If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that you should pray about that. 1 John 5, verse 16.
This one is tough, both for deciphering what it means, as well as an application of it that I learned about just today.
You see, all sin leads to death. After reading multiple translations, the verse says we should pray for our brothers and sisters. Some things we do cause the physical action of death. While those are definitely important, they aren’t specifically what the verse is alluding to. Instead, the verse is saying we should pray for believers and not-yet-believers alike because all sin can cause death: spiritual death. The ultimate penalty for our wrongdoing is eternal separation from God, from Jesus’ love, and that’s true death.
Which brings me to point number two. How do you pray for someone who you know hasn’t accepted Jesus? A friend of mine has a family member who is dying. My friend says this person hasn’t ever accepted Christ. Death is coming, and very soon. Death comes for unbelievers and believers in the same way. While only God can judge someone’s heart, death comes to all of us because we are inheritors of sin. Yet you and I know people who reject this, good people who live good lives doing their best, but who reject Jesus. There are many reasons why they do this. In the end, it doesn’t matter why someone rejects Christ: it only matters that they did.
Romans 3:23 says it: “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” All of us, even the people we love who have lived good lives but never said “I believe in Jesus.” Yet don’t forget verse 24, which immediately reminds us that “all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
What do we pray for when a loved one is dying but they haven’t accepted Jesus? We pray for Jesus’ mercy, comfort, and car. We pray for the promise of His hope. We pray that our loved one will use the last moments of their life to realize their need for Jesus and accept what He does. We love them the same was we always have, and let the love of Jesus show through. We listen and care and help. Finally, we remember yesterday’s verse, which said, “and if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” We KNOW that the hope of Jesus can extend to everyone, no matter where they find themselves in life.
Lord, I believe in you and ask you to hold me close. Help me to love others and be Your comfort to them.