A friend asked the question: How do I pray for unbelievers? How do I pray effectively? I trust that every Christian regularly prays for family or friends or colleagues or neighbors who do not yet know the Lord. And while we can and must pray for matters related to their lives and circumstances, the emphasis of our prayers must always be for their salvation. Here are some ways the Bible can guide our prayers.
Prayers for Salvation
We begin with prayers for salvation. Each of these prayers seeks the same thing, but in a different way or from a different angle or using different language. Each of them is grounded in a specific text of Scripture.
Pray that God would circumcise their hearts. Circumcision was the Old Testament sign of entering into God’s covenant, of being God’s people. To have a circumcised heart symbolizes having a heart that is fully joined to God, fully submissive to him. “And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live” (Deuteronomy 30:6).
Pray that God would give them a heart of flesh. The Bible contrasts a heart of flesh, a heart that is alive and responsive to God, to a heart of stone, a heart that is cold and unyielding. Pray that God would work within these unbelievers to change their hearts. “And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh…” (Ezekiel 11:19).
Pray that God would put his Spirit within them. The great joy of salvation is being indwelled by God himself. Pray that God would grant this honor to those unbelievers, that he would choose to take up residence within them. “And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules” (Ezekiel 36:27).
Pray that they would come to Christ. If unbelievers are to come to salvation, there is just one way. They must come through Christ and Christ alone. “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’” (John 14:6). Remember, too, that he is the one who calls them to come and to be relieved of the burden of their sin (see Matthew 11:28-30).
Pray that God would open their hearts to believe the gospel. Once more, God must initiate and people must respond. So pray that God would open the hearts of these unbelievers so they can in turn believe, just as Lydia did. “The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul” (Acts 16:14).
Pray that God would free them from the slavery of sin. Unbelievers may believe they are free, but they are in fact enslaved. They are slaves of sin, bound by their sin and sinfulness. Pray that God would liberate them by his gospel. “But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed” (Romans 6:17).
Pray that God would remove Satan’s blinding influence . Unbelievers have been blinded by Satan and will only ever be able to see and appreciate the gospel if God works within them. So pray that God would give them sight—spiritual sight. “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4).
Pray that God would grant them repentance. Unbelievers cannot repent without the enabling grace of God. So pray that God would grant them repentance, that this repentance would lead them to a knowledge of the truth. Pray as well that they would come to their senses and that they would escape from the devil’s snare. “God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:25-26).
Prayers For You
You have prayed for unbelievers using different words and approaching from different angles. But you should also pray for yourself.
Pray that you will develop relationship with them. For people to be saved they must first hear the good news of the gospel. For them to hear the good news of the gospel, they must first encounter Christians—Christians like you. Pray that you would develop deeper, more significant relationship with them so you can, in turn, speak truth. “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Romans 10:14).
Pray for opportunities to minister to them. Many people come to faith after seeing Christ’s loved displayed through the ministry of Christians. Pray for opportunities to minister to unbelievers so that your ministry can have an evangelistic effect. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
Pray for them faithfully and persistently. Our temptation is to grow discouraged in prayer, to pray for a while and, when we see no visible results, to give up. But God calls us to persevere in prayer. “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2). (See also the parable of the persistent widow in Luke 18:1-8.)
Pray for a burden to plead for their souls. Paul was willing to tell the church at Rome of his great longing to see the salvation of the lost. Do you share this deep longing? Pray that God would give you a great burden for souls. “Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved” (Romans 10:1).
Pray for boldness in generating and taking opportunities to speak the gospel. Even Paul longed for this boldness and for the confidence that he was speaking the right and best words. Pray that God would give you the boldness and, that when you take the opportunities, that he would then guide your words. “ also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel…” (Ephesians 6:19).
Pray for other believers to encounter them. God almost always uses a succession of people to share the gospel with people before they are saved. Pray, then, that God would lead other Christians into the lives of the unbelievers you love, that they too would provide an example of Christian living and that they too would speak the gospel. “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:6).
Here are a few more biblical emphases to guide your prayers.
