As a Christian, I long for more people to know my Lord. I want Jesus to be cherished in every heart, because he is worthy of such love. So I pray for unbelievers, and I share the gospel when I have an opportunity. Then I wait on the Lord to change hearts, because only he can. But recently I was reminded of what a dangerous request I am praying. I am praying for the destruction of their world, and for God to remake them in a new one.
We see the implications throughout the New Testament. Nicodemus sought Jesus at night and realized he had read the Bible wrong (John 3). We don't know if the Rich Young Ruler ever changed, but we know he understood to follow Jesus he had to (Luke 18). Paul was blinded on the road to Damascus and set upon a new course (Acts 9). The gospel crashes into lives and begins renovating everything, and the demolition isn't easy.
When we pray for God to open hearts we are not praying something easy or mild. We are praying for devastation. There are no true unbelievers. All people believe something. And for anyone to begin believing something new, like the gospel of Jesus Christ, they must first stop believing something else. That is incredibly hard because we don’t change easily, especially when it comes to belief. Our belief system is the most intimate part of our selves. We cling tightly to the ideas that shape and explain who we are.
So praying for God’s salvation is praying for the destruction of current beliefs, and for the gift of new belief. We are praying for God to push people to the end of their current belief system – to take them to the precipice of the mountain they believe in and to look over the edge and jump off. No matter how high the mountain, the fall is going to hurt. We are praying that God strips them of all diversion, so that his message is clear and loud. We are praying for disruption of lives.
I am beginning to add on to my prayers for the unbelievers in my life. I am adding a request that God would prepare me to be there when they fall off their belief mountain. When they hit the ground shaking and screaming and weeping with fear and despair, I am praying that I will be there with good news from a good God who could not let them go on any longer. I am praying that I will be there when the bottom falls out of their life so that God might use me to give them the message of the only mountain that cannot be shaken.
We must remember that as we pray for conversions we are praying for destruction before we are praying for building. We all have to unbelieve something in order to believe something else.
When the crash is heard in the other house, are you going to be there? We must be ready, because if the Lord is to grant the number of conversions that I know many churches and many Christians pray for, we need to be ready when lives fall apart.
So let’s get ready now. Let's pray. Let’s read our Bible. Let’s prepare our churches. Let’s open our heart to God. And when the cries are heard in the streets let’s walk through the shattered and battered and bruised with news so wonderful that the savior we proclaim becomes the savior they see and love.
We can't save them. Only God can do that. But we can be there with the glad news of grace when they need it most.