I have always struggled with praying for unbelievers - not about them coming to salvation. I pray for that all the time for those I know and love who are lost. But I struggle with praying specific prayers for them, like asking God to reveal His will for them, show them what decision to make, and to bless them. I have kind of thought...what's the point? God can't work in their lives anyway, if they have not let Him in. And if good things happen in their lives without God, they won't know it's God doing it, and they won't see a need for Him either. After all, things are going great without Him! Shouldn't we be praying for their lives to be miserable without God??
But now I see it totally differently. Vince and I are taking a class at church on Wednesday nights, and we are going through a book that our pastor has written about finding your true identity in Christ. We broke up into small groups and shared our stories about how each of us came to Christ. After hearing people's stories, I had a "light bulb moment". God sees our lives as a whole...past, present and future. He may know that down the road, that person will believe, and our prayers for them now may be setting the stage for their future...one that does include God. They will someday be able to look back on their lives and see all the ways that God loved them, protected them, blessed them....even when they were yet sinners. His love and care for us does not need to be preceded by an acceptance of Him. God doesn't need the glory right away...He's not like us. He is patient, and loving, and faithful...all the time. Even when we don't recognize Him and appreciate His faithfulness at the time.
We may not see the roots growing deep under the soil...but God does. He sees the seeds that are sown, through our prayers and in the way we bless others with the blessings that He showers on us. We may not see the fruit for many years to come, but God sees that single seed burried deep in the ground. He tends to it, nurtures it, and already sees the tall, strong tree that will mature and the fruit that it will bear.
Have you ever looked back on your life, maybe even back before you were following Christ, and been able to see ways that God intervened - even before you knew Him? He was there. He saw your future. He knew your past. And He knew that it would be a while before you "got it". But He was patient. And those who may have been praying for you - the prayers that brought about the very blessings that you were oblivious to, probably were wondering if their prayers were doing any good at all.
But all the while, God was watching...and working...and saying, "Just wait. Wait 'til you see what I've done. It really will be quite amazing."
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back from captivity." Jeremiah 29:11-14