The Secret of Praying for Unbelievers

Think of a person you care about who doesn’t know Christ as their Savior.

If you’re like me, every time you think of this person, your heart aches, because you know if they don’t accept Christ, they will die one day and spend eternity in hell. This frightens me—that someone I love could spend eternity separated from God (and from me). May it never be.

But the reality is that one day we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ and give an account. The entrance exam to heaven has one question: 

In whom are you trusting?

There’s only one right answer: “I’m trusting in Jesus Christ as my Savior.”

For years I couldn’t give that answer. The best I could do was hope my good works outweighed my bad works on judgment day. Some of my acquaintances, friends, and loved ones can’t give this answer because they haven’t yet come to faith in Jesus Christ. They’re still trusting in their works to get them into heaven. They don’t understand the truth of Ephesians 2:8-9:

“For by grace you have been saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God, not of works, lest any man shall boast.”

Because I love them, I witness to them, serve them, and do my best to demonstrate God’s love to them. But the most important thing I can do is to pray for them. 

I ask God to open their hearts to believe. Scripture tells us that no one comes to God unless the Father draws him (John 6:65), so it makes sense to ask God to draw our loved ones to himself and open their hearts to believe.

The book of Acts tells of a woman named Lydia. She was a religious woman who was trying to worship God as best she knew how. But she hadn’t trusted Jesus as her Savior. Paul shared the Gospel with her, like we should with our unbelieving loved ones. And then something miraculous happened. Acts 16:14 describes it this way:

“The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul's message.” 

Apart from God opening a person’s heart to believe, the message of the Gospel falls on deaf ears. The spiritually dead cannot receive the life-giving truths of Scripture unless God opens their hearts. This is what we should pray for.

The take away from Acts 16 is simple: Pray for the people you love who don’t know Christ as their Savior. And when you pray, ask God to open their hearts. Pray and don’t stop.

“For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved” (Rom. 10:10).

If you leave your loved one's first name in the comment box below, I'd be honored to pray for them.

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