In the New Testament, we get introduced to another reason to pray for unbelievers. Prayer for their salvation and prayers for workers to go out into the harvest.
So now the general idea of prayer for unbelievers falls into the following categories:
- Prayer to preserve an unbeliever from their due judgment and wrath from God.
- Prayer for the unbeliever, particularly those who are especially evil, to be judge by God and receive their just rewards.
- Prayers for physical healing.
- Prayer for salvation for the unbeliever and for believing workers to go into the harvest.
So what are the prayers for unbelievers in the New Testament?
We pray for our enemies.
Matthew 5:44 (ESV) But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
The model prayer includes forgiving others.
Matthew 6:9-15 (ESV)
9 Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you,
15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Luke 11:2-4 (ESV)
2 And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come.
3 Give us each day our daily bread,
4 and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.”
Prayer for workers to go out to the harvest.
Matthew 9:37-38 (ESV)
37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few;
38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
Luke 10:2 (ESV) And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.
Prayer for those who abuse us.
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.
Jesus’ prayer that does not include the world but only believers.
John 17:9 (ESV) I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.
Jesus Prayer of Father forgive them.
Luke 23:34 (ESV) And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Acts 7:60 (ESV) And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
Prayer for Physical Healing.
Acts 28:8 (ESV) It happened that the father of Publius lay sick with fever and dysentery. And Paul visited him and prayed, and putting his hands on him healed him.
Prayer for Salvation and Restoration.
Romans 10:1 (ESV) Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.
2 Corinthians 13:9 (ESV) Your restoration is what we pray for.
1 Timothy 2:1-4 (ESV)
1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,
2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.
3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior,
4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
God again points out He does not listen to the prayers of those who do evil.
1 Peter 3:12 (ESV) For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
John 9:31 (ESV) We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him.
Asking wrongly. While true this verse is directed to believers it is a principle we should remember when praying for anyone.
James 4:3 (ESV) You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
Surprisingly there are also imprecatory prayers in the NT. I would have thought they were only in the OT. (Imprecatory means curses or prayers for punishment.)
2 Timothy 4:14 (ESV) Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds.
But ultimately every single prayer uttered, whether for a believer or an unbeliever, has one goal – To Glorify The Lord.
John 14:13-15 (ESV)
13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.
15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.