By Kenneth E. Hagin
During my years in ministry, one of the questions most frequently asked of me is about how to get unsaved loved ones saved. This is my advice based on God’s Word.
First, realize that the Father draws people through the Holy Spirit. When the Word of God is preached, the Holy Spirit brings conviction upon people through the Word.
Jesus said, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:44).
Second, pray that God will send someone across your unsaved loved one’s path. Jesus said in Matthew 9:38, “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.” We will discuss this more later.
I don’t believe, however, that there are any rules you can establish in soul-winning that will work for everyone. God might lead one person one way and another person another way. We always must bear in mind the vital work of the Holy Spirit in drawing people to Christ.
Sometimes the members of your family are the most difficult people for you to deal with. Very often, they won’t listen to you. Generally speaking, it is better for you not to try to deal with them. Now don’t misunderstand me—sometimes the Spirit of God may lead you differently. I’m just laying down some general guidelines here.
How My Family Was Won
I was a teenager when I was born again. Some of my family were what we call nominal Christians. They knew Jesus was their Savior, but they didn’t know much beyond that. Concerning my unsaved family members—and that included other relatives such as aunts, uncles, and cousins—I was led by the Spirit of God to never mention anything to them about salvation. One way the Holy Spirit leads us is by an inward witness or inward conviction. I had the conviction in my spirit that if my relatives saw the reality of Jesus Christ in my life, they all would want it. (That’s true in the natural realm too. If you know that someone has a good recipe, for example, you want it.)
According to the Word of God, “Bodily exercise profiteth little: but GODLINESS IS PROFITABLE unto all things . . .” (1 Tim. 4:8). “Profitable” means that it pays off. Paul continued in verse 15: “Meditate upon these things . . . that thy PROFITING may appear to all.”
I never said one thing about the Lord to any of my near relatives, and I never asked any of them to be saved. I started preaching as a 17-year-old boy, but I never asked them to come hear me preach. They came, but I never asked them. I never said one word to any of them about salvation. I was led not to. I knew in my spirit that I shouldn’t.
If you nag your unsaved family, they won’t like being around you. Before I was saved and began to preach, my family never prayed at the table, but afterward they always asked me to say grace. I never said anything else to them. However, through the years, every one of them got born again!
I have noticed that the two most common mistakes people make in dealing with their families are these: (1) they try to be ultra-spiritual and (2) they overdo witnessing.
Yes, the Bible teaches witnessing, but remember the old proverb, “Actions speak louder than words.” That means that what you do speaks so loudly, people very often can’t hear what you say. This is especially true when what you’re doing doesn’t line up with what you’re saying. In other words, people who do a lot of talking may not have enough “living” to back up their witness.
I just let my life witness to my unsaved loved ones, and they saw something in my life that they wanted. I think that’s the greatest witness, actually. Your life can influence your spouse, children, and other kinfolks.
Even though I did not witness to my relatives, I did pray for them through the years. I prayed for one relative in particular, who was going through some severe tests over his family.
One day I was in my hometown on some business and thought I saw a familiar figure walking down the street. This person’s gait reminded me of that particular relative. As I pulled my car alongside the man, however, I decided it was the wrong person, and I drove on by.
After I had gone several blocks, it suddenly hit me: Momma had said this relative had lost about 50 pounds and that I wouldn’t even recognize him anymore. I hadn’t; he looked so haggard.
I quickly said out loud, “Dear God, save So-and-so.”
A voice in the backseat of the car said, “Well, that’s what I’m trying to do.” It was so clear, I looked around to see if someone had hidden back there! Then I knew something instantly: I was wasting my time praying such a prayer for that person’s salvation, because God had been trying to save him all of this man’s life.
Pray for Laborers
A scripture flashed across my mind. Jesus said in Matthew 9:38, “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.”
I pulled over to the side of the road and stopped the car. I bowed my head and prayed, “Dear Lord, I know it wouldn’t do much good if I went and talked to this man, because I know he wouldn’t listen to me. But there must be someone he will listen to. I don’t know who that person is, but You do. Send someone across his path to witness to him.”
Fifteen years of praying “God save So-and-so” hadn’t worked. I prayed that one time for God to send a laborer across his path, and within two weeks’ time, someone had crossed his path, prayed with him, and influenced him. Momma told me he bought a Bible and started going to church.
After I had that unusual experience, I started examining the Scriptures. In the church circles I was in then, we always prayed, “God, save the lost. God, save the lost. God, save the lost.” But I couldn’t find anywhere in the Bible where it said, “Pray that God will save sinners.”
Instead, I found where Jesus said, “Pray ye . . . the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.” The harvest is there just waiting to be harvested! We simply need laborers to reap that harvest.
There is someone who can talk to your relatives when you can’t. You need to realize that.
The Role of Prayer
However, believing for a laborer to cross your unsaved loved one’s path isn’t the only way to get him or her saved. You need to listen to your spirit for instructions on how to reach that person. Something will work for you. One thing you can do is intercede on their behalf.
Often when we pray for unsaved loved ones, we cry or just pray in the Spirit. We’re more or less trying to do it ourselves in the flesh. We’re trying to make God do something; we’re trying to force something to come to pass.
Actually, what we need to do is study the Word and depend upon and trust in the Spirit of God to cause our loved ones to experience salvation. We need to put the Word first. No prayer life is going to be successful if it’s not based on the Word of God.
Realize that getting the answer may depend upon you. The manifestation can come faster if the Word of God is strongly rooted in you. The Bible says, “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). In other words, your faith is stronger if you have a lot of the Word in you.
That’s the reason I don’t pray about some things for several days until I have examined the Word carefully on the subject. (Emergencies are different.) If the situation has been there for years and hasn’t changed, it’s still going to be there in a few days, and you’ve got time to study what the Word has to say about it. Keep examining it. Keep meditating upon it.
Sometimes I have gone for days meditating on just one thing. After three or four days, I’ve found that faith is so strong in me that I couldn’t doubt if I wanted to; the Word had built something into me.
Jesus said in John 15:7, “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” You see, it’s after the Word of God gets into you that you’re able to pray effectively.
Because the Spirit of God—not us—knows who can be touched, He may lead you to intercede for people you barely know instead of for your unsaved loved ones or friends. In praying this way, after a certain period of time, you will find that the burden of prayer will be lifted, and a spirit of lightness will prevail. Sometimes people begin to laugh. Many times I have laughed or sung in the Spirit. Why? When the burden lifts, that means the answer is assured, even though it hasn’t been manifested yet.
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