“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:1-4 (NLT)
We are instructed to pray for our unsaved loved ones. Sometimes it’s just hard to know how or what to pray. I encountered this same problem, so I did some study and research to find the best ways to pray for unsaved loved ones. I say “unsaved loved ones” but really these things could be prayed even for those who are saved that may have drifted away from God for some reason.
It’s very hard to see someone you love so lost or far from God or even questioning God. You want so much to help them, to fix them but you inevitably know that it’s not within your control. To receive Christ and to have a life-changing relationship with God is a personal and individual decision that we can never make for someone else, no matter how badly we want it for them. We can “plant seeds” (i.e. talk to them in a non-threatening and non-pushy way and/or show example in our own life), and we can pray for them. The rest is up to them. God gave us free will. Jesus Christ is his free gift to us, ours for the taking. However, a gift demanded or forced is no gift at all. We don’t have to take it. Sometimes we want something more for someone than they want it for themselves. It kind of stinks to feel this way, but guess what…You’re in good company. That’s how God feels all the time. All is not hopeless though! Prayers are extremely powerful!
“…The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” James 5:16b (NLT)
I have heard numerous people tell stories, my pastor included, that they are where they are today as a result of someone praying for them. God will go to work on our behalf, but we have to ask.
After studying and researching how and what to pray for unsaved loved ones, I compiled a list of things that I started to use. I actually wrote the list of what to pray in my notes of my phone and would open it and pray through the list for my unsaved loved ones. However, you don’t have to pray ALL of these things all of the time. I have done that, but for the most part I just picked a couple of these things to pray for each day (or whenever my unsaved loved ones came to mind—not necessarily every day).
Take Some Practical Steps to Pray for Unsaved Loved Ones (text in red are example prayers):
- Pray for God to remove the blindness from their eyes, to open their eyes so they can see. The bible says the god of this world, Satan, has blinded the minds of the unbelievers.
“Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.” 2 Corinthians 4:4 (NLT)
“Open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” Acts 26:18 (ESV)
Lord, please remove the blinders from _____’s eyes and open his/her eyes.
- Pray that as they are able to see that the eyes of their understanding would be enlightened and that God would bring about situations, circumstances and grant them repentance in their lives to lead them to the truth.
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people” Ephesians 1:18 (NIV)
“Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth” 2 Timothy 2:25 (NIV)
Lord, I pray that as _____’s eyes are opened that you would bring about situations and circumstances that would lead him/her to the truth.
- Pray for God to turn and soften their heart to make it tender and responsive.
“For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannot hear, and they have closed their eyes–so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and let me heal them.” Matthew 13:15 (NLT)
“And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” Ezekiel 36:26 (NLT)
Lord, I ask you to turn and soften _____’s heart. Put a new spirit in him/her. Take out _____’s stony, stubborn heart and give him/her a tender, responsive heart.
- Pray that they will be drawn to God and develop a hunger and desire for Him.
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.” John 6:44 (NIV)
“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” Philippians 2:13 (NLT)
Lord, please draw _____ to you and give him/her a hunger and desire for you.
- Pray that God would send “laborers” across their path. Basically, this is just witnesses to speak into their lives. I found this post here to be extremely helpful. I love how it says that “laborers” can come from a variety of sources: bumper stickers, billboards, magazines in a waiting room, something on the radio or TV, overheard conversations, or people who share the gospel with them personally. I like to pray that God would just surround them with all things “God” that they can’t escape Him!
“Therefore said he to them, The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few: pray you therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth laborers into his harvest.” Luke 10:2 (AKJV)
Lord, please send laborers from variety of sources across _____’s path. Let him/her see you wherever he/she goes, so much so that he/she cannot escape you!
- Pray for God to put a hedge of protection (or of “thorns”) around them so that any ungodly influences would lose interest and depart.
“But I will fence her in with thorn bushes. I will block the road to make her lose her way. When she runs after her lovers, she won’t be able to catch up with them. She will search for them but not find them. Then she will think ‘I might as well return to my husband because I was better off with him than I am now.’” Hosea 2:6–7 (NLT)
Lord, please put a hedge of protection around _____ so that any ungodly influences around him/her would lose interest and depart.
- Pray for any chains that bind them to be broken, any strongholds to be removed and that they will be free from Satan’s influence over their mind, will and emotions.
