How might a disciple of Jesus pray for people who have not yet come into relationship with Christ? How might we pray in the face of skepticism and even resistance to the gospel? These people may be friends, parents or children. They may be living in our house or clear across the world. They may be in an open and loving relationship with ourselves or things might be distressed. Here are a few things that might be helpful...
Recall that Jesus cares for them even more than you do.
Therefore, pray with joy, confidence and expectancy. Thank Jesus for his work of drawing this person toward himself, for his love and mercy for this person. Remember, Jesus’ love for them is larger than that of your own. So don’t try to “coax” Jesus into action; rather, join with him in who he is and what he is already doing, even if you can’t yet easily perceive it.
“Jesus, I thank you for Susie and the love you have for her. I thank you that you are already active in her life, drawing her to yourself. I praise you that nothing is impossible for you and that you desire Susie to know you deeply and to walk in freedom from all that is darkness.”
Remember that this is a spiritual battle. When you are praying for a spiritually lost person to find faith in Jesus you are engaging in a battle; not against that person but against the enemy of their soul. 2 Corinthians 4:4 tells us that “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” The enemy is actively working against their perception of the goodness of Christ. So mount up soldier, pull up your big girl or big boy pants and fearlessly engage the battle. How might one do that? Glad you asked. Bind what needs to be bound. In Matthew 16:18-19 Jesus gives us a glimpse of how we can participate in the spiritual battle that is ongoing against all people, including those we love and care about deeply. “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” So what ought we to bind? Bind whatever barriers are perceptible to you. If there is deception, bind the spirit of deception. If apathy, bind the spirit of apathy. Some other typical spirits of resistance might be a prideful spirit, a wounding spirit, a false-Jesus spirit, a spirit of condemnation or unworthiness and so on. When you pray to bind these spirits do so as one seated with Christ and who bears his authority. You do not need to be in the presence of the person you are praying for, but it is likely wise to speak out loud so that dark spirits, who cannot read your mind, will be able to hear your commands. In Jesus’ name and his authority, I come against the spirit of __________ that wars against Susie and tries to keep her from clearly seeing the goodness and love of Jesus. I renounce you and bind your work in Susie’s life. I revoke your ability to [deceive, wound, condemn, etc.). I confuse your language towards Susie and in Jesus’ name render your efforts as futile and foolish. I bind all efforts to blind Susie from the light and love of Jesus. Such spiritual warfare can be tremendously effective but also needs to be ongoing as that person does not yet walk in the absolute freedom of Christ. And yet, we are not even at the best part. Loose what needs to be loosed. That which we bind, the kingdom of darkness, is limited and finite. That which we loose is unlimited and infinite; it is the very presence and glory of Christ. In his grace, Jesus has designed our participation in praying for others to be focused upon releasing his very person upon their life. We don’t need to ask Jesus to do the binding and loosing as he has given us the keys to do this.
In Jesus’ name and his authority, I loose the love of Jesus upon Susie. May the light and the love of Jesus shine down upon her. May her mind perceive his goodness, his truth, his welcome, his holiness. May her deepest hungers be realized in Christ. May other Jesus-followers be released into her life, representing Jesus well in word and deed. May she hear the whispers of Jesus’ voice, drawing her to himself. May the veil be lifted and the Holy Spirit be manifest around her, revealing the deep love her Heavenly Father has for her.
Listen to how else Jesus might direct your prayer. Jesus knows stuff we don’t and knows the unique pathway he has for each person to come into a deep relationship with himself. Sit silently and listen to Jesus’ response to a simple question. Jesus, how else might you direct me to pray for Susie and to demonstrate and speak of your love and kindness in her life? **For a much deeper dive on this subject check out the book by K. Neill Foster and Paul L. King, Binding and Loosing: Exercising Authority over the Dark Powers (available on Amazon).