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When I was 24 years old, I remember feeling an unexpected desire to pray for two childhood friends I had not seen in years. Six years after high school graduation, the Holy Spirit gave me this intense evangelical impulse to pray for their salvation. We had little contact after high school, but I would hear updates on their lives through mutual friends. (This occurred right before the internet took off, so there was no email or social media at that point.) I gathered that my two friends were generally doing fine, but I did know that neither one knew the Lord or attended church then.
So, I started including these two former classmates in my daily prayers.
For a couple of years, nothing seemed to be happening. One old friend was living down in Central America at that time. The other was climbing his career ladder several hundred miles away.
Three years later, my friend living overseas returned to town for an extended visit. During his time back home, we reconnected and spent time “hanging out.” I also began sharing my faith with him. It’s hard to recall what I said during those weeks of catching up. All I know is that I invited him to church, and one night after an evening service—we were talking in my car, and the next thing I knew, I’m leading my friend in the salvation prayer!
Praise God! He answered my prayers! My friend even returned to my church several days later and got baptized! He’s been living for the Lord ever since.
Meanwhile, 25 years later – I’m still praying for my other classmate.
As far as I can tell, he doesn’t seem any closer to God than when my prayers started. Two-and-a-half decades in, I cannot see any progress from my perspective.
I’m sure the Lord is teaching me many things through this experience: patience, faith, and respecting the individual. In the tenth chapter of Matthew, we read through the names of each disciple:
Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James, the son of Zebedee, and John, his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him. (Matthew 10:2-4 NKJV)
When you think about how Jesus went about calling His twelve disciples—He didn’t call them all at once. Jesus called each disciple in His own time.
Each disciple had a unique personality, a different background, outlook, and various skill set. Since His earthly ministry, for over 2,000 years, Jesus has called billions of individuals—some folks respond quickly, while others may take years—or decades—to accept Christ into their hearts.
Sometimes God tests our faith. I know that the Lord can do anything. My unsaved friend is neck-deep in worldly matters and cares and has displayed contempt for Christianity. His salvation will be a miracle indeed.
Although the results are out of my hands, my God can make anything possible.
When Jesus sent out the twelve to spread the Good News, He said,
And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake the dust from your feet. (Matthew 10:14)
The decision to follow Jesus is up to my friend. However, I will continue to stand in faith and pray for his salvation. The Lord wants me to pray—not preach at him in person or email him Bible verses. Sometimes God does use those approaches. But in my case, the Lord wants me to pray. So, I am still asking the Lord to orchestrate my old friend’s salvation however He sees fit. Yes, I’ve been praying a long time for this. But I trust that the timing—and the results—are God’s will.
Sometimes we don’t know why the Lord asks us to do things His way. But we should follow His lead anyway—because the Lord is omnipotent. Trust His plan.
Scripture is taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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