Salvation is an inside job and we are dependent upon God to do an internal heart-changing work in those for whom we are burdened…What are some things we can pray for them?
We can pray for God to send conviction, that they will sense the urgency of their need. At Pentecost, Peter’s sermon was interrupted by his listeners, “Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?’” (Acts 2:37). Conviction is when God calls us to account and shows us our fault.
We can ask God to send enlightenment. Paul was commissioned by God to go to the Gentiles, “To open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me” (Acts 26:18).
We can pray that God would call and draw, attracting them to Christ. While we, in our natural condition, are turned off by God, He has a way of engineering circumstances that cause us to be drawn to Him. “He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 2:14). Jesus said, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:44).
We can ask God to destroy mental strongholds, to remove the barriers between them and Christ. Being a lost person is hard work. God gives witness to Himself in powerful ways. And the person who doesn’t want to turn to Christ has to defend himself against the guilt and feelings of foolishness for rejecting Him. So they build defensive walls to keep those feelings out—and to keep God from “meddling” in their lives. Some of these wall are made of intellectual rationalizations, some of the memories of bad experiences at church or with people who professed to be Christians. Some walls are made with the bricks of procrastination. But all the walls are a hardened bunker to keep God away. Prayer, however, can penetrate these walls: “The weapons with which we fight are not human weapons, but are mighty for God in overthrowing strong fortresses. For we overthrow arrogant ‘reckonings,’ and every stronghold that towers high in defiance of the knowledge of God, and we carry off every thought as if into slavery—into subjection to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:4,5, Weymouth). By Derek Gentle
Jonah 2:7 “When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord; And my prayer went up to You, Into Your holy temple.