Don't Pray For People To Go To Church, Pray That God Will Change Their Hearts
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Don't pray for them to go to church - pray for a heart change. Church alone does not define salvation. Church may be a start to salvation, sure, but the institution of the church will never save a person. Take it from the girl who spent 11 years in the church before something really clicked in my heart.

From the time I was a newborn, I was in the church. When I was an infant, my parents publicly dedicated me to the Lord. As faithful servants to God, they sent me to a private Christian school where every single morning started with prayer, praise, and the pledge of allegiance to the Christian flag. At age 10, I was baptized. I said I believed in Jesus, but I only did on the surface. I believed in the story of Jesus, but I never truly accepted it down in my soul.

Sadly, I've heard plenty of stories like this, and I personally know some people who have experienced the same situation I did: growing up Christian, knowing all the commandments and John 3:16 by heart, claiming to believe, but lacking a personal relationship with Jesus. So what changed?

For me, it was the summer of 2011 as I sat on the steps with my counselor at a Christian camp after a spiritually charged camp-wide bonfire night. It was my second week there. The previous week, I'd stood up in front of all the kids and shared my testimony - a testimony I knew was fake. All the kids stood up and clapped for me, but deep down, I knew they were cheering for a lie. So after the bonfire, when so many of the girls in my cabin were inside crying and sharing how their lives had been changed, I felt something stir inside me. My counselor took me outside on that muggy July night, and I told her about my life. Then she explained the Gospel to me in terms that related to my situation. It was a story I knew and had heard thousands of times before, but for the first time, I was actually listening.

It wasn't church that saved me. It wasn't going to a Christian school, or memorizing Bible verses, or going to Sunday school. It wasn't being baptized, or going to multiple Vacation Bible Schools every summer, or praying for trivial things. It wasn't even the Sinner's Prayer that I had said emptily so many times that saved me. It was a deep cry from the depths of my soul exclaiming, "Father, save me."

So don't pray for the person to go to church. Church will never do anything for a person without the hand of God; without Jesus, it's just a building. Pray for a heart change in the person. People are going to continue living as they always have as long as they think they're right. So pray for the Holy Spirit to come into their lives and open their hearts. Reach out to them and yes, invite them to church, but know that church alone won't be their salvation. Know that God intervening in their lives when they're ready to listen is what will be their salvation. Pray for their heart. Pray for their soul. Pray that they will open their eyes and see the glory of God, that they might accept Jesus as their Savior...and then pray for them to go to church.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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