“’LORD, help!’ they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He led them from the darkness and deepest gloom; he snapped their chains.” Psalm 107:13-14 (NLT)
“For God will break the chains that bind his people and the whip that scourges them, just as he did when he destroyed the vast host of the Midianites by Gideon’s little band.” Isaiah 9:4 (TLB)
Lord, please break any chains, stronghold or barriers that bind _____ and free him/her from Satan’s influence over his/her mind, will and emotions.
- Pray that their mind, heart and lives would be transformed and renewed.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2 (NIV)
Lord, I pray that _____’s mind, heart and life would be transformed and renewed.
- Pray that they would be convicted by the Holy Spirit and change their attitude toward sin.
“And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment.” John 16:8 (NLT)
Lord, I pray that _____ would be convicted by the Holy Spirit and that he/she would have your attitude toward sin.
- Pray that God’s kindness would lead them to full repentance, and that they would turn away from their sin.
“Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” Romans 2:4 (NASB)
Lord, please let your kindness lead _____ to full repentance and help him/her to turn away from their sin.
I think it’s also important to let you know…As you start praying for your unsaved loved ones, don’t be surprised if they seem to be doing exactly the opposite of what you’re praying at first. They might get worse before they get better. This post helped me when I read that “conviction produces friction”. It’s a good sign that God is at work within them. Keep praying!
When God starts to work on your unsaved loved ones, most likely you’ll see small changes, little by little. Big changes do happen, but I have noticed they are usually not the norm. In fact, I kind of got angry one time, because I had been praying and praying, and I flat-out asked God, “Why hasn’t this person turned their life around?!” What I heard was, “If this person made that dramatic of a change, you wouldn’t believe them anyway. You wouldn’t think it was sincere or genuine. Lasting change happens little by little. You want them to have lasting change, right?” I was reminded of this verse…
“The LORD your God will drive those nations out ahead of you little by little. You will not clear them away all at once, otherwise the wild animals would multiply too quickly for you.” Deuteronomy 7:22 (NLT)
Joyce Meyer’s Battlefield of the Mind: Winning the Battle in Your Mind even has a chapter title “Little by Little”. She really helped me to understand that sometimes progress is slow, and that’s okay (it’s even on purpose at times). We need to celebrate the small changes. Focus on the positive and don’t get discouraged. Know that God is working behind the scenes and that these types of changes are from the inside out—it may take a while to see a difference.
“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin…” Zechariah 4:10a (NLT)
God actually showed me this verse for a different circumstance last week, but it’s well-suited in this scenario too. Funny how the bible works like that!
Remember… “…The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” (James 5:16) And if you DO get the opportunity to lead your unsaved loved ones to Christ, check out this post on How to Lead Someone to Christ!
What are your experiences in praying for unsaved loved ones? Leave a comment below (click on the post link to join the conversation if you’re viewing through e-mail) or take the conversation to your favorite social media channel (sharing links below).
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I was a fairly shy tenth grader and getting yelled at by another student in front of all our class. The teacher was running a few minutes late, and there was nobody to intervene for me.
Why was “Misty” so upset with me? I had left a note in her locker telling her I’d love to tell her about the Lord. I’d been praying for her regularly (we were pretty good friends) and felt like the Holy Spirit was calling me to be bolder in my approach, but being a generally insecure teen girl at the time, I didn’t want to have the conversation face-to-face.
Hence the note that Misty found in her locker that got her so upset she chewed me out in front of everybody.
Fast-forward a decade or two, and my encounter with Misty still sits in the back of my head when I think about my unsaved friends. But God, I want to say, if I share the gospel with her, she might yell at me! In many ways, I’m no different than that shy, insecure fourteen-year-old getting berated in front of a class full of students.
The Struggle is Real
Why is it so hard for us to share our faith with others? Of course, nobody wants to be called a bigot (a label many individuals plaster on Christians who try to spread the gospel). Many times, I’m afraid of offending others or (as in the case with Misty) of losing a friend. I know at least internally that the thought of someone spending eternity in Hell should be enough of a compulsion to help us overcome our fears all the time, but so often I find myself more like Jonah than I want to admit: God, send someone else!
A few months ago, Jaime Hampton, my friend and co-host of the Prevailing Prayer Podcast, each made individual commitments to pray for five of our unsaved friends every day. We came to this agreement based on the story of George Müller, and how his prayer list began with the names of five friends. After decades of fervent prayer, he saw God bring these individuals to salvation. The last conversion came just a few months after George Müller’s death. His perseverance to pray was an inspiration to me, and I made the same level of commitment to pray for these people on my prayer list either until they are converted or until I die.
