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Praying for Unsaved Loved Ones

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
October 15, 2020 6:00 am

Praying for Unsaved Loved Ones

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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October 15, 2020 6:00 am

Lee Strobel explains the importance of praying for the salvation of your loved ones, and persevering in prayer for even the most unlikely converts among your friends and family.

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Minutes or someone you love. But you can't give it up there someone you love eternity that you are desperately concerned about what you're not.

You're not following that prayer is release probe will encourage you to continue praying for your friends and family. Don't know the Lord. This is Focus on the Family with your post focus president Dr. Jim Daly and I'm John full Jon, I believe that as Christians, one of the most painful things we experience is knowing that some of the people we love do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ and it seems like the more we talk about the benefits of being a Christian. The more closed off.

They become even Jesus experienced this in the gospel of Mark, Jesus said a prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family that's straight from the new living translation that today Pastor Lee Strobel will share with us the importance of praying for that loved one, and who knows God might put someone else in their life. Someone who might be the one to lead them to Christ and that's fine. If it gets the job done it, whatever it takes, and Lee Strobel is a best-selling author. He's been on this broadcast a number of times. Here he is now speaking at Woodlands church where he is teaching pastor on today's episode of Focus on the Family while were in the second week of a series called if Jesus lived in my house and I want to suggest that if Jesus physically lived with us in our house. One of things we noticed is that he would pray and he would pray specifically and fervently and continually and faithfully and expectantly for spiritually confuse people all over the village all over town all over the neighborhood.

He would pray for the salvation of spiritually lost people.

James five verse 16 says this the earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results that I've seen this myself time after time how God answers prayer in totally unexpected ways.

Not I do understand when were praying for people who were spiritually confuse were praying that the come to faith in Jesus Christ that our prayers cannot force them against their will to been there needed Jesus people have free will.

They have the choice each of us to make whether or not we can follow Christ are not something our prayers can force someone to make that decision, but I do believe James when he says a prayer is a righteous person make a difference. They make a difference if I like the way Mother Teresa put it.

She said when I pray coincidences happen and when I stop they don't. The prayers that we offer for spiritually confuse people are powerful and they are credible in their power. I think of the story of a woman name Amelia in England in the year 1849. Her 17-year-old son was spiritually wandering, he kinda walked away from his Christian faith. Maybe you know someone maybe you have a child or grandchild who's who's going through that experience and so she was as a mom I was a quite concerned about the eternity of her son and she was had to go out of town on a long trip and so she left on that trip, and while she was on that trip. She felt a great compulsion to pray for her son, and Army just throw a casual prayer up to heaven I meet. She went off by yourself and she prayed and she prayed and she prayed for hours and hours and hours for the sole of her son until she felt God in her soul, confirming he had heard the prayer he was going to take action and at the same moment that she was praying back there miles away at their home.

Her son was reading about and in that book, it talked about how Jesus death on the cross paid the price for all of the sin of humanity and the words he jumped out of him were Jesus words on the cross where he says it is finished. It is finished. The payment is made for the sins of the world and so this young man said them okay well if it is finished. Then what's there left to do, and he realized the one thing left to do was for him to receive this forgiveness of Christ for him to personally receive Jesus as is. Forgive her in his is a leader you thought of John 112 but as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in his name. He had to receive so he got on his knees and a prayer of repentance and faith he received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior as a couple here. Weeks later his mother returns home and she opens the front door of the home to come in and he sees her any runs over to her and he wants to tell her the good news. But she says to him, son. I already know I already know all that young man's name was James Hudson Taylor and James Hudson Taylor turned out to be one of history's greatest missionaries. He spent 51 years in China, he learned the language you learn the customs. He traveled all over China, founding schools, founding churches, bringing people to faith in Christ. One historian said this more than any other human being. He made the greatest contribution to the cause of world mission in the 19th century and people today in China and elsewhere are coming to faith because of the seeds planted through God in the life of Hudson Taylor and by the way, when Hudson Taylor was elderly and he could no longer get out of bed. He was bedridden you what he did. He had a map of China put on the wall next to his bed with pin stuck in it of the major population centers because he wanted to continue to pray specifically for those cities, even though he was too ill to get up and do anything else so I want to ask us is what supernatural chain of events might your prayers trigger just as a loving mother's prayers for her son started a movement through Hudson Taylor that continues to echo today. What supernatural chain might your prayers initiate. We need God's help for this. This is a spiritual battle. CS Lewis said there is no neutral ground in the universe every square inch every split second is claimed by God and counterclaimed by Satan.

