The other day I was walking along Bank street and came to one of the street people that I chat with. He was very drunk, so drunk that he hardly recognized me. Actually, he was so drunk that he had not noticed that a five-dollar bill had fallen out of the cup he used for begging.
I said “Hi,” and told him that his money had fallen out. I bent down and put the money securely in his cup. I proceeded to go to the coffee shop where I was going to do some work. About five or six minutes later, I looked up from what I was reading, and saw that he had collapsed on the sidewalk, and was lying there unconscious. I got up and joined the two or three people that had gathered around him to help.
When I got to him I noticed that the two five-dollar bills that had been in his cup were gone. I looked over at the two street people who were sitting about 20 or 30 feet away. I knew that one of them had probably stolen his money when they saw him collapse. I did not say anything to them. I knew one of them, and I knew that he was prone to violence, and that if I challenged him, he would both claim innocence and threaten violence. So I let it be.
This is a long introduction to a very simple point. You know people. You can “size them up.” This is often very important for your safety! But the problem is that you also “size them up” and conclude that someone like them would never become a Christian.
So even if you do pray for some of your friends and family to come to a saving faith in Jesus, you will not “waste” your prayers on someone you know will not become a Christian. Friends, this is very wrong-headed. I encourage you to regularly waste your prayers on the unlikely.
The story of the Canaanite or Syrophoenician woman who comes to Jesus for Him to deliver her daughter from demonic possession is a small story that opens a window to a large call on your life. (The story can be found in Matthew 15:21-28 and Mark 7:24-30).
In some ways, the story is similar to the parable Jesus tells of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32. The prodigal wants enough grace to be received into the father’s family as a servant and is surprised that by grace, the father accepts him back as his son. The woman calls Jesus Lord, and wants just enough grace to be accepted as a family pet in His household, only to receive vastly more grace.
In Jesus’ day, God’s covenant people would have said that the woman was immensely unlikely to want grace from the Messiah, or to receive grace from Him. She is clearly identified as a pagan who is connected with Israel’s historic enemies. People were clearly wrong. So, two short but important points.
First, please pray regularly for people you know to come to a saving faith in Jesus. Don’t mince words. Don’t use euphemisms. Pray for their conversion.
Second, please “waste” some of your prayers, and intentionally pray for people that you “know” will never become a Christian.
Frankly, you know no such thing. You do not know whether the Orthodox Jew, or devout Muslim, or Wiccan witch who is your neighbour, or your wealthy boss with the trophy wife, will come to saving faith in Jesus. Do not say “God’s No” for God. Pray for the salvation of the unlikely. “Waste” your prayers on them.
Oh yes, please pray for me that I will do the same.