Praying for the unbeliever
ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP)--Prayer is a powerful evangelistic tool. It not only changes others, but it changes you. Prayer shapes the attitudes that motivate you.
Jesus told us to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us. Why do you think He told us to do this? Could it be our hearts are in need of change?
When we pray for people, it changes our thoughts and actions toward them. If we allow God to direct our prayers, we see even our enemies from God's perspective. We become open to sharing the Gospel with anyone because we know God's overarching desire is for the world to be saved.
Donna Taylor prayed for her husband, Ancil, for years before he came to faith in Christ. In her mind, even though she prayed for him, she couldn't picture him actually in church. It just was not a part of who he was.
Ancil wasn't opposed to his family attending church. In fact, when their three children would come home from worship, he would ask about what they learned that day.
As a newer member of Calvary Baptist in New Orleans, Donna joined a women's Bible study group for fellowship and personal growth. In sharing prayer requests, the women found out five of them had husbands who were not believers.
The women began an intentional time of prayer for their husbands and for themselves. The wives prayed that they would be the kind of wives that honor Christ and cause their husbands to desire a relationship with Jesus.
For two years, Donna prayed with her friends before Ancil finally surrendered his life to Christ. In fact, all five of the husbands who the women prayed for were saved.
Just as Donna prayed for her husband, you can pray for your friend or family member who is not a believer. To remember how to pray for someone who is not a believer, you can use the acrostic HEARTS. Pray for:
-- Hearts to be receptive. The Bible says God shines on people's hearts to give light to the knowledge of God's glory (2 Corinthians 4:6).
-- Ears to be open. Paul told his Jewish brothers that the saving work of God was sent to the Gentiles -– they also will listen (Acts 28:28). We need to pray that our friends and family will listen to the Gospel.
-- Attitudes to be changed. The mind set on the Spirit is life and peace (Romans 8:6). Your unbelieving friend or family member's attitude toward sin and the Savior must change to receive God's salvation. Pray for it.
-- Repentance to occur. God calls people to repentance so that times of refreshing may come from the Lord (Acts 3:19). Jesus told people to repent and believe in the Good News (Mark 1:15). This step is the surrendering of one's life to Jesus as Savior and Lord.
-- Transformation to begin. Transformation comes by the renewing of the mind so that someone can discern the will of God (Romans 12:2). Your prayer should be for your friend to experience God's transforming power so that he or she can become a committed follower of Christ.
-- Servants to be obedient. God's plan is for His followers to be witnesses all over the world (Acts 1:8). When praying for your friend or family member, pray for Christians to be obedient to Jesus' call. Pray that Christians will share the Gospel and live an authentic Christian life before an unbelieving world.
Prayer is a powerful tool. Who knows, it may be that God is trying to change you in the process.
Keith Manuel is an evangelism associate on the Louisiana Baptist Convention's evangelism & church growth team.