This is a spiritual battle. Ultimately, it's not our clever gospel illustrations. It's not our apologetic answers are evidence that we offer. Ultimately what brings people of faith in Jesus Christ is the Holy Spirit convicting people of their sin and drawing them into the kingdom of God by the Holy Spirit can and does use us in the process and our prayers. I believe make a difference in the process. So what I like to do. I want to take you through little exercise I want to think through five areas of influence that you have will have a number of acquaintances and bodies in relationships and so forth.

I will walk you through five categories and I want you to think in each of these categories of the people you know who you're pretty sure are not followers of Christ. I want you to kinda bring their faces to your mind so the first sphere of influence are your friends. People you play golf with people you see the club people you play tennis with maybe people you haven't seen her while from high school that year and contacting Facebook. Think of all the friends who you know bring the pictures of them to your mind.

If you're pretty sure that there spiritually confuse I don't know Jesus. Second, our family, who in your extended family. Are you pretty sure is not safely in the kingdom of God bring their face to your mind. And then our workplace. Whether it's an office or a job site or whatever. Think of your coworkers.

Think of your colleagues who among them are you pretty sure is not a believer in your neighborhood who among your neighbors.

Do you know that you're pretty sure are not spiritually saved and then your school, some you are getting graduate degree go to school part-time or you're in college or high school or whatever. Think of your classmates.

Think of the administrators think about principles and so who are you pretty sure does not know Christ. Picture all of those people then let me ask you this question. If Jesus physically lived in your house and tonight he knocked on the door of your bedroom yet and he walks in he says you know what I am going to answer every single prayer that you prayed last week if he were to say that you tonight with there be anybody new in the kingdom of God. Tomorrow what any of those faces a cave in your fine be in God's kingdom tomorrow. I would pray there half dozen reasons him to give you five reasons why we pray for other people.

Number one because Jesus modeled Jesus modeled many translations under which translation you have in your Bible. Many translations when they talk about the crucifixion of Jesus in Luke 23 verse 34 translate the verse. This way, but Jesus said, father forgive them for they do not know what they're doing but the imperfect tense of the Greek there I think is little more nuanced than that. I think the new American Standard Bible does the best of capturing imperfect tense of the Greek when it translates to verse this way again Jesus hanging on the cross atoning for the sins of the world being tortured to death and he says that the verse says, but Jesus was saying. Father forgive them for they do not know what they're doing. He was saying that he was continuing to repeat it. He was saying it over and over again. Not just once. It was a practice over and over again. He is praying. Father forgive them father forgive them for they know not what they do all through the torture, the crucifixion, while the nails being driven through his aunt while the nails are being driven through his feet. He kept repeating that prayer for people so spiritually depraved.

They were torturing to death the son of God and British pastor John Stott says, in light of that, how can we justify not praying consistently and fervently continually expectantly. Jesus modeled prayers for spiritually lost people and then the apostle Paul follow suit.

Romans 10 verse one Paul says brothers and sisters, my heart's desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. So Paul picks up the baton and Paul is praying for a group of people that don't know Jesus personally and we need to pick up that baton and we need to pray for others as well. Second reason we pray for others is because it is a pure expression of love.

I pure expression of love. Richard Foster said this is incredible quote. He said if we truly love people.

We will desire for them far more than it is within our power to give them and this will lead us to prayer minutes or someone you love.

But you kinda given up on, or someone you love whose eternity that you are desperately concerned about but you're not. You're not following that up with prayer.

I know a man who came to faith that one of the first Billy Graham rallies ever.

I think what 1948 or something like that in the evangelist Billy Graham to rally the sky came to faith. His first thought is I want to reach my brother with the gospel. His brother was a very hardhearted guy. He was a graduate of Harvard Law school and he was a very successful patent attorney in Los Angeles and so his brother approached him with the gospel. The attorney was not interested kinda shut them down. And so what his brother do what he could pray and so he began praying for his brother when he told me to leave.

