Praying for unbelievers: Pray for sight; pray for light.
During each year’s 40 Days of Prayer, we’re asking all of our members to commit to praying daily for at least one person who does not know the Lord. But, like we thought about in last week’s post, it’s easy to pray repetitious prayers without giving much thought to our requests. So this week I wanted to ask specifically, how should we pray for unbelievers?
The answer, it seems to me, is to pray for sight and pray for light. Pray for eyes to see the spiritual reality that exists all around us. Pray for the ability to see with faith what is unseen to our physical eyes. Pray for God to shine light in the darkness, specifically the light of the gospel, and ask God to prevent Satan from blinding the minds of unbelievers, specifically the unbeliever you are praying for by name.
I get all of this from several places throughout Scripture that show us that a primary need for those apart from God is for light and sight. Consider just a few:
NUMBERS 22: A DONKEY SEES AND SPEAKS
An early place, though not the first, that we see this principle that nonbelievers need sight and light is found in one of the more humorous stories in Scripture. In Numbers 22, God uses a talking donkey to open the eyes of a man to spiritual realities around him.
Balaam was a man who had been summoned by the King of Moab to oppose Israel during their wilderness wanderings. Despite God telling him not to oppose God’s people, Balaam accepted a payment from the king of Moab and went, apparently with the intention of disobeying God.
Three times along the way, the angel of the Lord stood in the path, blocking Balaam from going any further, only Balaam didn’t see it. His donkey, however, did. Each time, the donkey turned away from the path to avoid the angel’s flaming sword. Finally, on the third time, the donkey spoke. Read these words from Numbers 22, and pay attention to the final line:
When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she lay down under Balaam. And Balaam’s anger was kindled, and he struck the donkey with his staff. Then the LORD opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?” And Balaam said to the donkey, “Because you have made a fool of me. I wish I had a sword in my hand, for then I would kill you.” And the donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your donkey, on which you have ridden all your life long to this day? Is it my habit to treat you this way?” And he said, “No.”
Then the LORD opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, with his drawn sword in his hand. And he bowed down and fell on his face.Numbers 22:27–31
“The Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw.”
2 KINGS 6: HORSES AND CHARIOTS OF FIRE
The second place in Scripture that comes to mind is later in the history of Israel, in the time of the prophet Elisha. Israel was under constant attack from the king of Syria, but Elisha continually told Israel’s king of the movements of the Syrian army. Frustrated by what was happening, the king of Syria sent his entire army to surround Elisha and capture him (not a smart idea, considering that they knew he was able to see their movements!).
Early in the morning, when Elisha’s servant went out at the start of the day, he saw that their city where they lived had been surrounded overnight by “an army of horses and chariots.” Struck with fear, he returned to Elisha to deliver the devastating news that their capture was imminent.
That in mind, read Elisha’s response:
He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.2 Kings 6:16–17
“Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.”
2 CORINTHIANS 4: BLINDNESS REMOVED THROUGH THE GOSPEL
There are many other places in Scripture we could go––Ephesians 6 and the reality of spiritual warfare; Mark 8 and Jesus restoring sight to the blind man at Bethsaida or John 9 and Jesus healing the man who was born blind; the prayer of Psalm 119:18, asking God to open our eyes to the truth of his word––but the final one we’ll consider in this post is from 2 Corinthians 4.
From the previous two stories, we’ve seen that Scripture informs us that there is an unseen spiritual reality all around us. We need to have our eyes opened to the truth. 2 Corinthians 4 tells us plainly that spiritual blindness comes from Satan himself, and that the remedy is the gospel:
… the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. …. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.2 Corinthians 4:4, 6
The god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers, but God opens eyes through the light of the gospel.
What should we pray for nonbelievers?
- We should ask God to prevent Satan from blinding them any longer.
- We should ask God to shine the light of the gospel into their hearts.
- We should ask God to show them the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
- We should pray that God would send someone to them with the message of the gospel.
- We should ask God for opportunities for us to be the ones to bring the gospel to them.
Bert Watts has served since December 2016 as the Senior Pastor at Mountain Creek Baptist Church, where he has been on staff since 2012.
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