Pray for Unbelievers

Devotions

On December 25, 1914, during World War I, a remarkable display of kindness happened between opposing armies. The so-called Christmas Truce was an unofficial ceasefire that found German and Allied troops climbing out of their trenches, warily at first, to exchange food, sing carols, and even play a friendly soccer match. The soldiers who shook hands on the battlefield that day demonstrated human compassion and testified to their hope for future peace.

The Christians in today’s passage had also been battered recently by their enemies. Peter and John had just been released from prison, where they had been unjustly detained for preaching the gospel. Receiving them back, the church prayed together. Their prayer is starkly honest, acknowledging to the Lord the frustration of being opposed by raging nations and wicked rulers (vv. 25–26).

But the church does not pray without hope. They began their prayer by addressing the Lord of all creation who created all things and rules over them by His sovereign power. They also confessed that even the wicked forces that fight against them did so only under the power and permission of the Lord (v. 28). They knew that Satan and his angels are subject to One greater than themselves. We can learn from the early church’s prayerful example to be honest before the Lord and to be honest about the Lord.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about this prayer is found at its conclusion. We might expect the disciples to pray for the total obliteration of their enemies. Instead, we find them interceding for boldness to proclaim the gospel and power to work miracles among the unconverted. In short, they asked God to make His enemies His friends.

Apply the Word

Jesus instructed us to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt. 5:44). Though most of us don’t experience persecution the way early Christians did, we still might be surrounded by people who hate our Savior. Spend time praying for unbelievers, asking God to reconcile them to Himself and make them His friends.

BY Megan Hill

Megan Hill (BA, Grove City College) serves on the editorial board for Christianity Today and is a regular contributor to the Her.meneutics blog and The Gospel Coalition website. She is the author of Praying Together: The Priority and Privilege of Prayer: In Our Homes, Communities, and Churches (Crossway), and she lives in West Springfield, Mass., with her husband and three children.

Browse Devotions by Date