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This question may seem like a no-brainer to most people – praying for unsaved children, family members, and loved ones. But whenever I pray for my own children and grandchildren, I am usually plagued with doubts and questions that force me to justify my actions. The question keeps coming to mind, “Should I be doing this – praying for unsaved people to be saved?”  So, I try to reason from the Scripture and sort things out in my head.

One of the questions that comes to mind while praying for my family members is this. “Why not simply pray that the Lord’s will be done in their lives? After all, we’re not even sure if God has elected our children for salvation?”

Listen. Over and over in Scripture, God tells us it is His will and pleasure that all people be saved. So, we already know what God’s will is. 1 Timothy 2:4 says that God “desires all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”  2 Peter 3:9 says that God “is not willing that anyone should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”  In Ezekiel 33:11, God says, “As I live, says the LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turns from his evil way and lives.”  God takes pleasure in the redemption of the wicked, not their destruction. Jesus echoed this when He said, “there is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7). In fact, when Jesus told the parable of the great feast in Luke 14:15-24, He described God’s goal that “My house should be filled” (Luke 14:23).

Clearly, God wants to fill heaven. He doesn’t want any empty seats at Christ’s banqueting table. This is why He made provision for the salvation of all humanity. Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the whole world (John 1:29). He is the propitiation or atoning sacrifice for the whole world (1 John 2:2). As the Samaritans testified, “this One is the Savior of the world” (John 4:42). Jesus declared that “the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which is lost” (i.e. the whole of humanity – Luke 19:10).

The fact that many, even most, are not being saved cannot be attributed to God’s doing, but to humanity’s own willful rejection of God’s appointed Savior. In his sermon, Stephen told the unbelieving Jews, “your ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit” (Acts 7:51). So, yes, God has sovereignly given us the power to resist His efforts to save us. He gives us the power to embrace or reject His Spirit’s work in our hearts. But He forces us to do neither one nor the other.

We could even ask the question, “Why pray at all? Isn’t God going to do whatever He wants anyway?”  Here’s why. God commands His children to pray at all times (Luke 11:1-10; 18:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:17). Prayer is His idea, not ours. It’s God’s way of getting us to partner with Him for the execution of His will on earth (Matthew 6:10). Yes, God is sovereign and He could easily run the universe without our help. But God has chosen to involve us in His redemptive work. And He does so through our Christian witness and our prayers.

Think about it. If we carry a heavy burden of love and care for our family member’s salvation, isn’t it logical to conclude that this burden came from God? Isn’t God simply sharing with us a little bit of His own concern for our loved one’s salvation? God is sharing His own heart with us. It’s required of all people who are in a personal relationship with God that we share some of His burden of love and concern for lost humanity. It’s part of our friendship with a broken-hearted God.

Remember, God could have placed our children into any family on earth, on any spot on this planet, and at any time in human history. But God chose to bring them into our lives. Could it not be that He did so that they’d hear our Christian testimony, come under our Christian influence, and benefit from our fervent prayers? Perhaps Paul the apostle is hinting at this when he wrote, For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy” (1 Corinthians 7:14). Yes, God put our parents, our children, and our grandchildren into our lives – into the lives of believers, so they’d benefit from our witness and intercession.

And never feel inhibited from praying again and again for the same thing. Jesus commanded us to do so. Note the present imperative in Luke 11:9-10: “For I say to you, keep asking and you will receive; keep seeking and you will find; keep knocking the door shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door shall be opened.”

So, keep on praying for the salvation of your unsaved loved ones.

Don’t let Satan hem you in and stifle you with a lot of theological questions. Believe God’s word that it is His will to save your children, grandchildren, and other family members. God has placed them in your life so that you’ll witness to and pray for them. And God has placed that heaviness in your heart to motivate you to pray for them. God wants you to partner with Him (through your witness and intercession) for their salvation.


PRAYER:  Dear Father in heaven, let my heart be burdened with the things that burden Your heart. Let my heart be broken with the matters that break Your heart. And inspire me to pray and labor for the salvation of those You bring into my life. Through Jesus Christ I ask this, Amen.

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