Pray without ceasing

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Prayer is one of those things I struggle with.  I didn't grow up in a home that loved God, I didn't come to have a relationship with Him until I was an adult.  I don't have a problem talking with Him about things: "watch over us and keep us safe while we travel to_________," "guide me today to make the decisions that will honor You," "help me to control my words today so that they are a blessing to others and not a tool for the devil," etc.  I have the day to day conversations and I love that I can approach Him intimately like this. (Ephesians 3:12, Hebrews 4:16)

Recently my small group Bible study began a prolonged group prayer.  God laid it on our hearts to join together and set aside a day every week to intentionally pray for our family and friends who don't have a relationship with Jesus.  That isn't to say that we haven't been praying for our own family members often, but we are trusting God when he says that when two or more of us agree on something it will be done by our Father. (Matthew 18:19)  While we realize that God will not take away the free will of those we are praying for and force them to surrender to Him, we also realize that our prayers can open doors, protect them from the devil's deceit, and soften their hearts to accept God's gift of salvation...but this can sometimes be a long process.  This is where I struggle.

Intellectually I realize that God hears and answers prayer. (Psalm 65:2, Proverbs 15:29, Psalm 66:19-20, Mark 11:24, Matthew 21:22) But emotionally there are times that I question and doubt.  I love my family members, and I want them to feel the overwhelming love that God has for them; I want them to understand the acceptance and comfort and joy that comes from a relationship with Him - and I want it NOW.  We have been praying for months.  I wish I had a dramatic story for you about how one of the people we prayed for had a revelation and heart change, I don't.  That disheartens me sometimes.  But God is good and I know that He hears and is doing His part.

We have seen some of our loved ones step closer to God.  We have seen Him reveal Himself in miraculous ways, especially AFTER being challenged ("The only way this will work is if God does it!").  We have seen His hand of protection.  I know that He is orchestrating things in such a way that the hearts of those we love are being touched by His loving kindness.  So, while I may struggle with His timing, I continue to pray without ceasing.  After all, Augustine's mother prayed for him to know God for 32 years before he finally accepted Jesus' gift.  And Augustine went on to spend the next 44 years of his life in service, becoming one of the most influential writers concerning God since the apostles.  Who knows what God has in store for those we are praying for now!