The Secret of Praying for Unbelievers

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By Lori Hatcher

Acts 16:14 One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.

Think of a person you care about who doesn’t know Christ as their Savior.

If you’re like me, every time you think of this person, your heart aches, because you know if they don’t accept Christ, they will die one day and spend eternity in hell. This frightens me—that someone I love could spend eternity separated from God (and from me). May it never be.

But the reality is that one day we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ and give an account. The entrance exam to heaven has one question:

In whom are you trusting?

There’s only one right answer: “I’m trusting in Jesus Christ as my Savior.”

For years I couldn’t give that answer. The best I could do was hope my good works outweighed my bad works on judgment day. Some of my acquaintances, friends, and loved ones can’t give this answer because they haven’t yet come to faith in Jesus Christ. They’re still trusting in their works to get them into heaven. They don’t understand the truth of Ephesians 2:8-9:

“For by grace you have been saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God, not of works, lest any man shall boast.”

Because I love them, I witness to them, serve them, and do my best to demonstrate God’s love to them. But the most important thing I can do is to pray for them.

I ask God to open their hearts to believe. Scripture tells us that no one comes to God unless the Father draws him (John 6:65), so it makes sense to ask God to draw our loved ones to himself and open their hearts to believe.

The book of Acts tells of a woman named Lydia. She was a religious woman,  trying to worship God as best she knew how. But she hadn’t trusted Jesus as her Savior. Paul shared the Gospel with her, like we should with our unbelieving loved ones. And then something miraculous happened. Today’s verse, Acts 16:14 describes it this way:

“…The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.”

Apart from God opening a person’s heart to believe, the message of the Gospel falls on deaf ears. The spiritually dead cannot receive the life-giving truths of Scripture unless God opens their hearts. This is what we should pray for.

The take away from Acts 16 is simple: Pray for the people you love who don’t know Christ as their Savior. And when you pray, ask God to open their hearts. Pray and don’t stop.

“For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved” (Rom. 10:10).

If you leave your loved one’s first name in the comment box below, Danielle and I [Lori] would be honored to pray for them. Please also visit my website; Hungry for God Starving for Time

8 Replies to “The Secret of Praying for Unbelievers”

  1. Please pray for my Aunt Vicki and Cousin Veronica. My kids would like to ask for prayer for their friend Jaxsen. Thank you!

  2. James Payne, my son who professes to be an atheist.
    My other son, Rob, his wife, Linda, and my grandkids Devon, Tiffany, and Samantha Payne who don’t turn to God for everyday living.

    1. Dear Cindy, I praise the Lord for giving you a compassionate heart.
      Heavenly Father, we pray for these loved ones You’ve laid on Cindy’s heart; her sons James and Rob Payne, his wife Linda, and her grandkids Devon, Tiffany and Samantha. Lord, open their hearts to believe, as only You can. Let their eyes see your glorious hand at work in their lives, that they encounter Your grace and mercy personally. Let Cindy’s conversation and actions be fruitful for Your kingdom. (2 Timothy 1:5)

  3. My husband jeff and my son matt .

    Thank you for ur prayers. I am believing and trusting for the Lord to open their hearts this Christmas – a season of wonder and miracles – may it be so

    1. Yes, Lord, may Your Holy Spirit work in Jeff and Matt’s heart. Let Jeff be won over by You equipping Rose to faithfully yield in love to her husband. (1 Peter 3:1) Give Rose Your peace and she waits patiently upon You.

  4. Please pray for my daughter Jennessa and her husband Brian. Also, my son in law Gabe and My brother Jason. Thank you so much!

    1. Lord, may You touch the hearts of Jennessa, Brian, Gabe and Jason. Father, You know our hearts better than we do. We ask that you tear down walls of doubt, pain and unbelief. In Jesus’ precious Name.

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