“I’ll pray for you.”
Oh that common phrase we tell others in need of an encouraging word. But let’s be honest—are we really praying for them or are we just using it as a form of sympathy? It is our duty as believers to earnestly pray for those in need and not just say we’re “keeping those in our prayers.”
Ephesians 6:18 (NIV)
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
But what should we do after we pray for those in need? Should we ever take the time to validate and reaffirm the power of prayer? Of course! With other believers, it is important to share this.
However, with non-believers, it could get a little tricky. And here is why…
Recently, a friend of mine had fallen out of her faith (thanks to certain individuals misrepresenting Christianity). Friends, there are ways to invite someone to become interested in our faith, but pressuring them or making them feel guilty is certainly NOT the way to go about it. Please understand that you cannot do anything to change someone’s heart (believer or non-believer). It is up to God alone to enact the Holy Spirit to set their heart on fire and get excited about Him.
Ezekiel 36:26-27 (NIV)
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. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
(John Piper provides an excellent sermon on how prayer can appeal to God to change people’s wills too.)
Now sometimes God deliberately hardens hearts for reasons unknown to us at the time. After all, who are we to know the mind of God and decide when a person is ready to accept Jesus Christ? All we can do is pray for God to intervene and allow us to be used as a tool, if He so chooses to go that route.
Yet, as we wait, we can continue to be an accurate reflection of Christ in our actions and our words. And trust me, that is easier said than done. Couldn’t tell you how much I struggle in this particular aspect myself. Who is praying for us while we are praying for others?
I encourage you to check out this article that was posted on an atheist website. Yes, that’s right—an atheist website. I think it is important to understand where others are coming from in their beliefs so that we can better understand their mindset and more effectively (and respectfully) minister to them without misrepresenting ourselves as believers.
Good luck in your journey, my friends. I pray that you are able to connect with someone this week and perhaps plant a small seed within their mind to grow their curiosity with. After all, let us not underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit to do great things. As Jesus once alluded to in both Matthew 17:20 and Luke 17:6, all you need is faith as small as a mustard seed and you will be able to achieve great things. Not because of our own accord, but because of what He can do, even with very little.