Popular evangelist Francis Chan has a wonderfully encouraging message for any Christian who’s ever been discouraged by a loved one’s disbelief.
“No heart is too hard for God to soften,” the pastor wrote recently on his Desiring God blog.
In a post titled, “No Soul Is Ever Too Far Gone,” Chan described his 30-year-long prayer for his best friend’s conversion.
The pastor recalled the spiritual blindness that befalls non-Christians, as described by the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians, chapter 4. He likened this blindness to being in a dark cave without a flashlight. Only God, he explained, has the power to illuminate one’s soul, exposing them to the truth of the Gospel.
“In some mysterious way, God shines light in a person’s heart so that he instantly sees the beauty of the Gospel. No amount of human effort can produce this. Salvation is a miracle of God,” he wrote.
This fact, however, doesn’t diminish the role believers can and should play in praying for the salvation of others.
“There is tremendous power in perseverant prayer,” Chan continued, noting the example of the persistent widow in Luke 18. “God is not like us; he is not bothered by his children asking for the same thing over and over. He is pleased by the faith demonstrated when we pray and pray for someone to be saved.”
He went on to share his own story of perseverance, which reaffirmed to him the power of prayer, and God’s perfect timing:
“My best friend in college decided that he didn’t want to follow Jesus. It broke my heart. Ken and I went our separate ways, and our lives went in opposite directions. I never stopped praying for him though — I couldn’t. Whenever Ken’s name would pop into my mind, prayer was my natural reflex.
Two years ago, I was speaking in Seattle where Ken lived. I invited him to the event so we could reconnect. We graduated from high school in 1985. After thirty years of prayer, God decided to shine his light on his heart. Suddenly Jesus looked beautiful to him and he couldn’t believe that he didn’t see it all this time. A few weeks later, Ken and his wife flew down to San Francisco, and I baptized them. I can’t express what a gift that was. He is one of the few people I have prayed for consistently for thirty years — a small price to pay to be with him for the next thirty million.”
Chan used his own testimony to assure others that “no soul is too far gone for God to bring back.” The key, however, is to understand that only God can cure spiritual blindness.
“Many of us would say that we believe this theological truth, but our actions betray us, revealing just how much we trust in people, speeches, and events,” he noted. “On more than one occasion, people have begged me to speak to their lost friends, believing that my words would make the difference.”
“Too often, I have granted their wish (rather than correcting their theology) and tried desperately to come up with the perfect words to talk their friends into falling in love with Jesus,” Chan wrote. “Do you see yet how ridiculous this is?”
“Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 4:4 that Satan has blinded these people,” he stressed. “Apart from God’s working, our begging someone to see the beauty of Christ is as pointless as begging a blind man to enjoy the beauty of a sunset. Do we direct our begging, first and foremost, to God?”
The pastor admitted that he still has “questions” regarding the mechanics of our prayers working with God’s perfect will, but that doesn’t keep him from “obey[ing] and pray[ing].”
“Though I’m still uncertain how it works, I have seen it work,” he noted, encouraging Christians to “pray with sincerity and expectation.”
“No heart is too hard for God to soften,” Chan concluded. “No son or daughter is too lost for God to rescue. Keep praying for God to do what only he can.”
(H/T: CBN News)