Before you became a Christ follower, you were a prayer request. Someone was praying for you to come to know Jesus, and God moved in response to their prayers. This was never more apparent than with my friend, Jim.
Jim and I connected while I was a chaplain for our local high school football team. He was a coach and we quickly became friends. Although I invited him to church several times, he always conveniently had something else he had to do on Sundays. But I continued to be a friend and pray. In fact, I prayed for Jim at the same time every day for years.
One day while my wife and I were shopping, a lady came up to me and asked if I was the pastor working with the football team. When I said I was, she quickly told me she was Jim’s sister and that her whole family had been praying for him to come to Christ. She begged me to continue reaching out to him. I assured her I would stay the course and join with her in praying for her brother.
Then one day it happened. Out of nowhere, Jim and his wife visited our church. He heard the Gospel and, sitting in a seat on Sunday morning, he prayed to receive Christ. His whole world changed. I remember baptizing him and feeling so thankful that the Lord had answered our prayers. But I didn’t know the full story.
Sometime later, a friend of mine told me that as the news got out about Jim’s decision, an older couple told their church group that they had been praying for Jim for years. They lived next door to Jim and his family. Because they loved Jim, they were concerned about his spiritual life and began to pray earnestly for him. Once a week they would go to their room that was closest to Jim’s house and pray for Jim to come to know Jesus. When they heard of his decision to follow Christ, they were overwhelmed with excitement.
Jim had no idea, but before he ever came to Christ, three families were praying fervently for him. Each family was praying independently of the other. No one knew all that was happening, but God knew. God loved Jim so much that He placed him in a family with a praying sister, led him to a house with a praying neighbor and brought him to a team with a praying chaplain. God did it all!
When we put our hearts together and pray
(James 5.16 NlT) says, “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” That simply means that when God’s people put their hearts together and pray, God listens and He moves. Their prayers are powerful and effective.
Our prayers are powerful and effective too — especially when we pray for people to come to Christ. Of course, sometimes, we don’t see the answers to those prayers right away. When that happens, we should not become discouraged or quit praying, but instead, we should continue to seek Him and persist in prayer, knowing that He hears us.
God’s timing is perfect. The truth is, we don’t see what God sees. His ways are bigger than ours. But He is at work, responding to our prayers and moving toward that person we are lifting up in prayer.
How can you pray effectively for your lost friend?
Here are some thoughts.
- Set a time to pray. I regularly set an alarm on my phone to go off at 3:16 (I chose that number because of the great verse John 3:16. When the alarm goes off, a few names pop up, reminding me to pray. I will often stop what I’m doing and take a moment to pray for my lost friends.
- When our family lived in Oklahoma, the city tested the tornado alarms every Saturday at noon. I used that reminder to pray for my lost neighbors.
- Choose a time to pray that is consistent. Set an alarm or reminder. Create a list of lost friends you are committed to pray for until they come to Christ or Jesus calls you home to heaven.
- Pray for God to move in your lost friends’ lives. Pray for their hearts to be open. Pray for God to remove the blinders that are keeping them from seeing the Gospel clearly. Pray that God would move miraculously in their lives in such a way that they know God cares for them. Ask for a miracle. Cry out for God’s mercy.
- Pray with confidence. John wrote, “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us,” (1 John 5.14 ESV). If we are asking God for something that we know is His desire, then we can be confident that He hears us. And what could be more in line with the desires of God than for people to come to know Him?
(2 Peter 3.9 NlT) says, “He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” If God’s desire is to save, and if He hears us when we pray in agreement with His desires, then praying for our lost friends means God will hear and will respond when we pray.
Remember, before you were a follower of Jesus, you were a prayer request. You may never know who was praying for you, but rest assured, someone was calling your name before God, begging Him to draw you close. I can’t think of a greater privilege than to be that prayer warrior for someone else.
This blog features an excerpt from our book, Reach Your World.