Pray even when your loved one is indifferent
You know the power of prayer. You are called TO pray. You know prayer to work and you just cannot stop doing it. However, the person you’re praying for may not ask you outright to stop praying for them, but it is more than clear that your prayers—and your faith, for that matter—aren’t necessarily welcome. They certainly aren’t up for discussion.
First, breathe. You not the first to face an uncomfortable situation when it comes to prayers for your religiously despondent child or grandchild (or other family member). Problems abound!
I don’t need to detail the problems here; each of us here may have something uniquely specific. I will, however, encourage you to pursue and persist with your prayer life because you know what I know: prayer matters. It is one of the best ways we can bring on a relationship with a loved one and God.
When it comes to relationships, I hope the following true and personal story inspires you.
My brother is one of the most religious men I know. Faithfully, he reads his Bible daily. He is a prayer warrior. I did graduate with a doctorate in ministry. This September, I will have served a single congregation and community for 14 consecutive years.
I didn’t share this to be boastful. Please don’t hear this as such. We are to be humble, not prideful (1 Peter 5:6, Philippians 2:3-11, Matthew 23:12, 2 Chronicles 7:14).
Instead, focus what you’ll (hopefully) remember what I share next. Our sweetly beloved grandmother prayed for us grandsons. I mean, she PRAYED. At the time, I think it’s accurate to say that my brother and I knew of God but were both essentially faithless. It wasn’t that our grandmother’s prayers for us were unappreciated. We were just teenagers who didn’t connect to the God we would meet, worship and depend on until much later. In fact, we both missed our church confirmation as early teens. That confirmation, I will say, didn’t mean anything to us at the time.
What means everything today is our grandmother’s prayer life for us. Unfortunately, she never experienced the positive affects of her prayers for us. She died before she knew we committed our lives to Jesus.
Here is my advice. Just hold on, okay? Hold out. You may have the same experience my grandmother had. While she was here on earth, her prayers were not answered.
Your prayers may not be answered in your lifetime, either.
This doesn’t mean you should ever stop them.
I preached this past Sunday on Lois and Eunice, two faithful women who raised their grandson/son Timothy in the Christian faith (1 Timothy 1:1-8). The duo faced challenges. There was a faith mixed marriage. By this I mean that Eunice, Timothy’s mother, practiced Christianity. Her husband did not. In commentary for my sermon prep, I read commentary that seems to size up the effectiveness of both women. In the blog titled, “Who was Eunice?”, Jack Wellman writes, “Even though Timothy was taught the Scriptures by his mother, even from an early age, he was apparently not saved through his mother’s witness. We know that Paul remembered Timothy with tears (2 Timothy 1:4) possibly because he had led him to faith in Christ and considered himself to be Timothy’s spiritual father as he wrote “To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord” (2 Timothy 1:2). It appears then that Timothy’s mother and grandmother watered and Paul fertilized and God gave the increase of Timothy’s salvation.”
Respectfully, I don’t draw the conclusion Wellman does. This is not a debate. I am not polarizing. I’m not even arguing. I just don’t see at this point where Scripture supports his ideas. This is no slight or slam by any means. Is he right? Is he wrong? I don’t know. I cannot talk to these two faithful women today. I cannot speak to Timothy, either—at least not now. I’m certain Paul was Paul and, with the scope and width of Timothy’s written work before us, it is clear the apostle certainly and lastingly had a profound impact on Timothy’s ministry—and perhaps Lois and Eunice’s ministry, too.
What I do know is that Lois and Eunice did remarkable work. I imagine Wellman lauds them as does every other commentator and scholar has for all the right and obvious reasons: these two pour their faith into this child.
This brings me back to how this column started. Pour your faith into your children, family, and extended family. Don’t stop. Gently, consistently, lovingly, patiently and persistently, just keep praying and praying and praying. Prayerful people know God’s timing is everything (2 Peter 3:8-9, Proverbs 16:9, Lamentations 3:25-26). Prayerful people also know we look through a mirror dimly (1 Corinthians 13:12).
Prayerful, scriptural people also know that good people don’t go to heaven; saved people do. This is not a fear tactic. This is neither inflammatory nor divisive. This is the Word of God (Acts 4:12). We do what we do. We pray. We even pray hard. The rest? The rest means we rest in our God who is love and shows love. Our God guides from, in, and through love.
I close in prayer for those who pray. Keep on keeping on. God knows your loves, your heart, and your hope.