“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.”
(1 John 5:14-15 ESV)
Many times in life, as His children, we are praying about an issue or a decision or a problem that we are not really sure exactly what the Lord would have us do, how He would have us respond, what the outcome should be. So, we pray, reading His Word, being led by the Holy Spirit, seeking good, godly counsel, accessing our practical situations, and at the end of it, the Lord gives us Himself, gives us His answer. And we are to listen and obey and live in Christ.
But there are some times in life, where when we are praying, we can know exactly the will of the Lord and we can pray right with Him on the matter.
One of these matters is salvation. We know with confidence from the Scripture that the Lord desires that every person be saved.
So when you are praying for the salvation of another, you can know, yep, that’s the Lord’s will that this person be saved. That this family member, loved one, friend, neighbor, stranger, people group know Him and be made new in Him.
1 John 5:14-15, the Scripture that I began this post with, is the very scripture verse that encouraged me to the very end as I prayed for my prodigal sister. As she would now say, she was “acting a fool,” just like the prodigal son in the Bible. She didn’t leave with an inheritance, but she did leave with just enough to get herself into a good heap of trouble. And by the very gracious, slow to anger, patience, everlasting loving-ness of the Lord, she returned Home. to Him.
The Lord has LAVISHED His grace all over her life, cup overflowing, head drenched, body soaked, and feet standing in a puddle of grace. To count the ways we would be here all day. And praise the Lord, one day we will have all of eternity in our heavenly home with Him to count the ways. To have the best kind of hindsight there will ever be. And to just laugh giddy in the sweet, solid love of the Lord.
I want to share with you what the Lord taught me all throughout the middle of that time. The time when my prodigal sister was out sleeping with the pigs and eating their slop for dinner. Yep, she needed salvation. And yes ma’am, I needed Salvation, too.
The Lord is our salvation – He has become my Salvation and my Song. And during this time, I knew two things.
One, the Bible didn’t tell me much from the parable of the prodigal son what I was to do with the reality that at my fingertips I had available to me multiple ways to communicate with my sister. I mean, we can imagine that the father might have been, through connections, able to keep some tabs on the whereabouts and wanderings of his wayward son. But we know there were not cell phones. And email. and facebook, and any of the other plethora of social media outlets. We know the lost son didn’t come home for family birthdays or for the Christmas holiday. We know the family didn’t sit together at dinner during the prodigal’s prodigal-time. So, there was part of my that didn’t really know exactly what to do from that parable with my sister while she was, well, being a prodigal.
Two, I knew in my heart of hearts and with all my might I did not want to be the other brother. I’m naturally predisposed to his disposition, but that’s not who I wanted to be in the story. I wanted to be more like the father, welcoming and loving when his family returned. I wanted to be like the willing servant who killed the cow to enjoy for the family party when the dude returned. I thought, I might not actually kill a cow, but I certainly can take her to Five Guys for a hamburger to celebrate,… or something.
And then there was one other thing I knew. Not from the parable directly, but from the Father. and from Scripture.
That I could pray with confidence never faltering for her salvation. For her return home. For her to know the cleansing forgiveness of the Lord’s love. For her to know Love without fear. For her to know freedom without any payment. For her to know a party with no overhead cost. For her to know unconditional, impartial, everlasting, eternal, sacrificial, Jesus-Love.
I knew from scripture – from Genesis to Revelation – that the Lord wanted to save her. He wants ALL mankind to be saved. I knew that He wanted her to know and to live in His love for her. I KNEW that.
So that’s what I would tell the Lord. I would pray to Him, “Lord, I KNOW you want my sister saved. So, save her. Whatever it takes. Whenever is your best timing. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! for saving her.” And that is how I would ask others to pray. I didn’t know when or how or what in the world I was supposed to do besides pray sometimes, but I knew to pray and I knew the Lord wanted to answer my prayer.
I’m honestly relieved that this wasn’t one of those times where I was called to pray for her to return for the next 25 – 50 years of my life or hers. The Lord answered pretty quickly, all things considered, hindsight twenty-twenty. And the Lord was gracious in the mean time to show me how to respond in love, though honestly I wasn’t always perfect (y’all know me… I’m not GREAT on the perfect side of things).
My sister has returned home, and she’s still learning to live in the drenched-by-grace reality of the Living God, so there’s still much to join her in prayer over (y’all, that’s all of us in any and every part of our lives).
I want to encourage you, sweet reader, whoever you are in the battle for, whoever you are praying hard and long and steadily for their salvation – keep on fighting. Keep on praying. Keep on doing the good work. The Lord will reap the harvest for His glory. If you are called to the life-long battle, know that for eternity you and I and that saved, loved one will be celebrating at the best party ever, forever!
“And we know that He hears us, whatever we ask…”