Have you prayed for someone for years to trust Christ as Savior, and that person hasn’t been saved? Whatever you do, don’t give up! Keep praying, no matter how long it takes!
I’m sure many in the early church never thought a man named Saul would be saved. When Steven was stoned to death for preaching the gospel of Christ, there are a couple of interesting things to take note of. First one man in the crowd who agreed with the plan to kill him was a young man named Saul. Second, the dying words of Stephen were to pray for forgiveness of those who killed him, which would have included Saul, and for the Lord to receive his spirit. I don’t know of any other verses that showed believers praying for Saul, who later was known as Paul, but I’m sure they did.
Acts 7: 57-60: Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
Before he was saved, Saul continued to persecute the church. I’m sure a lot of believers might have thought he would never be saved. Notice Acts 8:1 shows Paul agreed with the plan to stone Stephen.
Acts 8:1-3: And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.
Acts 9:1-2: And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.
Take note that after Saul was saved and was known as Paul, the English name for the Hebrew Saul, He taught that Jesus Christ was the Son of God and died for the sins of the world and rose again to save those who trust Him in the Jewish synagogues. He taught Gentiles. He shared his faith before a king. He was stoned for his faith, with God miraculously sparing his life; he was beaten multiple times for preaching the gospel. He was shipwrecked and sometimes suffered hunger. God used him to write numerous books of the New Testament, and he was finally beheaded for his faith.
I’m sure Paul was glad believers prayed for him, and his letters are full of teachings that showed he prayed for those in the church.
Now for a personal story of something I experienced from a ministry I have been involved in. In February, I went with others with the Bill Glass prison ministry to share the gospel with prisoners in a jail in Dayton. One of the speakers there preaching the gospel, had once been in a variety of well-known prisons in a number of states, including San Quentin and others for a variety of crimes he had committed. He had been involved in substance abuse involving drugs, I’m sure, and I think alcohol too.
He had once pretended to receive Christ as Savior, but his heart was not at all in it. He just wanted the attention of a lady, he later married. His life showed he wasn’t sincere.
Eventually, he stole something from an elderly lady. Under the “Three Strikes Law” in California, he faced more than 100 years in prison for that charge, if convicted. It so happened, however, that elderly lady was a believer. She became convinced God was going to save that man, and she dropped her charge.
As a result, he only faced only three or four more years in prison. One day in prison would seem like an eternity to me, but not that man, he was used to it! He was saved, and when he got out, he began to preach the gospel wherever he had the chance.
I’m sure that man who now preaches the gospel was glad someone prayed for him. Brethren, let’s continue to pray for those we care for!