Pray that God would use any circumstance to do his work in them. We pray to a God who is sovereign and who sovereignly works his good will. Often he saves people through difficult circumstances, through bringing them to the very end of themselves. Pray, then, that God would arrange circumstances, whether easy or difficult, to lead them to salvation. “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word” (Psalm 119:67). As you pray for the unbelievers you love, always pray to God: “your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).
Pray that God would extend his mercy to them. God assures us that he wishes for all people to turn to him in repentance and faith. He receives no joy from seeing people perish. Pray, then, that God would be glorified in the salvation of these people. “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
Pray with confidence. Finally, pray with confidence. God expects we will pray, God invites us to pray, God commands us to pray. Why? Because God loves to hear us pray and God loves to respond to our prayers. So as you pray for unbelievers, pray with confidence that God hears your prayers. “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (James 5:16).
Praying for Unbelievers to Find Faith: Encouraging Scriptures, Prayers & Bible Verses about Praying for Unbelievers.
Please join us in praying for unbelievers today.
Maybe we are praying for our unbelieving family, our unbelieving friends, an unbelieving husband, an unbelieving wife or an unbelieving child. We might even have come across or heard some painful comments made by an unbelieving person we don’t really know personally, but maybe the comments we read or heard touched us deeply, and our hearts are drawn to them in their pain.
When we don’t know what to say, YOU DO.
When we don’t know exactly how to pray, your precious HOLY SPIRIT helps us pray.
When we don’t understand all these horrible things that happen in this broken world, YOU DO.
John 17:3, ESV And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. See also: How to become a Christian; Telling others about Jesus
O Lord, we come before you today praying for unbelievers to find faith and salvation in you. We bring our loved ones before your throne of grace today: Please reach out to them individually with your loving and mighty hand. Please reveal yourself to them and let them come to the knowledge of you Lord. See also: 15 Bible Verses about Praying for Others; God deals with us individually.
Ezekiel 36:26, ESV And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
Dear Lord, please change hearts from deep within, and minister to each person right at their point of need. We know that there is absolutely nothing impossible for you to do, Dear Lord. We also know that you want us to pray for one another – and this is what we’re doing today!
John 3:17, ESV For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
2 Corinthians 5:17, ESV Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
And Dear Lord, we pray the following scripture for all of us:
Psalm 51:10 ESV Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. (Amen)
See also: Purify my heart Lord
Encouraging Bible Verse Reminder:
2 Peter 3:9, ESV The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (Amen)
See also: Getting to know God; Bible Verses about Witnessing; Telling others about Jesus
Thanks for reading, Dear Friends!
Have a wonderfully blessed, stress-free, productive, and joyful day!
Much Love & Blessings,
Bomi Jolly ~ JollyNotes.com
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John 3:16 states “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” While we know this to be true and hold it dear to our hearts, there are people in this world who are unaware of God, His Love, His Son Jesus, and His gift of eternal salvation.
Nonbelievers may include some of your friends, family members, or coworkers. When we realize that someone hasn’t turned their life over to God, we may be sad, scared for them, and confused about how to respond.
One great way to help those who do not believe is by praying for them. We can do so by effectively asking God for His guidance. By lifting them up in prayer, we can ask God to help them begin a faith journey or ask for advice on how to minister to them. The Lord will listen to your cries and work through you.
Here are a few prayers to help you get started when praying for a unbeliever.
Prayer They Will Know God
My Heavenly Father, in John 17:3, Jesus says, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” Jesus was praying that people come to know You, our only means to eternal salvation. Today I choose to pray as Jesus did and ask that You help those who have yet to give their lives to Christ. May Your love and power reveal themselves to the nonbelievers, so that they will someday know You! Amen.
Prayer That God Will Turn Their Stubborn Heart
Lord Almighty, as I pray today for those that do not know Jesus I ask that You can break whatever it is that has control over their heart that takes them away from knowing You. Psalm 119:67 says, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word.” It is true that many have to fall to their lowest points in life before they turn their life over to You. It often takes painful circumstances to drive us to Christ. Addiction, lust, materialism, and other deadly sins are false gods that are stealing the hearts of those who need You the most. I pray for those who are unsaved that You will be able to rip the bondage of what is holding them back. May they seek You! Amen.
