Prayers for Salvation

God may have lessons for us in the way he answers our askings
The Bible tells us that anything we ask according to his will, we shall have (1 John 5:14-15). How is it, then, that not all prayers for the salvation of others are answered?
—Amy Lynn Nuttall, Brooklyn, New York

All Christians, I suppose, like myself, have prayed for the conversion of loved ones without seeing it happen. So did Paul (Rom. 9:1-3, 10:1), and so did prayer giant George Müller in at least one case (though the prayed-for person came to Christ at Müller's funeral).

Much is uncertain here; we cannot tell, for instance, how God may deal with holdouts who, as we say, "know it all" in the moments of their dying. But we know the pain of the love that makes us pray for them, and while they continue impervious to Christ, the pain stays.

Now, our heavenly Father is indeed a promise-keeping God who answers all proper prayer in positive terms. Proper prayers flow from faithful, obedient hearts bringing to God real needs that we beg him to meet. His answer may be "Yes, here and now, as requested," or "Yes, but in a better way than you asked," or "Yes, but you must wait—I will take the right action at the right time, which is not yet."

God, the perfect Father, loves to give good gifts to his children but reserves the right to give only the best, and only in the best way. What he gives, therefore, is not always what the praying believer had in mind.

But proper prayers are made according to his will; what does that mean? The Lord's Prayer shows. All our requests are to be a spelling out of our motive, purpose, and desire, which matches God's own, for the hallowing (honoring, glorifying) of his name (that is, of God himself as revealed in the Bible and its Christ).

The bottom line here must ever be that God's will (command and ...

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