Last week my daughter lost her cell phone and I prayed that God would return it to her. My daughter does not acknowledge God, which suddenly threw a wrench into my praying: Is it right to ask God to do a “favor” for a person who shakes her fist at Him?
Today my next-door neighbor, who I almost never see, knocked on the door and unloaded major family problems at my kitchen table. She said she had come to me because of my faith. I assured her I would pray for her family, and then we held hands and prayed, though I am not at all sure of her relationship with God. Among the things I asked the Lord for were deliverance from drugs for a young woman who does not believe in Him, strength and perseverance for another woman who does not believe in Him, and wisdom for a young man who does not believe in Him.
Is that something I should be doing? Shouldn’t I be praying instead that my daughter become a Christian first? And shouldn’t I be praying that my neighbor’s family come to the Lord before I ask for deliverance from drug addiction or strength and perseverance? After all, if you pray for a rebellious person to have more strength and energy, aren’t you in effect asking for the very things that would enable them to be even more independent from God?
But then I thought of Luke 6:35: “… for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.” Of course, my first prayer for the unbeliever is that he or she would be saved. But on the basis of this statement of Jesus regarding the great love of the Father, I can also ask for His kindness in the life of the unbeliever, just for the sake of kindness. God’s kindness is meant to turn the person to Him, of course:
“… God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance” (Romans 2:4).
But He is also just kind and loving by nature, even when there is no movement toward repentance: “… he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.” It is hard to come up with more damning attributes than “ungrateful” and “evil,” and yet Jesus says that his Father is kind to even people like that. So we are aligned with God when we pray good things for bad people and should pray for all.