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Sunday, November 03, 2013

Does the Bible really say that? Excerpt from my book, 8

[The previous post in the series was about the importance of praying for other believers, according to the New Testament. This post continues that topic.] 
That they may be able to effectively communicate the gospel, and that opportunities to do so will occur: 2 Thessalonians 3:1 Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may spread rapidly and be glorified, even as also with you; 2 and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and evil men; for not all have faith.

Colossians 4:2 Continue steadfastly in prayer, watching therein with thanksgiving; 3 praying together for us also, that God may open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds;

Christians are to pray especially for other Christians who are leaders: Romans 15:30 Now I beg you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in your prayers to God for me, 31 that I may be delivered from those who are disobedient in Judea, and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints; 32 that I may come to you in joy through the will of God, and together with you, find rest.

1 Thessalonians 5:25 Brothers, pray for us.

Hebrews 13:18 Pray for us, for we are persuaded that we have a good conscience, desiring to live honorably in all things.

The passages above are from the writings of Paul, James, and whoever wrote Hebrews. Other New Testament writers were also concerned to pray for those who would read their writings:

1 Peter 5:10 But may the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a little while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. 11 To him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.

Jude 1:24 Now to him who is able to keep them* from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory in great joy, 25 to God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.
*Text note – or “you.”

Jude 1:24-25 is more adoration than supplication, but it is also a prayer for believers.

Perhaps the greatest mass conversion of unbelievers in history took place in conjunction with Pentecost. Although it is possible that the 120 disciples, meeting as described in Acts 1-2, were praying for non-believers, there's no evidence of that. It's hard to believe that they were praying for each of the 3,000 or so who came to belief, since this was a diverse group, people from several different racial and ethnic types, even speaking languages that the 120 didn't know. But the 120, especially Peter, were transformed, as a result of drawing aside and praying, and as a result of the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus had told them, in Luke 24:49, to “wait in the city of Jerusalem until you are clothed with power from on high.” Presumably that's most of what they were praying for.

The last words in the New Testament are a prayer for believers:

Revelation 22:21 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with all the saints. Amen.

In conclusion, the Bible doesn’t say that praying for non-believers was important in the early church. There is more in the New Testament about praying for government leaders than about praying for unbelievers. It does indicate that prayer for believers was very important. I need to pray for Christians with unbelieving family members, Christians who work and go to school with unbelievers, and other believers who can be representatives of Christ to someone who needs it. It’s good to pray for unbelievers, but I should also pray that some godly people will influence them, in ways that I can’t. Perhaps I can be a godly person, influencing an unbeliever that some other Christian, one I don’t even know, is concerned about, and help win that unbeliever to Christ.

The above, except for the insert in brackets, which was put in for clarity in changing from a full book to a series of blog posts, is an excerpt from my recently published e-book, Does the Bible Really Say That?, which may be obtained free of charge, or purchased from Amazon for $0.99, which is the lowest price Amazon lets an author set. Scripture quotations are from the World English Bible, public domain.

The previous post in this series is here.

Thanks for reading! 

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