Should We Be Praying For More Than an Unbeliever’s Salvation? (Part 1)

In Houston Has A Problem, I said this:

Now granted we are to pray for our leaders even if we disagree with them. But we are to pray for for their souls, their repentance and for their Salvation. We don’t pray that the Lord should prosper them or that the Lord will make their lives smooth and easy. If need be, we pray for the Lord to break their pride and arrogance and bring them to their knees in repentance. Not a pat on the back saying “Good job living in rebellion to the Lord.

Now by no means does this mean that we aren’t to bless and show mercy to even unbelievers, we are commanded to.

Luke 6:27-28 (ESV)

27 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,

 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.

But what are we to pray for unbelievers?  So I started through the Bible just to see what we are to be praying for unbelievers.

From the Old Testament we have the following types of prayers:

  • Prayer to preserve an unbeliever from their due judgment and wrath from God.
  • Prayers for physical healing.
  • Prayer for the unbeliever, particularly those who are especially evil, to be judge by God and receive their just rewards.

The earliest accounts of prayers for unbelievers:

Abraham prayed for Abimelech in order for God to spare his life from the wrath of God.

Genesis 20:17 (ESV) Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech, and also healed his wife and female slaves so that they bore children.

Moses prayed to the Lord for the Israelites in order to spare them from the wrath of God.

Numbers 21:7 (ESV) And the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you. Pray to the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.

Deuteronomy 9:27 (ESV) Remember your servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Do not regard the stubbornness of this people, or their wickedness or their sin,

Job prayed for his “friends”, whom the Lord accused of speaking wrongly, in order to spare them from the wrath of God.

Job 42:8-10 (ESV)
8 Now therefore take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves. And my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly. For you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.”
9 So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went and did what the Lord had told them, and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer.
10 And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.

David in the Psalms prayed for the enemies of God to get their just rewards.  Too many to list.

Proverbs stresses that the Lord hears the prayers of the upright and rejects the prayers of the wicked.

Proverbs 15:8 (ESV) The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but the prayer of the upright is acceptable to him.

Proverbs 15:29 (ESV) The Lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous.

Proverbs 28:9 (ESV) If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.

Jeremiah was instructed to not pray for a particular people.

Jeremiah 7:16 (ESV) “As for you, do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer for them, and do not intercede with me, for I will not hear you.

Jeremiah 11:14 (ESV) “Therefore do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer on their behalf, for I will not listen when they call to me in the time of their trouble.

Jeremiah 14:11 (ESV) The Lord said to me: “Do not pray for the welfare of this people.

Jeremiah was instructed to pray for the welfare of the city he was sent to just because it would involve his welfare.

Jeremiah 29:7 (ESV) But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.

Hope you found that as interesting as I did. Next we’ll look at the NT prayers for unbelievers.


6 thoughts on “Should We Be Praying For More Than an Unbeliever’s Salvation? (Part 1)

  1. Yes, I wholeheartedly agree with you. I have said this for years. Too many Christians have been taught that when somebody persecutes us, or abuses us in any way, that we should pray “blessings” on them — like money and good jobs and Cadillacs and good health. This is nutty. All that would do is affirm them in their sin. But, we have been told we can’t even call it sin: we must overlook the most heinous offenses and pretend they didn’t happen and feel like dirt for feeling hurt. This is not honesty. This will lead you to the insane asylum and confirm the sinner/abuser in his or her sin.

    You are right, Berean Wife — the BEST thing we can do for those who are far astray, or who have persecuted and abused us, is to pray CONVICTION down on them. Only this will lead them to repentance and to salvation, which is the best thing that they can have, not worldly goods.

    You wouldn’t believe the stunned looks when I tell Christians this. Many of them have been praying for money and Cadillacs for the very unrepentant people who killed their children, instead of praying for repentance for them. (Shaking head.)

    Berean Wife Reply:


    I think alot of the issue develops because when we read “bless” those who abuse and mistreat us; we naturally think material blesses. Since the Lord’s ways and thoughts are above our ways, we need to think about how the Lord would have us “bless” others and pray for them. What blessing can possibly be above salvation?

    We as believers are to forgive others and we are to do good to others. But I can’t find any prayers for unbelievers to be blessed recorded beyond healing, saving from God’s wrath and salvation. I was surprised and would have thought that imprecatory (cursing and evil) prayers would have been just for the OT period, however, Paul prays imprecatory prayers. Praying that others receive their just rewards. (2 Timothy 4:14) But since I’m not Paul, I’ll not start that. 🙂 I’ll just continue to pray for their salvation and for the Lord to do what it will take to bring another to repentance and salvation.

    While we as believers are to forgive others, that forgiveness does not mean that the consequences of sin are taken away. In your instance, a parent whose child has been killed will need to forgive the murderer but that in no way means that they should not expect full punishment of the crime. Even the Lord while forgiving us, does not always take away the consequences of our sin.

    Prayer is a very serious matter and isn’t really taught very much today. I’ve learned alot doing this study.

    Berean Wife

  2. Very interesting! so true. The truth is always out there on these situations and isn’t it cool how God chooses to reveal it to us, when we search it out in His word?

    Berean Wife Reply:


    You know I do not trust my own thinking anymore. There is much that I have thought previously and or been taught that just cannot be backed by Scripture. So many of us just have a cursory idea of the Truths of Scripture, but oh the treasure if we just dig deep. 🙂 It’s a treasure hunt led by the Holy Spirit.

    Berean Wife

  3. Yes, that is very good, Berean wife. I concur. I liked your second post on this subject, too. Incidentally, notice that Jesus said, “FATHER, forgive them,” not “I forgive them.” Same with Stephen. He did not say, “I for give them.” He asked the Father not to lay the sin to their charge. Praying for the FATHER to forgive (and yes, WE must be willing to forgive anything, no matter how serious) implies salvation, because for the FATHER to forgive unbelievers, the father must grant repentance and salvation. We can pray for the Father to forgive believers who have offended, too, because that too implies repentance, because where there is no repentance, there can be no forgiveness. Forgiveness without repentance on the part of the wrongdoer is not really forgiveness, it is just anmensty, which imples that no wrong was ever done. God does not overlook sin, He forgives sin. It is the same with us when we forgive. There must be repentance.

    (‘Course, that said…sometimes we ladies get angry with each other without a cause {“Did you hear what she said?”} and half the time don’t even know we have hurt each other. In this case, we need to just overlook and give amnesty, and need not go through the whole repentance/forgiveness process in Matthew 18.)

    Does that make sense? Anyway, these were 2 very very good posts. I got a lot out of them.

    And, yes, if there is repentance and forgiveness for something serious, like a child’s life taken, there is still consequences. That is so right.

    Good job!

    Berean Wife Reply:


    Now honestly, I had never thought of why Jesus prayed “Father, forgive them.” I can understand Stephen praying that, but Jesus, must be related to His submission to the Father.

    Sounds like you’ve been in some typical “women’s Bible studies” that are heavy on women and light on Bible study. 🙂

    I’m afraid we tend to pray a laundry list of things for others and ignore the main thing, the most important things.

    I’m glad you benefited from this study. I’m still working on some more about prayer, but time has been limited due to end of semester reports for school. Fun, fun! 🙁

    Berean Wife

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