If you have an unconverted son, daughter or loved one you have been praying for, you are bearing one of the heaviest burdens of life. My wife, Connie, and I had a daughter who was not serving the Lord for ten years and it really weighed heavily upon our hearts.
One of the greatest verses in Scripture for parents with unsaved children is found in the writings of the prophet Isaiah: “Who can snatch the prey from the hands of a mighty man? Who can demand that a tyrant let his captive go? But the Lord says, ‘Even the captives of the most mighty and most terrible shall all be freed; for I will fight those who fight you, and I will save your children” (Isaiah 49:24 & 25, TLB).
Thank God! This promise assures you that God will save your children, if you’ll hold on and claim them for Christ. The Bible also says, “He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge” (Proverbs 14:26, NIV). This verse implies there will come a time when your children will need protection from calamity or trouble; they will need a fortress-and will flee to yours.
When our daughter forsook the Lord and our family, it was a terrible shock. Connie and I couldn’t believe it was happening to us. For all those many years we had served the Lord and expected our children to do the same. Most shocking of all, our daughter backslid while attending Bible College. God did work some good in our lives from this situation, however. He gave us a great burden to see young people won to the Lord. From that time on, we promised God we would do our best to reach as many young people as possible.
In the beginning, Connie and I were very bitter about our daughter’s departure from the faith. But we soon began to realize that human nature is unpredictable. One day, when I had reached rock bottom–when I felt like a total failure and was considering leaving the ministry– the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and said, “Lowell, what did God do wrong that the devil went bad?”
This jarred me and helped me understand God’s dilemma with creation. As long as the Lord has given Lucifer free will, as He has all angels and humans, there is a chance they would use their will against Him. Even though God had done nothing wrong, the devil went bad.
Guilt and regrets can often overwhelm a person. You find yourself saying, “Oh, if I had only done this or that. Why didn’t I see what was happening? Why was I so foolish?” If you continue to condemn yourself, you’ll destroy your own faith in God and then you won’t be able to help anyone. One lady wrote me and said, “Lowell, you must allow your daughter to be responsible for herself. If you assume the blame for her sins, you are robbing her of her own individuality.” This new insight really helped because I hadn’t looked at it this way before.
I love this quote and hung it above our bed in the tour bus: “God gives us liberty to choose against Him and then waits for us to come to our senses.”
Parents must do the same with their children. You must give your child liberty to choose against you the same as God does.
But, don’t give up. God hasn’t and you shouldn’t either.
One thing I did during those years that our daughter ran from the Lord was to mark every scripture I found in the Bible that assured me of her return. Each time I found a verse that was meaningful or that promised me God would save her, I’d underline it and write our daughter’s name beside it. I found literally hundreds of scriptures!
God will act. In the meantime, He tells us to praise Him for His promises. “Blessed be the Lord, that hath given rest unto his people Israel, according to all that He promised: there hath not failed one word of all His good promise” (1 Kings 8:56).
Here’s a great promise of God from Proverbs 20:7 NIV: “The righteous man leads a blameless life; blessed are his children after him.” You can be very sure God will rescue the children of the godly. One man, who was claiming his family for Christ, received strength from this passage in Exodus 10:26 where God promised Moses,”Not an hoof shall be left behind.” This refers to the deliverance of the Jews out of Egypt. When he read this, the Holy Spirit assured him, “Not one hoof shall be left behind. Every one of your children will be saved.”
Here’s another favorite promise from God, “They went right on sinning, doing everything their evil hearts desired. I have seen what they do, but I will heal them anyway” (Isaiah 57:17 TLB).
Glory to God! Isn’t it wonderful that God is going to have mercy upon your loved ones-and He will bring them to repentance, even though, at this moment they are not seeking Him.
One day I was complaining to the Lord about our daughter’s lack of interest in salvation and I said, “Now Lord, if it was one of your children who was lost, I’d really work to save your child. Why aren’t’ you saving mine?” Then I reminded Him of how I’d spent many years winning thousands of people to him.
Later in the day, I ran across this verse in Psalm 18:25, “With the merciful thou wilt show thyself merciful; with an upright man thou wilt show thyself upright.” This scripture assured me that God would deal honorably with my children as I have with His. He would answer our prayers and save our daughter.
One of the great struggles I’ve had with prayer is wondering why God doesn’t act more deliberately. Why doesn’t God get a hold of people and shake them so they’ll get converted right away? Why doesn’t God save your loved ones now? Why the delay?
This reminds me of the story of a man who prayed for patience. He knelt by his bedside and said, “Lord, last night I prayed for patience, what’s the hold-up?”
