At a recent mid-week service, I asked God for guidance in praying for and witnessing to unbelievers. I wrote an article on this topic (“Praying for the Lost”) two years ago, but I wanted more guidance, since I cannot find a single salvation prayer by a believer for an unbeliever in the Bible. All I find are imprecatory prayers instead. God graciously answered my request through a 150-year-old devotional book on the Apostle John and his pupils. Ignatius (c.35-c.108) – Apostolic Father, bishop of Antioch, and student of the apostle John – wrote the following advice in a letter to the Ephesians after his arrest by Roman authorities.
Pray ye without ceasing on behalf of other men, for there is hope of repentance for them that they may attain to God. See then that they be taught by your works, if not otherwise. Be meekness your reply to their wrath, lowliness to their boasting, prayers to their blasphemies; in contrast to their error, be ye stedfast in the faith, and oppose your gentleness to their cruelty. While we take care not to imitate their actions, let us be found their brethren in true kindness, and let us seek to be followers of the Lord … that so no plant of the devil may be found in you; but ye remain in all holiness and sobriety in Jesus Christ, both with respect to the flesh and the spirit.
Constant prayer, meekness, lowliness, faithfulness, gentleness, kindness, holiness, and sobriety – I have much to do! I pray that God teaches me to “walk in wisdom” (Colossians 4:5).