It’s so important that we are praying for our family and friends who don’t know Jesus, but it can be hard to keep praying when we don’t seem to see many results. How many times have we prayed something along the lines: “Lord, please save Julia,” and yet nothing seems to change? I know I have many times in the past, but I want to share with you some lessons I’ve been taught about how to pray effectively for our loved ones who don’t share our faith.
Why we need to pray
When praying for loved ones, the Bible has so much to teach us. First of all, it’s important that we have confidence that we are praying according to God’s will. After all, 1 Timothy 2:4 teaches us that God desires all of humanity to be saved and come to the good news. So, when we’re praying for someone to be saved, we can know that we are praying in agreement with God.
We find further reasons for the need to pray in 2 Corinthians 4:3-4:
And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel…
This passage is challenging. It reminds us that our friends or family members who are not yet Christians, don’t simply not ‘get’ the gospel, but they could actually be blind to it. This means they can’t understand the things that we believe. Therefore, we need to pray that their eyes will be opened so that they will be able to see the gospel clearly.
It’s clear prayer is vital when we think about evangelism. But how do we do we pray for lost loved ones?
How to pray
To help us answer that, I want to look at 2 Corinthians 10:4-5:
The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
A stronghold is any logic, philosophy or belief system deeply embedded into the mind of a person. We’re talking about the mindsets and arguments that set themselves up against knowing God that every person has, whether they realise it or not.
The problem is, these strongholds can so control a person’s thinking that any hearing of the gospel is filtered through them, so they don’t understand the truth. Prayer is crucial because, as the Apostle Paul reminds us, our weapon of prayer can demolish deceptions and strongholds of the mind. Our struggle is not against flesh and blood. Our prayers are vital and powerful, as they help to lay the foundation for people to be able to hear the gospel for themselves.
Finally, let’s pray that God will send out workers into His harvest field (Matthew 9:38). Often we have loved ones who we’ve been trying to share our faith with for years, but it seems like the conversation never progresses. Ask God to send people to share the gospel with those close family and friends. You’d be amazed how often they will open up to a complete stranger.
To close, here are some creative ways to motivate and encourage prayer.
If you are praying for a loved one, and your friend is doing the same, why not meet together fortnightly or monthly to pray together? Having a prayer partner is not only encouraging, but can help with motivation and perseverance in prayer.
30-day prayer campaign
Armed with a new verse each week, commit to praying daily for your friend or family member. For example, in week one you could focus on 2 Corinthians 4:3-4, specifically praying that God will remove the veil that covers their mind, and enable them to see clearly the light of the gospel of Christ. In my experience, specific prayers receive specific answers, and you could consider committing to fast for your loved ones to come to know Jesus.
Church-wide call to prayer
Why not suggest to your church that each month they focus on praying for a specific individual both during church meetings and privately? Or have a regular prayer meeting focused solely on praying for people who do not yet know Jesus.
Finally, build into your regular prayers these words of Jesus, that God will draw people to Him by His Spirit (John 6:44).