Prayer That God Will Put His Spirit Within Them
Holy Spirit, I know the great joy of salvation is being indwelled by God himself. I pray that God would grant this honor to those unbelievers, that He would choose to take up residence within them. May He fill the hearts of those who have yet to see Him! As Ezekiel 36:27 states, “And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” I am blessed to have the Spirit within me, and I pray for that blessing for unbelievers so that they can know true happiness. Amen.
Prayer For God to Remove Satan’s Influence
Lord, it is scary to know that unbelievers have been blinded by Satan. In 2 Corinthians 4:4 it says, “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” How will they ever know You if they are blind? I pray that they are able to see and appreciate the gospel by You working within them. I pray God that You give them opportunities to see the light and glory of Jesus Christ. Bless them with the spiritual sight needed to break the influence that Satan has taken over them. Amen.
Prayer For Opportunities to Minister to Them
Lord, I know it is my duty to spread the Word of God and show others the glory that can be found within You. Many people come to faith after seeing Christ’s loved displayed through the ministry of Christians. So today, I pray for opportunities to minister to unbelievers. Help me to spread Your ministry effectively to those who do not know you. I pray that You work through other Christians, so that they have the ability to minister to nonbelievers too. Lead us all to opportunities to encounter those who do not know Jesus. Let us all be an example of Christian living. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
Prayer For God to Extend His Mercy on Them
God, I know that it is Your deepest wish to have all people have faith in You. It must break your heart in seeing someone choose false gods. I pray that You continue to be patient and merciful on those who have not yet found You. As it is said in 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 parish but everyone to come to repentance.” How blessed are we to have a God that will wait for us to turn our hearts to Him! We are blessed by a merciful and loving God that receives no joy in watching someone perish without knowing His love. Amen.
Lord, we, Your people, have become so accustomed to being prayed for. Prayer lines are common. We flock to mighty men of God looking for a miracle. And yet, You called us to give the gift of prayer. We confess that we find it hard to pray for lambs. You want us to pray for wolves. It is precisely to the people who don’t believe that you wish for us to carry faith. It is against the backdrop of darkness, that You long to display Your glorious light.
Forgive us for making prayer about us. Forgive us for not offering to boldly pray for unbelievers around us. Perhaps God, that is why miracles have dried up in some places. We have disconnected the miracles from Your gospel message. We want them for us. You want to do exploits in the face of unbelievers. Give us grace to pray and watch You do the work. Confirm Your message with signs and wonders. Show Your majesty everywhere. Where there are Christians, let miraculous grace be possible.
I pray, Lord, for You:
- To send believers into their lives as a witness (Matthew 9:38).
- To open their spiritual eyes and that Satan will not blind them from the truth (2 Corinthians 4:4).
- To give them ears to hear (Matthew 13:15), faith to believe (Acts 20:21), the will to respond (Acts 16:14; Romans 10:9).
- To help them understand and believe the Scriptures (Luke 24:45; Romans 10:17; 1 Thessalonians 2:13).
- To draw them to himself (John 6:44).
- For the Holy Spirit’s conviction of their sin and that he will guide them into all truth (John 16:8-11).
- That He will grant them the grace of true repentance and saving faith (Acts 3:19; Ephesians 2:8-9).
- To increase their desire to know Him (2 Chronicles 15:4; Acts 17:27).
- That they will believe in Christ as Savior (John 1:12; John 5:24; Acts 16:31) and submit to Him as Lord (Romans 10:9-10).
- That they surrender everything to follow Christ (Matthew 16:24; 2 Corinthians 5:15; Philippians 3:7-8).
- To set them free from spiritual captivity (2 Timothy 2:25-26).
- That they grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ (2 Peter 3:18).
- That they continue to live in Christ (Colossians 2:6-7).
- To sanctify them, not only from the world and sin, but unto himself for a holy purpose and mission (Romans 12:1-2).
- To give them opportunities to witness (Colossians 4:3), as young believers (Acts 2); for boldness in witness (Acts 4:29).
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P. Douglas Small is founder and president of Alive Ministries: PROJECT PRAY and he serves in conjunction with a number of other organizations. He is also the creator of the Praying Church Movement and the Prayer Trainer’s Network. However, all views expressed are his own and not the official position of any organization.