If you are like me, you have people in your life who are away from God and it breaks your heart thinking they may spend eternity away from you and from God. Many people wonder if they can make a difference in someone’s life. Others know they can, but aren’t exactly sure how. They don’t know if they have “the right gift” or ability.
The truth is we can all pray for the salvation of others and it is His will that we do so. Let’s start by looking specifically at three things that God’s Word teaches, and how we can us them on a regular basis to reach those we care about.
God’s Will is That All People Know Him
God’s Word is clear that He loves the world and all people in the world. He wants people to be forgiven of their sins, by knowing He sent His Son to die on the cross in order to make forgiveness and relationship possible. The Apostle Peter writes it out clearly:
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. 2 Peter 3:9 NIV
This gives us a very powerful starting point in our prayers. God wants EVERYONE to turn from their sin and turn to Him. Our next step on our prayer journey teaches us how we should pray.
God Answers Prayers that Line Up with His Will
Our next verses can help build our faith that our prayers will be answered.
14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. 1 John 5:14-15 NIV
These verses together tell us that if we pray for people’s salvations, this is God’s will as we learned in 2 Peter 3:9. Many times when people have complained to me about God or about what God hasn’t done, after they finish their rant, I ask the simple question – “Have you prayed about it?” You would laugh if you could see some of the expressions on the faces of people after this question. Then these previously eloquent people say something like “Uh, umm, uh no, umm, uh not really.”
What these people are really upset about is their own inability to change the situation. What they needed to learn is our next step on our prayer journey.
Prayer Invites God into The Situation
It’s really simple. Things didn’t change in their situations, because they were trying to change people in their own strength.
You do not have because you do not ask God. James 4:2b NIV
Many people are frustrated with the lack of change in people’s lives and this is often caused by the reality that the type of change that really needs to take place is the kind that only God can do. Only God can truly change people’s hearts and the way they think and act in order to line up with His will and ways. But we can still do something VERY powerful.
We Can Pray Daily and Specifically for People
So let’s put these principles together. If God’s will is for people to be forgiven and follow Him, when we pray, we invite Him and His power into the situation. In John 12:32, Jesus says that He already has begun drawing all men to Himself from the time of the crucifixion. Through our prayers we now partner with God as He continues to draw people to Himself.
One of the things you can do is very simple. Write down the names of people in your life that do not know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Then commit to pray from this list 15 minutes a day that they will come to know Jesus and grow into strong disciples. Each day you pray, you are inviting God and His power and ability into the situation to change their lives both now and for eternity.
Let me end with a story of my own. I am the first Christian in my family. When my grandmother was 87 and I knew the end of her life was coming near, I asked God to not let her die until she received Jesus as Savior and that she wouldn’t feel pain. She gave her life to Christ a few days before passing and one of the last things she told my mother was that despite what should have been a painful end, that she never had pain. God answered my prayers!
So there is just one question: will you write a list of people you care about and pray 15 minutes each day. It can change their lives beginning for today but lasting for all eternity.