I prayed for my brother. I counted for 48 years and 348 days 48 years and 348 days and saw no response.

Until one day he thought well gosh this guy Strobel was law background.

He wrote a book about kind of the legal evidence for Christianity.

Maybe my lawyer brother might help him so he gave him a copy of my book is brother at the time had contracted cancer. He read the book but he was dying and in the hospital. Even with the respirator in where he could no longer speak.

His brother said you've heard the evidence you seen the evidence you heard the gospel. Have you received Jesus and he couldn't speak, but he nodded yes, yet, and then short time later he die and I said of the sky several 48 years and 348 did you ever want to give up on me like the stupidest question I've ever heard. Of course not.

He's my brother.

But how many of us have given up on brother Romeo my many of us have given up on someone we love.

I think this guy would say don't give up give up keep reaching out. Keep praying friends.

Love does not give up on people love perseveres. Love is patient, love does not write people off even when they seem on the surface to be unlikely candidates for conversion third reason we pray for other people is because as we pray for others. God inevitably does something in us. He does something in us. Romans five verses two through five say this because of our faith crisis brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand.

And we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God's glory. We can rejoice to when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they will help us develop endurance and endurance develop strength of character, and character sharpens our confident hope of salvation, and this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his law.

In other words, as we endure through the years in praying for people who are spiritually confused. Something is happening supernaturally but it's happening. Also, when us, our lives are changing. Our characters are changing our patients. Our perseverance are being developed. We are becoming a different person. Because of this prayer exercise of devoting our lives to praying for other people, and God will take you through a period and it may be hard as you pour out your prayers for someone you love. It may be frustrating at the time, but God is good to use it and you will emerge different, stronger. Your character different in ways you never could have become without that experience God changes us for the good. When we pray for the good of others. Fourth reason we pray for other people is because God can transform our attitude and maybe even our relationships.

In other words, God doesn't say just pray for people you love. Jesus said in Matthew five verse 44 but I tell you, pray for your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so I we praying for our court." Enemies are we praying for their former spouse. Are we praying for that business competitors trying to drive you into bankruptcy.

Are we praying for the father that disappointed you. I we praying for that reckless driver on the freeway. The cuts you off friends.

You can't praying for another person. Salvation for very long and still maintain a bitter or hateful attitude toward them. It's like if you're in a tug-of-war with somebody else in your pulling and tugging and so forth. It's as if you just drop your end of the rope is drop you under the rope why because you cannot fold your hands in prayer. If your hands are gripped on a rope that your pulling back and forth in competition with someone else and when we drop that rope, we begin to pray for other people are bitterness drains away and then finally the fifth reason we pray for other people is because God is still in this salvation business.

God is still in the salvation business like a second Corinthians 6, the first two verses says as God's coworker.

We urge you not to receive God's grace in vain. For he says in the time of my favor I heard you in the day of salvation I helped you. I tell you now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation friends. We pray for other people because God is still in the business of changing their life and rewriting their eternal destinations even among those people.

We look at those faces that we reviewed earlier in someone we go that's an unlikely candidate is what people probably said about me when I was an atheist, I was talking recently with a guy was what I collect its Chicago Tribune. Back when I was an atheist and he said yeah I said we highly sought. You become the editor of the Chicago Tribune. You're the last guy I thought would chuck it all and go around telling people about Jesus.

I was a hard case.

Maybe you are a hard case. Maybe you were an unlikely candidate. I think my father-in-law Unlikely candidates now was an unlikely candidate now was tough as leather and Al was an atheist and his daughter was not a Christian I was an atheist.

Everything was great until his daughter became a Christian that I became a Christian and the first thing I said is hey we got a hotel now. How about Jesus to be great going to tell Hal now listens to me. Tell the story and then he says Lee hey look good for you if that helps you find, but here's a deal. Don't ever talk to me again about Jesus. Okay okay yeah thanks L so the next day. Leslie said to pray for Al today, so I prayed for him yesterday so I know but you won't talk to us what what else we can do much. Pray for okay we pray for them next acre. Pray for else that you know I did what what is really okay pray for a week later I used to yes I'm still praying for now, I do. We pray for Al for 20 years and I don't think we missed many days and had a stroke and the doctor told us is going to die and have another stroke may come tomorrow, next week, next month when we soon and this was going to kill so we took him home and he was an at least lazy boy chair in the living room and I set out his wife was a Christian and my wife is a go shopping for a while.

