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.