“Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved.“
Romans 10:1 (NIV)
Do you have a family member, friend, acquaintance, or maybe a spouse that doesn’t share your faith? Or maybe a loved one has walked away from their faith?
As Christ-followers, we are called to share Jesus with the world. So naturally, we want to share Jesus with the people we share our lives with. However, when the people we are emotionally and relationally invested in repeatedly reject the gospel and tell you they want nothing to do with Jesus, it’s easy to become disheartened.
In Romans 9:1-3, Paul shares his anguish over Isreal’s unbelief, and then in Romans 10:1, he declares his heart’s desire and prayer were for the Israelites salvation. The NLT states Romans 10:1 this way: “Dear brothers and sisters, the longing of my heart and my prayer to God is for the people of Israel to be saved.” Paul loved the Jewish people; Isreal was his nation, and he longed for them to go to heaven. He did not want them to spend eternity in hell.
As someone with individuals in my immediate family who don’t share my faith, I can relate to Paul’s urgency for the Jewish people to accept Jesus Christ as the Messiah. I love my family, and I want them in heaven with me. Just as I’m sure, you want your people: family members, friends, and acquaintances to join you in heaven too.
So what do we do when we find that we are discouraged by a loved one’s rejection of the gospel?
Seeking God through prayer and the scriptures is the glue that holds me together when I feel like I’m falling apart–especially after experiencing an exchange between myself and someone I’m close to who doesn’t share my beliefs. I have also noticed that if I don’t talk to God about the issue, doubt, distress, and even anger begin to work their way into my heart, making the situation worse.
When dealing with discouragement, I have found prayer and spending time in God’s word to be the most beneficial actions I can take. Prayer brings a sense of peace to my heart as I focus on God, and I’m also encouraged as I meditate on the biblical truths found in God’s word.
Because prayer and spending time in the word has helped me, I want to share a scripture-filled prayer with you that you can pray when you get discouraged, frustrated, or even dismayed by a loved one’s unbelief. I have prayed these words many times myself. This prayer is for both the unbeliever and yourself. Blanks have been provided throughout the prayer, so you can easily add in their name as you pray.
Heavenly Father, I praise you for your kindness, mercy, and forgiveness. You are a good God, full of love and grace.
Lord, I pray for_____. It’s my heart’s desire that they will come to know Jesus as Lord and savior. (Rom. 10:1) God, I ask that you protect them from anything, whether people, things, or beliefs, that could push them further from you. I ask that you place others besides myself in their lives to help point them to you, Lord. God, every word in the bible is breathed out by you and full of truth. (Prov. 30:5, John 1:14, 2 Tim. 3:16) If there is anything false about you that _____ has come to believe, I pray it will be brought to light by the truth in your words.
Lord, your word tells me not to be afraid or discouraged because you are always with me. Please help me remember that I needn’t worry because you are by my side; I am not alone. (Psalm 34:18) God, help me keep my eyes and my thoughts on you when I’m experiencing doubt. You are my strength and strong tower; please help me keep going when I’m tempted to give up or lose hope. (Proverbs 18:10) Lord, protect my mind from the lies of the enemy and help me stand firm on the truth and power in the scriptures. ( Eph. 6:11,1 Corinth. 15:58) And although I don’t understand ______ continued unbelief, I know that you are in control, and I choose to put my trust in you. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Lord, I ask that you give me the wisdom not only to know what to say to _____, but the discernment to know when to speak and when to hold my tongue. (James 1:5) God, help me to be patient and understanding with _____ when we do discuss the gospel. (Eph. 4:2) Help my words to be gentle and not argumentative. (Proverbs 15:1;16:24) May my actions and words honor you, God, and speak truth in _____ life.
Lord, your word tells us to love others. (John 13:34-35) I ask that you help me love _____ with a love that reflects the love of Christ. Please give me eyes to see them as you see them and help me to extend _____ grace in the same way you have extended me grace. (Eph. 4:32) Lord, your word says we are to be ambassadors for Christ. (2 Corinth. 5:20) I pray that you will help me live my life in a way that points _____ to Jesus.
Lord, you are a wise God who gives wisdom to those who seek it; I thank you I can come to you for guidance. God, your word tells us that you hold us up with your hand when we are dismayed. (Isaiah 41:10) Thank you for always being with me and protecting me. Lord, I know that I won’t do this perfectly, so I ask in advance that you forgive me when I make mistakes. I thank you for your grace and forgiveness. In Jesus’ name, Amen!
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