As Thy Kingdom Come approaches, Les Barry shares some helpful lessons
A recent reflection from the Church of England included a passage from Genesis 32. In it, Jacob wrestles with God and God blesses him. Our relationship with God allows honesty, and the reflection challenged me with ‘where are you wrestling now?’ I felt prompted to pray and share with God my anguish and heartache over many unbelieving family members, friends, and loved ones. Later, time on the internet led to some helpful reading which I wanted to share with others.
Discovering that Jesus also had unbelieving family members was encouraging. His brothers, James, Judas, Joseph, Simon and his sisters are mentioned in Mark 6:3. Also, John 7:5 says, ‘For even his own brothers did not believe in him.’ And in Mark 3:21 his brothers claimed that Jesus was ‘out of his mind’. Those who lived with Jesus for decades didn’t know him. That’s incredible! The resurrection radically changed this because they joined the disciples in the upper room to wait for the Holy Spirit.
I decided I needed specific pointers to pray effectively for lost brothers and sisters.
- We need to pray for opportunities to share the gospel with loved ones. Paul says in Colossians 4: 3 – 4 ‘… that God may open a door … so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ … Pray that I may proclaim it clearly.’ We can sow seeds and pray that some will take root, reminding ourselves that God is at work achieving his purposes, however unseen or unacknowledged.
- We need to pray for God’s help in living the truth. The way we live will be read and inwardly digested as an extension of any words we share with others.
- Pray too that God will use times of family crisis to awaken the reality of the frail mortality of everyone. Psalm 90:12 says, ‘Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.’
- Finally, we need to ‘pray anyway’. When we have run out of prayers and don’t know what to pray, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us. When our hearts are aligned with God, his Spirit translates our prayers according to his Kingdom purposes. God hears the cries of our hearts and answers with the right thing, ‘far more abundantly than all that we ask or think’. Ephesians 3:20
So please be encouraged and newly refreshed on this journey of prayer for unbelieving loved ones. Don’t take their resistance as the final word – continue in steadfast prayer. Persist – they may yet believe.