by Erich Bridges
You've been sharing the gospel with your father for years, but he has yet to trust Jesus as Lord.
Your daughter says she believes in Christ, but she doesn't live for Him when others pressure her to live like the world.
The friend you faithfully taught and discipled seems to have abandoned his walk with God.
"Almost persuaded" goes the old hymn. "Almost persuaded now to believe, almost persuaded Christ to receive...."
Almost persuaded, like King Agrippa after listening to the Apostle Paul's powerful testimony (Acts 26:28). Almost persuaded to believe, to follow, to obey.
Almost-but not quite.
You continue to love and share and pray. One day, you hope, the people you care about so deeply will follow the Lord with all their hearts.
As you pray for the ones close to you, however, add a word for "Awwab," a Muslim-background follower of Jesus in South Asia. He served for more than a year on a Christian ministry team reaching out to other Muslims, but fell back into his old life of drugs and drug dealing. He wants to break free once and for all of the lies, the misery and the crime, but he needs to display true repentance. Pray that his hunger for God will outweigh all other desires, and that the team will know when and how to offer him a second chance.
Lift a prayer for "Maria," a 27-year-old mother of five who lives in a one-room wooden shanty on the Caribbean island nation of St. Lucia. She sells eggs and produce to feed her children, but it's not enough. She wants desperately to live for God, to sense His love and forgiveness, but her boyfriend threatens to cut off his minimal support for the children if she "gets religion" and stops letting him sleep with her. Maria represents many Lucian women caught between trusting in Christ and in tenuous relationships with others, between faith and fear. Pray that she will step out for Jesus-and lead others to follow.
"David," a house church member among the Zulus of South Africa, also feels caught, between his growing faith in Jesus and his wife, a "sangoma" or witchdoctor. She's angry about his involvement in the church. Pray that she will see beyond Satan's lies and embrace the truth of the gospel. Pray that David will remains steadfast in his commitment to Jesus and lead his wife to saving faith.
Intercede for "Jacob," a Jewish man in full religious dress who recently approached a female Christian worker on an ancient street in Jerusalem. She was amazed, since Orthodox Jewish men in Israel seldom speak to non-Jewish women. "I know you don't know me, but I have seen you for years here, and I know you are a believer in Yeshua (Jesus)," he quietly told her. Then he took something out of his wallet: the fish sign early followers of Jesus used to identify themselves and greet one another. He has been a believer for years. Jacob's late father followed Jesus, too, but he suffered harassment for his faith and saw his store burned down. So Jacob decided long ago to worship in secret to protect his family and livelihood. Pray that one day he will declare his faith openly and without fear.
"Zoya," a high-caste Hindu in urban India, has other reasons for hiding her interest in Jesus. She's a powerful businesswoman who spends most of her days taking calls on her mobile phone, meeting clients and supervising work in her manufacturing centers. She admits getting her greatest satisfaction from achieving success, making money and enjoying her many possessions. She also continues to perform traditional Hindu rituals and prayers. Recently, however, Zoya told a Christian friend that she was "praising God" after attending a worship time centered on Jesus. Pray that she will see that life is more than collecting things, that it is a relationship with the God who is beginning to reveal Himself to her.
Pray for the Muslim villagers in West Africa who recently prayed to receive Christ but now struggle with persecution and isolation. "I just can't leave" Islam, admits one village woman. "When the prayer call sounds, I just have to bow down, or I shake. No one will help us if we become believers in Jesus. We'll be all alone," a fate worse than death in her culture.
Pray for the three Palestinian Muslim students who were out "cruising" one recent Sunday and offered some Christian friends a ride to church. When they reached the church, the friends invited them in. Two of the students nervously accepted. Within minutes, they were singing and clapping along with the worship choruses and listening intently to a message about God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Now they're asking questions about "the three gods." Pray that they will comprehend the one God-and how much He wants to enter into a relationship with them.
Across the world, people are struggling to understand who God is, to give their lives to Him fully, to declare His love to their families and villages and cities. Their ultimate decisions will change history-their own and their cultures'-for eternity.
Almost persuaded. Lift them up, so that "almost" will become "yes." Completely persuaded.