The struggle became what to do to keep my mind sharp and my focus directed in my prayers. I wanted more than a simple, Please help so-and-so be saved. I’d already written several prayer guides by then, which is how I decided to write the 30 Days of Prayer for the Unsaved. This guide can be read as an eBook, but I also set up a daily email so for the next thirty days, I could get one prayer each day in my inbox reminding me to pray about a specific aspect for my unsaved friend.
How to Pray for Your Unsaved Friends
If you have unsaved friends, you might be where I was — wanting to pray for their salvation but unsure what to say to God on their behalf. Here are a few ideas of ways to pray for the unsaved.
- Pray for opportunities. Many people hear the gospel several times before they actually come to Christ. Ask God to bring witnesses into your friend’s life. The more you pray, the more God might change your heart and give you boldness so you’ll be ready to take that step and share the gospel with them if the chance arises.
- Pray for a conviction of sin. Unless someone realizes their need for a Savior, they have no perceived need for Christ. Pray that God would use your friend’s conscience to lead them to the cross, where they can find true forgiveness from their sins and freedom from guilt.
- Pray against spiritual blindness. Scripture says that before your friend is saved, a veil covers their eyes so they can’t understand the gospel. Only in Christ can that veil be removed. Ask God to prepare your friend’s heart to receive his free gift of salvation.
If you’d like to get emails with other prayer points and reminders, you can sign up at www.alanaterry.com/unsaved, and if you’re encouraged to pray more fervently and regularly for your unsaved friends, leave us a comment and tell us about your commitment!
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Alana is a pastor’s wife, self-diagnosed chicken lady, and Christian suspense author. She and her family live in rural Alaska where the northern lights in the winter and midnight sun in the summer make hauling water, surviving the annual mosquito apocalypse, and cleaning goat stalls in negative forty degrees worth every second. Find out more about Alana or contact her at any time at www.alanaterry.com.
Should we pray for the unsaved? Does it really help to pray to God about people who do not believe in Him? Does God hear our prayers for our unsaved friends and family? The answer to all of these questions is “Yes.” We should definitely pray for the unsaved, because God does hear our prayers. Our prayers work with God’s will, in ways that we cannot fully understand, to bring about miracles in the lives of those for whom we have prayed.
God desires to hear from us, and prayer is our means of talking with Him. When we, as believers, pray for the unsaved, God listens and He will honor our requests when our prayers are in line with His will.
Does the Bible tell us to pray for the unsaved? Yes, in Matthew 9:36-38, Jesus tells His disciples that there are many unsaved people throughout the world. He encouraged them to pray that God would provide people to share the gospel with them. God desires that all people learn the truth of salvation. 1 Timothy 2:3-4 says, “This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”
In Luke 11:9-10, Jesus again instructs His disciples to pray, and this time He tells them to pray persistently for those things they would like to receive from their Heavenly Father. Would you like your unsaved friends and family to come to know Jesus as their personal Savior? Then pray persistently for them.
Finally, James 5:16 tells us that “the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” We should pray fervently with the expectation that God will answer our prayers.
Will you pray for the unsaved today? Knowing that God hears our prayers and knowing that Jesus instructed us to pray persistently, will you commit to praying for the unsaved? Pray for the unsaved people in your life and have faith that God will answer your prayers.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
– We have all
and deserve God’s judgment.
, the Father, sent His only Son to satisfy that judgment for those who believe in Him.
, the creator and eternal Son of God, who lived a sinless life, loves us so much that He
for our sins, taking the punishment that we deserve, was
rose from the dead
according to the
. If you truly believe and trust this in your heart, receiving Jesus alone as your
, declaring, “
Jesus is Lord
,” you will be saved from
and spend eternity with God in heaven.
What is your response?
