I’ve known of, seen and heard a lot of stories of ministers refusing to pray for someone’s relatives because they were not one of “God’s people” – i.e., the pastor felt they were still living in their sins, or didn’t attend with that pastor’s church, or maybe had quit tithing to the pastors in question.
I’ve even seen this question posed on chat rooms, Facebook and other media.
I say if someone asks for prayers for anything, we pray. Let God do the judging. He’s a great judge. He’s very good at it. We’re not good at reading people’s hearts or minds – so neither can we judge whether they are “worthy” to receive your prayers. I repeat: we’re not. It’s not our job. It’s his job.
Why would anyone think we can hold off prayers for people who don’t attend with us? So let me share a few reminders:
--- Yeshua (Jesus) told us we SHOULD pray for those folks. Remember his admonitions at the end of Matthew 5:44 – to pray for those spitefully use you and persecute you? They’re hardly “converted” children of God!
--- EVERY single person Yeshua healed was a person without the spirit of God. We are to be followers of Yeshua, right? He didn’t go around asking which synagogue they attended or if they attended regularly or if they were tithing or if … anything. He sometimes might have asked if they believed… and that was it!
---Elisha was involved in the healing for Naaman the Syrian, an enemy of Israel. Even after the healing took place, Naaman asked to be excused while he helped his king in the pagan temple! Are we better than Elisha and his judgments on this? The story is in 2 Kings 5.
---Paul healed all the sick who came to him from the then-pagan island of Malta. Read the passage for yourself. First they thought he was a god because a poisonous snake had bitten him without repercussions or effects.
“And it happened that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and dysentery. Paul went in to him and prayed, and he laid his hands on him and healed him. 9 So when this was done, the rest of those on the island who had diseases also came and were healed.”
---JOB’s life was restored beautifully – but only after he prayed for his friends (Job 42:7-10).
---SARAH’S womb was opened by Yah and she was allowed to have a child only after Abraham prayed for Abimelech and his harem and wives whom God had made barren because Abimelech had taken Sarah (after Abraham and Sarah had half-lied about being brother-and-sister). Read the whole account in Genesis 20 and 21. And notice that Genesis 21 comes after Abraham prayed for all those “unconverted” people in Genesis 20:14-18; Gen 21:1-4.
I could go on and on and on. But why do we sometimes feel “holier than thou” and refuse to appeal to God for the healing of people who also were made in His image and likeness?
Pray for one another. Let God do the judging.
Oh yes, I’m aware of Jesus saying in John 17 that “I pray not for the world”. True, at that moment, his focus was on the disciples. But surely he prayed for the world, did he not, when he said from the crucifixion tree, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”.
And I’m aware of some verses in Jeremiah where God told him not to pray for those people at that time. I have a sermon on this you may wish to look up. But remember, Nehemiah prayed for the nation of Judah. So did Daniel – including a deep prayer of repentance for the nation where he included himself. See Daniel 9. Moses certainly prayed for sinful Israel to be pardoned when God was ready to wipe them all out after the gold calf incident.
So please folks, let’s just pray – and let God decide what to do with your prayer. There’s so much more that can be said about this. Don’t limit your intercessory prayers for just people who are full of God’s spirit. And you’ll be blessed as you pray for anyone and everyone. God bless you.
And if your minister won’t pray for someone in your family or neighborhood – contact me. I’ll be glad to. Yeshua’s the healer anyway; it’s not us. Have a great sabbath and weekend.