How many of us live with unbelievers and struggle to know how to pray prayers that work for them? Many of us have a problem because we are too close to the situation. It’s hard to pray rationally when you love people so much and you are desperately concerned about their spiritual well-being. Maybe you have done your best to lead them to Christ over the years, and everything you have said has fallen on deaf (or worse, indifferent) ears. You may even have given up talking about it at all.
Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, is quoted as saying, “People may resist our advice, spurn our appeals, reject our suggestions, and not accept our help, but they are helpless against our prayers.” I believe that with all my heart. God took the Old Testament prophet Elijah from a safe spiritual environment, put him in the middle of what was very likely a Baal-worshipping family, and said, “Let’s see what this hot spot will do not only for your relationship with me but your relationship with your family. Undoubtedly it will do great things for your prayer life for unbelievers!” God wanted Elijah to know that he possessed a secret weapon, the secret weapon of prayer. Prayer is our secret weapon in these situations. Remember what James said about fervent prayer: He said it was dynamic in its working. Prayer is in fact, dynamite. In his book, Prayer, Ole Hallesby said, “The work of the Sprit can be compared to mining. The Spirit’s work is to blast to pieces the sinner’s hardness of heart and frivolous opposition to God. The period of the wakening can be likened to the time when the blasts are fired to the time when the deep holes are being bored with great effort into the hard rock. To bore these holes is hard and difficult and a task which tries one’s patience.”
This is a pretty graphic picture. The idea of prayer boring holes into hard hearts so the dynamite of the Spirit can be buried there helps me realize two things. First, my job is to do the boring. Second, it’s God’s job to blast away the hardness of people’s hearts. The problem is that it’s boring to do the boring! But it must be done.
I imagine that, day after boring day, Elijah did the work of prayer, having faith as he did his part, God would do His. Mining can be tiring, but the results can be spectacular. Before long, Elijah would learn never to underestimate what the Holy Spirit had been doing before he arrived on the scene.
When God looks into the hearts of men and women and sees a heart looking for Him, He makes sure one of His servants is sent to help them find Him. This should cause us to get up each and every morning of our lives and go out into our day with a huge sense of expectation. We can be assured that someone, somewhere has been “mining” and that the Holy Spirit has been at work in the circumstances in order to bring the seeking soul and the servant of the Lord together. How can life be anything but exhilarating for the disciple of Jesus! So in this matter of prayer, we must never discount what the Holy Spirit has been doing before we arrive on the scene. He will use our “boring” work for His eternal purposes!
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