Saturday, April 14, 2012

Does our praying 'save' anyone? Consider the conversion of Saul ....

Does our praying 'save' anyone? Consider the conversion of Saul ....

by Patte Smith on Monday, April 9, 2012 at 6:43pm ·

In considering the dramatic conversion of the religious devil Saul into the pious lion-hearted apostle Paul I am struck by the fact that it does not appear that the other apostles & a faithful man named Ananias were praying for his conversion. If they were, they must not have been praying 'in faith'. Why do I say this? Because when Jesus knocked Saul off his high horse, blinded him & regenerated his soul, Ananias didn't want to go to him & the disciples didn't even want to let him in their door! They didn't believe that the evil persecutor of Christians could be saved, so I doubt they were praying for his salvation. (Read Acts 9 for yourselves.) I give thanks to God that we do know that Saul HEARD a powerful gospel message preached by Stephen. And when the self-righteous, murderous Pharisee of pharisees heard the saving truth about Jesus Christ and Him crucified, he stood consenting to the humble preacher's stoning death (Acts 8:1) However, we believe that no Word of God returns void. It is very possible that God used the first Christians martyr's bold gospel proclamation to bring a measure conviction of sin to Saul. However, it did not appear from the Bible's rendition of what happened that when the prosecutor of Christians was brought to his knees, that the saints were in prayerful expectation of his becoming a brother in Jesus. I recount this story to remind us that WITH or WITHOUT our prayers, the Lord will have His way with all sinners.

That is not to say we should not pray. On the contrary, we are instructed to 'pray without ceasing' (I Thess 5:17) & Jesus taught us to love and pray for our enemies (Matt 5:44) Most of all, prayer is a sacred privilege because it is our blessed time of communion with our Beloved. But let us remember, my friends, that it is not US or 'our' PRAYERS or even 'our' faithful WITNESSING that causes spiritual re-birth. Yes, we must pray. We must witness. We must do both. We do this in humble obedience to the revealed will of God. It is both our duty and our joy to do so. We know that no sinner, no matter how wicked, is beyond the grace & power of Almighty God. Nothing is impossible with God. But, dear friends, make no mistake. Salvation is of the Lord. (John 2:9) Selah.

While well-meaning people want to pray to press God or make 'declarations' to obtain someone's salvation, that simply is not biblical. The Geneva Study Bible notes the following about regeneration: 

Regeneration is the gift of God's grace. It is the immediate, supernatural work of the Holy Spirit wrought in a person. It's effect is to quicken us to spiritual life from spiritual death. It changes the disposition of our souls, inclining our hearts to God. The fruit of regeneration is faith. Regeneration precedes faith. ---

We must live with child-like faith, trusting in God to save whosoever He will. RC Sproul writes about the "will of God" and I believe his biblical teaching helps us to think and pray rightly regarding someone's salvation: 

Many Christians become preoccupied or even obsessed with finding the "will" of God for their lives. If the will we are seeking is His secret, hidden, or decretive will, then our quest is a fool's errand. The secret counsel of God is His secret. He has not been pleased to make it known to us. Far from being a mark of spirituality, the quest for God's secret will is an unwarranted invasion of God's privacy. God's secret counsel is none of our business. This is partly why the Bible takes such a negative view of fortune-telling, necromancy, and other forms of prohibited practices.---

Let us pray like a child, trusting the Good Shepherd to do what is good and right in a person's life, especially with regards to their salvation. May we pray the prayer of faith with Job, who cried out to the Lord: 
“I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted."
~ Job 42:2

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