QUESTION: How can I pray for the unsaved?
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
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Christians are called to be in prayer constantly (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and to be praying specifically for other Christians, our leaders, and even our enemies. In fact, 1 Timothy 2:1 says, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people.” This would include the unsaved.
Jesus came to save the lost (Luke 19:10) and we are commanded to make disciples (Matthew 28:19–20). God’s desire is to see all people saved (2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:4). He instructs us to pray for workers to enter the harvest fields—a plea for people to preach the gospel that many would be saved (Luke 10:2). God clearly has a heart for the unsaved. Praying for people to come to know Jesus is praying in accordance with God’s desire for them.
We understand the eternal destination of those who die without Jesus, and so it is right for us to pray for them that they would respond to God’s call and be saved.
One of the most caring things you can do for someone is to pray for them—to intercede on their behalf at the throne of God. When that person is unsaved, it is good and proper to ask God to lead them to repentance and salvation.
Paul traveled, preached, and suffered shipwrecks, imprisonment, and beatings for those who didn’t know the truth about Jesus to not only gain that knowledge, but to gain salvation (Romans 9:2–3). His story is told in the book of Acts. We can pray for missionaries of all kinds, as well as share the gospel in whatever life situation God has entrusted us. We pray not only for those who share the gospel message, but for those who hear it.
The great preacher Charles Spurgeon once said, “If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.”
The Bible tells us by example and by instruction to pray for those who are unsaved.
Related Truth: What is the importance of praying for others?Does God hear the prayer of an unbeliever? Why is it important to pray for our leaders? How should we pray for leaders?What value is there in prayer meetings?What is the importance of daily prayer in the life of a Christian?
Truth about Prayer
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.
- 1 The Struggle is Real
- 2 How to Pray for Your Unsaved Friends
- 3 Evangelistic Prayer: The Real Secret to Praying for Unsaved People
- 4 First Evangelistic Prayer Matthew 9: 37-38
- 5 Second Evangelistic Prayer Luke 10:2
- 6 Third Evangelistic Prayer Ephesians 6:19-20
- 7 Fourth Evangelistic Prayer Colossians 4:3-4
- 8 Fifth Evangelistic Prayer 2 Thessalonians 3:1
- 9 Sixth Evangelistic Prayer Acts 4:29-31
- 10 Summary and Conclusion
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.
Evangelistic Prayer: The Real Secret to Praying for Unsaved People
There are six (and only six) Scriptures in the New Testament that explicitly link prayer to evangelism. Examine these six and find the Bible secret to praying for the unsaved.
First Evangelistic Prayer Matthew 9: 37-38
Jesus notices so many needy people; compassion for them rises in Him. He then puts his finger squarely on the problem–many people are ready to receive salvation, but few workers. His solution: Pray for workers.
Second Evangelistic Prayer Luke 10:2
On a separate occasion from Matthew 9, Jesus offers the same command. “Beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” Does He ever specifically ask people to pray for the lost? Strangely, no. His solution is invariably the same: Pray for believers to go to work in the “harvest.”
Third Evangelistic Prayer Ephesians 6:19-20
Paul asks prayer for himself for four specific areas:
• That he would open his mouth
• That utterance, words (Greek: logos, from lego, which means “to speak”) be given to him
• Boldness to make the gospel known (twice requested)
• That he would speak as he ought
Five times his request centers on speaking out.
Fourth Evangelistic Prayer Colossians 4:3-4
Paul asks the church in Colossae to pray for Timothy and him so they
• Will have an open door for their message
• May speak out “the mystery of Christ”
• Will speak clearly as they ought
Fifth Evangelistic Prayer 2 Thessalonians 3:1
Again Paul feels the need and cries out for prayers for Silvanus, Timothy and himself. His request–that the word of God which they speak would spread rapidly. They also wanted prayer that the way they spoke and the words they said would be respected, honored and received.
Sixth Evangelistic Prayer Acts 4:29-31
This incident in Acts 4 rests in the context of evangelism and prayer for the salvation of people opposed to Christ Jesus. After threats and harassment, Peter and John (and apparently other disciples) prayed aloud. Sandwiched between “take note of their threats” and “extend Your hand to heal” is this gem, “Grant that Your bondservants may speak Your word with all confidence” (Greek—parousia=boldness). This example of the New Testament Church in action clearly reveals the key to effective prayer for the lost.
Is it wrong to pray for the unsaved by name? God forbid!–to pull a line from Paul. There are many general promises such as, “Ask and it will be given to you.” Also, I Timothy 2:1-4 edges toward prayer for the lost, but does not make a specific connection. (Note: Some translations, based on weak manuscript evidence or imagination, place Jesus’ prayer in John 17:20 in the future tense which makes it seem like He’s praying for the lost.)
Following these six Scriptures focuses a new and brighter light on evangelism. Amazingly, the Bible way of prayer for the unsaved is largely unheralded and untried. Yet it is one of the keys that has made Chicken Evangelism so effective.
Summary and Conclusion
Each of the six Scriptures linking prayer and evangelism emphasize prayer for the church to speak boldly and work in the “harvest”. Not one calls for prayer for the unsaved. Could this be a weak or missing link in our evangelism efforts? Are your evangelistic prayers based on the Bible way of praying?
I’d be interested in your thoughts. What’s your experience with evangelistic prayer? Have you tried the real secret for praying for the lost? What results are you getting?