3 Ways to Pray for Your Unbelieving Loved Ones
There is no prayer request that’s more urgent and close to our hearts than the desire to see our loved ones—whether they’re our family members, colleagues, or close friends—come to know the Lord. However, it can be difficult to persevere in prayer as the process of seeing them know Christ and turning their hearts and minds to Him can be a long and arduous one.
Back when I was in youth group, my youth pastor gave all the leaders a bookmark-sized weekly calendar with all our names on it, so we could cover each other in prayer. I kept this calendar in my Bible for all the years I was in youth group, making an attempt to say a quick prayer for the person whose name was allocated for that day every time I opened my Bible. It was encouraging to know that others were praying for me as well.
Since then, this “prayer calendar” practice has remained with me—though in a digital form: Whenever I schedule an appointment with someone in my Google Calendar or hear about the needs of a pre-believing loved one, I will pray for their needs and their salvation, even if it’s a brief prayer on the way to meeting them. I also pray that God will prepare my heart to love them well in our meet-up.
So essentially, my “prayer calendar” is made up of my timetable of meetings and social appointments, and my “follow-up” tracking system consists of asking them at our next meet-up how they’re doing based on the needs they had previously shared with me.
Sometimes, in praying for our loved ones, we might find it difficult to know what to pray or even find the right words to say. As I’ve started praying more for my loved ones, I’ve found myself starting to pray these three prayers, and I hope that they will serve as a good starting point for you as well.
As we pray these prayers, I encourage us to see our loved ones as God sees them, and to ask God to align our hearts with His (Luke 15:11-32) that we may love them more with the love of Christ and desire for them to come home to His Kingdom. I also remind myself that Jesus is our intercessor who regularly offers prayers for us before God the Father. How comforting it is that Jesus hears our prayers whenever we utter them, and takes these prayers to God the Father on our behalf (Hebrews 7:25)!
[Tip: You may personalize these prayers by inserting your family member’s, colleague’s or friend’s name or relation to you where it says “my loved one” and list their needs specifically where indicated.]
1. A prayer to thank God for them
Thanking God for bringing my loved one into my life and reminding myself that he or she is created in God’s image helps me view them as worthy of love and salvation because Jesus has made them worthy by His work on the cross.
A suggested prayer can be:
Dear Heavenly Father, I thank You for (my loved one). Thank You for placing him (or her) in my life and giving us the relationship that we have. I know that You have intentionally orchestrated for our paths to cross—and that this is part of Your divine purpose. Our lives are together for as long or short as You have intended and I thank You for this season that we have to know You. I pray for Your eyes to see and take ahold of opportunities in our days ahead so that we can get to know each other more.
I thank You that You have made (my loved one) so beautiful and precious in Your sight, forming him so intricately and writing his days for a purposeful and meaningful life before even one of his/her days came to be. Lord Jesus, You have so loved him that You have died for him to come to You. I pray I will value my relationship with (my loved one) to see him as You see him—blessed and clothed with divine love and honor, and most of all made in the image of the Most High God.
2. A prayer for how you can relate to them
Remembering that God orders all our steps (Proverbs 16:33) gives me assurance that God’s plans and purposes for my loved ones and me are always good (Romans 8:28). This gives me courage to pray and be resourceful, using the opportunities available to sow seeds of the Gospel and God’s love into my loved one’s life.
A suggested prayer can be:
Heavenly Father, knowing that it is not an accident that You have allowed (my loved one) and me to cross paths for this season, I pray I will love him as You love him.
Heavenly Father, Your thoughts to me have been selfless, loving and kind,
Your words to me timely, encouraging and truthful,
And Your actions to me loving, gentle and sacrificial.
Although I have been undeserving of Your love, mercy and grace,
I pray my thoughts, words and actions to my loved one be the same as how You have treated me.
With the strength, empowerment and humility of Your Holy Spirit, I pray I will mirror Christ to my loved one.
I pray for the courage and readiness of Philip when he found himself at the chariot of the Ethiopian eunuch. Like him, I pray You will help me to journey alongside and to be available to meet my loved where he is at.
I pray I will be sensitive to my loved one’s needs and make room in my life to love them with the gifts of time, availability and resources even when these are not reciprocated.
And where I fail, I pray for Your forgiveness and the courage to show humility in seeking reconciliation with my loved one.
From how You have treated me, dear Lord, I pray I will treat them with that same love in the power of Your Holy Spirit.
3. A prayer for them to know God
Knowing that God has a heart for the lost (Luke 15) and wants my loved ones to come to trust and believe in Him (2 Peter 3:9), I can pray with confidence that He will open their eyes that they may know Him more.
A suggested prayer can be:
Heavenly Father, I lift up the needs of (my loved one) particularly (name his needs here). I pray You will meet his current needs and through that, his greatest need, which is You. In time, help him realize that only You can satisfy the deepest desires of his heart—and that he is made for more than what this world can offer.
Lord Jesus, I pray he will come to know You as his personal Lord and Savior. I pray You will forgive his sins and bring him into Your family–into an eternity with you where there is no greater joy.
I pray for the barriers he may have in coming to faith in You (name these barriers specifically). I pray for opportunities to explore these barriers together, such as through a loving conversation.
I take comfort that no heart is too far from Your reach. And I am comforted that You are a God who specializes in seeking and finding the lost–even when I was lost, You found me.
I pray and commit myself to walking with (my loved one) as he journeys to faith in You. And however long that takes, I pray You will help me persevere in bringing to You his needs until one day he is able to do that on his own.
Thank You, dear Lord, for hearing my prayers and caring for my loved one and wanting them to come home to you even more than I do.
It is in Jesus’ Name that I pray with faith,
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