Questions Answered – Praying for Unbelievers

John Piper asks:

Now I would like to turn the question back to my questioner: If you insist that this man must have the power of ultimate self-determination, what is the point of praying for him? What do you want God to do for him? You can’t ask that God overcome the man’s rebellion, for rebellion is precisely what the man is now choosing, so that would mean God overcame his choice and took away his power of self-determination. But how can God save this man unless he act so as to change the man’s heart from hard hostility to tender trust?

Will you pray that God enlighten his mind so that he truly see the beauty of Christ and believe? If you pray this, you are in effect asking God no longer to leave the determination of the man’s will in his own power. You are asking God to do something within the man’s mind (or heart) so that he will surely see and believe. That is, you are conceding that the ultimate determination of the man’s decision to trust Christ is God’s, not merely his.

When people live and operate in a Calvinist mindset, often common sense is quickly discarded. All kinds of random non-sequiturs are assumed into reality and used as presuppositions in arguing against competing worldviews (worldviews that don’t buy into the presuppositions). Free Will theologians do not think people cannot be influenced or should not be influenced. In fact, many Free Will theologians actively proselytize. Asking God to do the same is not only good tactics, but common sense.

Convincing someone to think something is different than forcing them to think something. God, to convince King Nebuchadnezzar to become righteous, morphs Nebuchadnezzar into a kind of man-beast. This is all to nudge Nebuchadnezzar into becoming a more righteous person. This flies in the face of Calvinism, where God could have just predestined Nebuchadnezzar to be more righteous. Instead, man and God desperately act to change hearts and minds.

For that reason, the point of praying for God to assist in converting people is to get God to use His power to help proselytization being effective.

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