From studying the Bible I’ve found that God deals with unconverted loved ones in several ways:
If you’ll read the book of Judges, you’ll see that whenever His people rebelled and went wrong, He would deliver them into the hands of their enemies. The Bible says in Judges Chapter 13, “And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD delivered them into the hand of the Philistines forty years” (verse 1).
This is what happened to Jonah, the prophet, who tried to run away from God. Pardon the pun, but he ran into a “whale of a problem”-then he repented and cried out to God. The Bible says, “Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God, out of the fish’s belly, And said, ‘I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and He heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou hearest my voice” (Jonah 2:1-2).
My prayer was simply this, “Lord, get in there and bring judgment down upon my daughter-cause her to cry out to you.” But several portions of scripture revealed that it’s not all that easy. Actually, God cannot force anyone to get converted. The prophet Isaiah expresses God frustrations in these words, “Oh, my people, haven’t’ you had enough punishment? Will you force me to whip you again and again? Must you forever rebel? From head to foot you are sick and weak and faint, covered with bruises and welts and infected wounds, unanointed and unbound. Your country lies in ruins; your cities are burned; while you watch, foreigners are destroying and plundering everything they see. You stand there helpless and abandoned like a watchman’s shanty in the field when harvest time is over–or when the crop is stripped and robbed” (Isaiah 1:5-8, TLB).
So God is saying, “How much beating must I give you? How many things must go wrong before you will repent? You are like an empty abandoned shack.” I saw through this how force doesn’t always win a rebel to Christ.
The Prophet Amos picks up the same theme: “I sent you hunger” says the Lord, ‘but it did you no good; you still would not return to me. I ruined your crops by holding back the rain three months before the harvest. I sent rain on one city, but not another. While rain fell on one field another was dry and withered. People from two or three cities would make their weary journey for a drink of water to a city that had rain, but there wasn’t ever enough. Yet you wouldn’t return to me,’ says the Lord. ‘I sent blight and mildew on your farms and your vineyards: the locusts ate your figs and olive trees. And still you wouldn’t return to me,’ says the Lord, ‘I sent you plagues like those of Egypt long ago. I killed your lads in war and drove away your horses. The stench of death was terrible to smell. And yet you refused to come. I destroyed some of your cities, as I did Sodom and Gomorrah; those left are like half-burned firebrands snatched away from fire. And still you won’t return to me,’ says the Lord” (Amos 4:6-11, TLB).
I saw from reading these passages that it’s not as easy for God to convert people as I had thought. Punishment doesn’t always produce repentance. God had gone so far with the rebels of Israel. In Amos’ day, there was only one step left-destruction. But once God destroys a sinner, it’s too late to save him.
The prophet Zechariah reveals the heart of God in his prophecy of mercy:”Then I will pour out the spirit of grace and prayer on all the people of Jerusalem, and they will look on him, they pierced, and mourn for him as for an only son, and grieve bitterly for him as for an oldest child who died”(Chapter 12:10&11TLB).
In the future, God is going to bring Israel to repentance by pouring out a spirit of grace and prayer upon them. This is why you and I need to pray. The Bible says, “The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil” (1 Peter 3:12).
If you want to claim your loved ones for Christ, you must lock in on the promise of God and pray until God moves by punishment, patience or mercy-often He will move by all three at once.
Here is a verse of scripture that speaks to me, “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord”(James 1:6 & 7, KJV).
You and I cannot waver in our faith that God will save our loved ones. We must seize the scriptures, pray and look to God in faith-not wavering.
Connie and I praise God that He is faithful. After 10 years our daughter came back in 1991 and is now reunited with God and our family. I came to realize that the salvation of our daughter was as great a miracle as the resurrection of Lazarus from the dead. But Jesus is the resurrection and the life and I believed He would save her, no matter what appeared to be happening in her life. So Connie and I continued to claim for her all the scriptures in the Bible. We continued to pray and to trust God for His promise to save her.
As you dwell in the Scriptures and the spirit of prayer, your faith will grow and you will discover the Holy Spirit will move upon you to intercede for your loved ones.”Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26 & 27).
As the Holy Spirit helps you pray, you will feel groaning that are so deep you will feel at times like you are going to die. But don’t be afraid of crying out in this manner.
Also, there will be times when you will not feel any burden at all to pray. This puzzled me at first, but then I realized that just as a pregnant woman giving birth to a child has muscle spasms, just as her womb contracts and relaxes, so God is helping you, through prayer, to give birth to a loved one. God also knows if He didn’t give you some release, you would die.
I believe God is going to save your loved ones. But you must claim the promises of God on his or her behalf. Saturate your mind and soul with His Word until it stabilizes your faith. God will not fail you!
Let us pray:
Our Father in heaven, we believe your promises to save our loved ones. You are working now in many ways we cannot see. We claim your promises on behalf of our family for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Article by Lowell Lundstrom
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