Posted by: mikenicholsblog | March 13, 2017

who are you praying for?

Reading about Paul last week in Acts and now in Romans has caused me to reflect on his passion for the Gospel. He was remarkable in his desire for people to know the Savior. Earlier in his life, however, he could have been on someone’s “least likely to accept Christ” list. Over the past week, I have written articles about Paul and the power of the gospel. At the same time, I was not living that power in my own prayer time. I was praying for a man, while doubting that he would ever come to Christ. Shame on me! So I want to give one more illustration of the power of the gospel that I wrote several years ago.

We all walk through life with strong viewpoints. One of the areas where this is especially true is in observing others. Think about it, you have opinions on everybody in your world. And one of our struggles is once we settle on an impression of an individual it usually sticks. How we view someone determines how we relate to them, how much we trust them, and whether we really enjoy being around them. And once the view of a person is cemented in our mind, it usually doesn’t change. Can a leopard change its spots? In our humanity, we’ve learned this “truth” from experience.  But is that truth absolute? Is it God’s truth?  As these questions play themselves out in your life of faith, are there people who you have mentally determined will never have a life-changing encounter with Christ?

I can remember it like it was yesterday. A young associate of mine shared that his dad was having heart issues. I responded with the obligatory, “I will pray for him” and received stunning words in return. He answered, “I’m an agnostic.”  So began our discussions about faith and salvation. Eventually, my friend came to a place of decision and was changed – eternally. On a long distance call just the other day, he relayed to me that he was being considered for a deacon position at his church. It has been almost nine years since he gave that initial answer, and his life, family, church and business have all been affected by his turn to Christ. God is in the life changing business, and He is not limited by our opinion that someone will never come to Christ. Don’t kid yourself; you and I struggle with doubts and observations of certain non-believers. I did not put my agnostic friend high on the ready to accept Christ list … but he did!

Saul (Paul) would have been viewed as anything but a candidate to be a follower of Jesus. He was ruthless with his opposition to the church, and had no qualms about persecuting Christians. That was, until the Road to Damascus. His life was forever changed when he was confronted and converted by Jesus. What Paul accomplished for Christ is well chronicled in Scripture. The way God used him literally expanded the gospel message throughout the world. But I doubt that many Christians of his generation would have put him high on the candidate for salvation list. God was not limited then, nor is He now, to our narrow views about a person’s redemptive readiness.

My thoughts are that you may have someone in your life who has yet to receive Christ as Savior. You may have already developed the viewpoint that they are not interested and probably will never accept His life-changing message. I struggle with the same misplaced notions about people in my life. But then I am reminded of my friend and the Apostle Paul. God loves all of us, and is not willing that any should perish. So why should we have such limited views about what He can do? Imagine what it would be like if that someone(s) in your life came to Christ? Are you willing to change your view and pray daily for their salvation?

Now back to my friend the agnostic. After he came to Christ, his wife (who I had never met) told me that she had been praying for nine years that her husband would accept Christ. I am sure glad she didn’t give up. I don’t know if Stephen or other believers were praying for Paul before his conversion, but in my heart I believe somebody was. I don’t know who you care about, but I know they deserve your prayers. And remember, God loves them, you can pray for them, and they just might be used of God in a mighty way.

Who are you praying for?


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