Yes, today I am deciding to follow JesusYes, I am already a follower of JesusI still have questions
Being in a marriage where your spouse does not share your faith in Christ can sometimes be a difficult experience. If your faith is central to the way you live your life, not being able to share that with your spouse can be trying at times. More so, your love for your spouse will mean that you are concerned for his or her spiritual wellbeing. One of the greatest acts of love you can show to someone is praying for them and one of the most powerful things you can do for your marriage is to pray regularly for your spouse. You are the one person that loves your spouse more than anyone else in the world and if you don’t pray for them who will? You need to bear in mind that praying for your spouse without referring to God’s word is no more effective than wishful thinking. To pray effectively you need to be armed with God’s word. God’s promises are your guarantee for answered prayers. Don’t be random in your approach to prayer. Base your prayers on specific promises from God’s word and see His will unfold in your spouse’s life. Below is a guide on how to pray for your unsaved spouse with relevant scriptures.
Know that you are praying in line with God’s will
One of the most comforting scriptures to refer to when you’re praying for an unsaved person, especially your spouse, is 2 Peter 3:9. ‘The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.’ It is God’s will that your spouse finds salvation so when you are praying along these lines, you can be confident that you are praying in line with God’s will. God does not want your spouse to miss out on eternal life so He will continue to work to bring him or her to salvation. If you have been praying for your spouse for a long time, remember that God has not given up on them yet so neither should you. Because your spouse’s will is involved it might take a while because God will not override a person’s will. However, you can rest assured that God is able to manoeuvre your spouse into a position where he or she becomes willing to receive Christ, even if He has to give them a Paul-like experience!
Pray that your spouse’s heart will be turned towards God
You may look at your spouse’s lifestyle and be tempted to think that he or she is an impossible case. Jesus has touched people far more rebellious against Him than your spouse so rest assured that He is able to deliver on His promise. God specialises in softening hard hearts. Hear Him in Jeremiah 24:7. ‘I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.’ He goes further to say in Ezekiel 36:26, ‘I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.’ These are all scriptures you can claim for your spouse. Pray that God will change his or her heart so that they will have a desire to walk with the Lord.
Pray for God to send the right person to influence your spouse for Christ
It is frequently the case that unsaved spouses are more open to learning about God from someone else other than their spouse. You might say the same thing over and over without seemingly producing any response. Suddenly, someone else comes into your spouse’s life as a Christian witness and they are more open to receiving. This is why it is usually best to stick to praying for your spouse rather than preaching at them. Your spouse is more likely to be won over by your kind and godly conduct than by anything you say. If your spouse asks questions about your faith, by all means share Christ with them in a non-judgemental manner. However, there is usually something less threatening about a neutral person pointing out our need for a life-change than a spouse who knows all our faults. In Luke 10:2 Jesus says, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’ Ask God to send someone into your spouse’s life who will lead them to Christ and will serve as a positive influence.
Pray that your conduct will be a positive influence
Don’t forget to pray for yourself, asking God to position you to be a help and not a hindrance to your spouse finding salvation. Ask God to help you relate with your spouse in a wise manner that reinforces the work of the Holy Spirit in his or her life. James 3:17-18 reminds us that ‘…the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.’ Being wise in your approach to your unsaved spouse is especially important when it is the husband who is unsaved. Any man will resist being told what to do by his wife which is why 1 Peter 3:1-4 makes it clear that a husband is more likely to be won ‘without a word’ from his wife. Men are more likely to respond to the silent witness of their wife’s godly life than nagging from her to change their ways. The Message version of that scripture puts it this way. ‘Be good wives to your husbands, responsive to their needs. There are husbands who, indifferent as they are to any words about God, will be captivated by your life of holy beauty.’ A kind, caring, non-judgemental attitude from his wife is the highest witness an unsaved man can experience. There is no point expecting your husband to act like a believer if he is not. Berating him for an ungodly lifestyle will do nothing to change him, and may even harden him. Remember, you cannot hold him to Christian standards of living until he actually accepts Christ.
Remind God that you’re trusting in Him
God is not depending on you to bring your spouse to salvation. He is quite capable of orchestrating that Himself. What He does need you to do is to bring the matter to Him and persist in intercession. No matter how hard your spouse’s heart is, God has a formula for softening it so don’t lose hope, even if it takes longer than you would have liked. Hear the words of Jeremiah 32:17, 26-27. ‘Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.’ ‘Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: “I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?”’ Nothing is too hard for God – even your spouse’s salvation. Trust God, do not be discouraged and do not give up. Philippians 4:6-7 encourages us in this respect. ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’ Do what you can do, pray and be at peace that God will do what only He can do.
If this has been helpful to you, please pass it on to someone else and leave me a comment on Facebook.