I have found that where faith for the salvation of the lost is concerned, unbelief controls much of the church. Perhaps it’s because we’ve prayed and waited so long that we are no longer convinced God really will do it.
But if we don’t believe God will answer our prayers, we will not pray with consistency and diligence. We may sporadically ask Him, but we certainly will not persevere.
Acts 13:36 says that King David “served the purpose of God in his own generation” (NASB). Our purpose as a generation is to bring in the greatest harvest of souls the world has ever seen.
To accomplish that purpose, we must do some important and fulfilling work. Much of it involves strategic prayer to loose our loved ones from Satan’s grasp.
The Bible tells us, “The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor. 4:4).
There is a covering over the minds of unbelievers that keeps them from clearly seeing the light and truth of the gospel. Until unbelievers have an unveiling—a revelation—they won’t understand the gospel because the veil prevents them from comprehending it.
Satan’s goal is to hide the truth of the gospel in order to keep unbelievers in his grasp. How does he accomplish this?
The Greek word tuphloo, translated “blinded” in this verse, means, “to dull the intellect” (The Expanded Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, Bethany House Publishers). Satan has an ability to dull the unbeliever’s thinking where the gospel is concerned.
The root word of tuphloo, tupho, has the meaning of making smoke (The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible). Blindness in this passage can be compared to a smoke screen that clouds or darkens the air to the point that a person cannot see clearly.
From this same root comes the word tuphoo which refers to being high-minded, proud or inflated with self-conceit (Strong’s). The blindness of the unbeliever to the gospel is directly linked to the root of pride that Satan passed on to humankind in the Garden at the fall.
Pride causes unbelievers to think humanity’s knowledge is greater than God’s. This leads not to a knowledge dependent on God but to an independent knowledge that looks to one’s own mind and intellect as the judge of truth.
This quest for knowledge glorifies one’s own reasoning ability and rejects God’s knowledge. Because everything is filtered through this inward knowledge, all of which is inundated with pride, it usually translates into the exalting and serving of self and its desires.
Simply stated, self loves anything that satisfies and exalts self. Any message that preaches self-denial or that self needs to be saved is offensive.
The only answer to this self-god is death—the cross—where we die with Christ. The only problem is self wants so desperately to live.
The very nature of pride is to be self-serving and preserving. Thus, the very thing that needs to die is bent on living and must remain the enemy of God in order to do so.
Dealing Pride a Death Blow
Understanding this blinding ability of pride provides a tremendous clue to how to pray effectively for the lost. We must attack the root of pride!
Most rejection of Christ, whether from the works motivation of false religions or the simple fact that most people don’t want to give lordship of their lives to another, is due to the veil of pride.
This satanically initiated stronghold is the ultimate enemy of Christ and will be dealt with in finality when every knee bows and every tongue confesses that Christ is Lord. Pride will be dealt its final blow!
How do we deal with the vision-altering force of pride inflicted upon us by the serpent himself, Satan? The Bible identifies a solution for the pride problem and gives us key strategies for effectively praying for unbelievers.
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:3-5).
We will never win people to Christ on an intellectual basis or through innovative methods alone. Certainly, a continual barrage of nagging and harassing questions won’t bring them to the Lord.
In How to Pray for Your Family and Friends (Servant Publications), author Quin Sherrer wrote: “I’ve talked with many women who believed it was their responsibility to do everything in their power to ‘make’ their husbands become Christians, but by their manipulative scheming, they only succeeded in turning their husbands away from any interest in spiritual matters. As many wives have learned the hard way, only the Holy Spirit can reveal to an individual the truth of who Jesus is” (see John 16:8-13).
Sometimes we can talk people into a salvation prayer without a true revelation (unveiling), but there is usually no real change because there is no true repentance, which comes only from biblical revelation.
When we approach people on a human basis, especially if they feel we are pressuring them, we generally make things worse. The root of pride in them rises up and defends itself. If we attack this pride on a human level, we will only strengthen it.
But we do have weapons that are “divinely powerful.” These weapons, empowered by God, will work miracles.