I I give you one last shot it out and they left that II said I said Al you realize you're dying to be in heaven without you. Your wife and your daughter and your grandchildren will not want to be in heaven without you. Please, I cajole him and I reason with them and I share the gospel with them and I checked and nothing seemed to penetrate this wall that was there. And finally, under my breath because he was near death he could hear very well so he couldn't hear me but I said out loud. I said Satan unhand.

I felt like saying that his claws wrapped around his ankles and pulled them off reached out to him talk to him to about 45 minutes and finally I sent some softening I sense some receptivity if I let it out. You want to receive Jesus right now don't you and with tears pulling at his eyes.

He nodded. He said yes I do. And so Al hurdler one of most unlikely candidates for conversion I've ever met. After 89 years of atheism opened his heart receive forgiveness through Jesus Christ and we will be with them for eternity in heaven, and I almost want to give up on him. A thousand times. Jeff somebody like that in your life in unlikely candidate. If Al were here, he was sick. Don't give up no right after Al received Christ, his wife and my wife came home and I told him the news in and we started the celebration figures celebration God in heaven. We have our own celebration with cooking a meal to celebrate and then we notice sums wrong with Dale right side was saggy with a seven another stroke so we call 911 and an ambulance came they put down the ambulance and Leslie got in the ambulance with them and I got in the car with his wife and trail behind the amulets got to the hospital they put Al on a gurney in there wheeling him into the emergency room and he looked up and he said to Leslie Kelly, thanks, and he went into that emergency room and that stroke ended up destroying his mind and he lingered for a while and then he died. Al came to faith in the last cogent conversation of his life but you know what, it's never too late and this will never too late for your friend for your grandfather or your brother for your neighbor for your buddy at work is not too late for them. So we ought to be praying consistently fervently expected faithful for people we love who don't know Christ. Even the young likely candidates that encouragement that prompt him to close off today's episode of Focus on the Family, but on a website you to be able to hear how Lee wrapped up this message by giving some additional ideas on how to pray for those unsaved loved ones in your life and he'll also offer some follow-up steps that you can take you'll find all that and more in the links in the show notes Jon, I love that idea, praying for unlikely candidates like Lee's father-in-law Al because only God knows a person's heart. No one is beyond his love.

So let me challenge you start praying for your unlikely candidate today, and if you'd like to talk about some of the challenges you're facing in this area.

Give us a call.

We have a very friendly group of men and women on the phones and they would be honored to listen to your concerns and pray with you and if your situation warrants it will schedule a free callback from one of our caring Christian counselors. Please allow us to serve you in that way and consider donating to Focus on the Family to help us minister to families just like yours. When you make a donation of any amount I'd like to send you Lee Strobel's book called the unexpected adventure taking everyday wrist to talk with people about Jesus. If you enjoyed this broadcast.

You'll love the book, get your copy today and the book is set up in a devotional format so it's really easy to read in small segments every day, and Lee and his co-author, Mark Middleburgh, who's been on this broadcast is well sure a lot of great stories to inspire you get your copy of the book when you call 800 K and the word family or follow the link in the episode notes to donate to the work of Focus on the Family and request the book the unexpected adventure we got the links in the show notes and when you're online with us. Check out our brand-new improved Focus on the Family broadcast that it is a terrific way to access not just this broadcast in our archives, but a lot of great content across the ministry.

It's all available to you through the next time Jared Lopez encourages dad to step up and be the spiritual leader in their home in my mind for years. Thought I was going to be the best and then I became married and I became husband became father and Mike on the I'm not nearly as good at this as I pictured that I would on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team. Thanks for listening to this Focus on the Family I'm John Fuller asking you to take a moment to give us a rating if you would please sure about this episode with then plan to be with us next time you help you and your family.


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