7 Reasons We Must Not Give Up on Wayward or Unsaved Loved Ones

I heard another story this week of a believer who’s been praying a long time for a non-believing loved one or a prodigal son. I hear these stories enough that I hope this post is helpful to you as you (1) wait and pray, or (2) shepherd others who are waiting and praying. Maybe one of these reasons to keep believing will encourage you today:

1. God is still drawing people to Himself. As long as He chooses to do so, God will continue wooing people from every tribe, tongue, and nation (Rev 7:9). His Spirit is still at work convicting people of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8-11). It’s possible your loved one is next. 

2. It’s the enemy who wants you to give up. Satan wants to discourage you, enticing you to believe there remains no hope for your loved one. He wants you to stop believing, stop praying, stop trusting. Don’t give him that kind of power in your life.

3. God loves your loved one more than you do. Today I’m particularly praying for two people: my older sister and a young guy who is like a son to me. My love for them is deep, but God’s love is even deeper. That truth gives me hope. 

4. God’s calendar and clock are not the same as ours—but they are always right on time. What seems to us as a long time as we wait on God to answer our prayers is not long to our eternal God. His timing is always, always perfect—and we’ll forget about any perceived delay when He does indeed answer our long-term prayers.  

5. God sometimes takes His time responding to us because of what He wants to do in us. We’re focused on our loved one, but God’s focused on us, too. He might be teaching us patience, trust, faith, and perseverance—all that will make us even stronger witnesses for those we long to reach. 

6. God may well be working in your loved one, even though you don’t recognize it. Here’s the way I summarize this truth: when God is doing His work, He’s under NO obligation to let us in on the details. He’s God; we’re not—and our job is just to trust Him as we wait and watch on behalf of our loved ones.

7. Some of us can speak of God’s amazing grace in the lives of our loved ones. We prayed for my dad for 36 years before he turned to Christ at age 71. My mom later became a believer at age 79 after we had asked God for 47 years to save her. Those stories of God’s patience and faithfulness compel me to keep trusting and praying for my sister and my “son.” 

May I ask you to join me in saying a prayer for them today? Let us know how the Church Answers family might pray for you and your loved ones, too.

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Thom S. Rainer is the founder and CEO of Church Answers, an online community and resource for church leaders. Prior to founding Church Answers, Rainer served as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Before coming to LifeWay, he served at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for twelve years where he was the founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism. He is a 1977 graduate of the University of Alabama and earned his Master of Divinity and Ph.D. degrees from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.