None of us likes wasted effort – and the same is true of prayer.
‘I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, “Move from here to there” and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you’ (Matthew 17:20-21).
If I am to spend time and energy praying that friends and colleagues will become spiritually alive I need ‘mustard seed’ faith in our God who answers prayer; trust that my prayers will make a difference. I need to know that my prayers are totally aligned with God’s mission. I need to believe that my colleague is not beyond God’s power to save. So how are we to grow our faith? Firstly, by recognising that when we are praying for unbelievers to come to know Jesus as Lord we are praying completely in line with God’s will as these verses demonstrate:
- ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him’ (John 3:16-17).
- God ‘wants all people to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth’ (1 Timothy 2:4).
- ‘The Lord is … not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance’ (2 Peter 3:9).
Secondly, we build our faith by recognising that there is no person who is beyond God’s redeeming grace – if God can convert the murderous Saul of Tarsus then he can save those for whom you pray.
God is not limited by the seeming impossibility of circumstance, both Sarah and Abraham and Elizabeth and Zechariah had babies when it seemed impossible. Neither is he limited in birthing spiritual life and ‘rejoices over one sinner who repents’ (Luke 15:7).
Our prayers have a part to play in throwing parties in heaven!
1. Clear out anything that might hinder your prayers – for example:
Confess any unbelief and the thought that person X will never be saved
- Have you doubted God’s power to save person X?
- Are you aware of any resentment or disappointment that their conversion has taken so long?
- Have you found it difficult to persevere in prayer for this person?
- Have you neglected prayer in favour of other strategies to bring them to Christ?
What are your motives in wanting to see this person saved? For example, ‘it would make my life easier’ or ‘they would then know I was right all along’.
- Confess any lack of love towards this person.
- Clear out anything else God shows you!
2. Meditate on verses from Scripture that will help build your faith: Psalm 3:8; Isaiah 59:1; Matthew 1:21; Matthew 18:14; Luke 15:7; Luke 19:10; John 3:16; 1 Timothy 1:15; 2 Peter 3:9.