people each day, week, or month. You can also pray for people as they come to mind. At a minimum, I work at praying for my CPR friends at least once a month.

  • Scriptural prayers, their requests, or as the Lord leads: You can pray for people using scriptural prayers. Again, there are sample prayers in the Appendix of this book. Next, you can use the prayer requests that people give you. Lastly, you can just pray the prayers that come to mind.

  • Alone or with them: You can pray for people when you are alone. You can also pray with them if you are comfortable praying out loud with others and it seems appropriate at the time.


There is no right answer to these topics. How you pray for others will be different than how someone else prays for people. Just try to find a practice that fits you well and blesses others.

Find an Accountability Partner

All of us are busy and so it is easy to get lost in the shuffle. I suggest that you find CPR accountability partner that you can touch base with each month. This person can help you to stay on track. This is not about pressure or guilt; it is just about following through on what you care about. As you work with others to stay on track, just remember that all your prayers for others need to remain confidential.

Typically, a CPR friend prays for their friends at least each month. You can be that CPR friend.

Case Study with Chris

In your small group this week, you broke out into pairs, and you paired up with Chris. You say, “Chris, how can I be praying for you this month?” They said you can pray for them concerning an issue at work and for his mother who has not been well recently.

You could also just chat with Chris during one of the breaks and ask, “How can I be praying for you this month?”

Jot down the prayer requests somewhere so you don’t forget them. You can use the form at the end of this book if you want. You also might want to get the cell number for Chris so you can text them in the future.

Application for individuals

  1. Is praying for others new for you?

  2. How do you feel praying out loud?

  3. Are you more inclined to pray scriptural prayers or to pray for others as the Lord leads.

Application for small groups

  1. Is there anyone in the group who would like to practice praying out loud?

  2. Could you break into groups of 2-3 to pray for each other.

  3. Without sharing any identities or requests, does anyone have something to share about answers to prayers for other people.

Reaching Out

I long to see you
so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong
—that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged
by each other’s faith.


Romans 1:11-12


CPR friends are not passive, not only do they pray for their friends, but they also reach out to them. There are lots of ways to do this. You can text them, call them, email them, visit them, or just talk with them when you run into them.


Human touch is a powerful force in the lives of people. When people touch us through their care, it grows our sense of well-being. Unfortunately, most people do not have many people in their lives who intentionally reach out and touch them each month. You can be that person.


Every person is different and so are ways that you can reach out to others. You can find ways to reach out to others that works for you and seems appropriate at the time.

Different Ways to Reach Out

There are many ways to touch the lives of others. Here are some examples:

  • Text

  • Email

  • Call

  • Video call (Facetime, Zoom, etc.)

  • Short, in-person conversation (after church)

  • Sit-down coffee

  • Going for a walk

People’s Preferred Touch

While I prefer talking with people on the phone, my millennial sons and daughters-in-law prefer texting. Since this is about them and not about me, I like to reach out to people using their preferred modality.

Since this is about them and not about me, I like to reach out to people using their preferred modality.

Knowing Them and Yourself

As you get to know them, you may get a feel as to the rhythms of their lives. Some people who are very busy and don’t need touches every week. Others live by themselves and are generally lonely. A weekly touch of some sort may be the highlight of their week.

You also need to know yourself. How much time do you have each month for reaching out? I like to look across my month and see which weeks or more open. I also like, if possible, meeting face-to-face at the beginning to hear their story. After that, shorter touches like text and emails can work well.

If you are more introverted and busier, meeting with many people may not work well. There is not right or wrong here, it is just a matter of knowing yourself well and knowing your CPR friends well.


Unless you know a person well, reaching out to them several times a week can be distracting or even feel like staking. On the other extreme, reaching out to people less than once a month can feel too distant. I find that touching people’s lives at least every month is a good starting place. If you are praying for them on something that is a little more time sensitive


Your CPR touches don’t have to be the same. You can use a mix of texts, calls, and visits over several months.



It is not hard to get started reaching out to of others. Let’s say you have a neighbor or co-worker on your CPR Friend List. Start by being intentional. Look out for them at work or in your neighborhood. When you see them, stop and talk with them. You can ask:

  • “How are you doing?”

  • “What’s new in your world?”

  • “How is your family doing?”

If you have been praying for them, you can say:

  • “I have been praying for [fill in the blank here]. How are things going?”

  • “You ask me to pray for your mother’s surgery, how did it go?”

If you don’t see them often and have their cell number, you can text them something like:

  • “I was praying for you today. How are things going?

  • “Any updates on your mother?”

  • “How can I be praying for you this month?”


A CPR touch can take many forms as we just mentioned. Even just a simple text can bless a friend. Remember, this touch should in some way express your care and concern.

Case Study with Chris

If you see Chris at church or in your small group, you can just mention, “Hey, I have been praying for your job and your mom. Any updates on how things are going?”

If you don’t run into Chris, you could text him and say, “Praying for you today, how is it going?”

Application for individuals

  1. What is your preferred modality of communication?

  2. How long would it take you text 5 people each month?

Application for small groups

  1. Go around your group and share with one another your preferred modality of communication.

  2. How much time do you have each month to reach out to people?

  3. Update to group on a positive interchange you have had sometime in the last month.

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