World-renowned pastor and evangelist Francis Chan says that after 30 years of praying for his best friend to find God, his prayer has finally been answered.
In a recent blog on his “Desiring God” website, Chan wrote about the efforts of Christians to convince people to come to Christ.
He said the difficulty in doing stems from the lost being blinded by darkness. He related that darkness to the same described by the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:3-6, as well as to an experience he once had in a cave.
“I remember the first time I climbed deep into a cave,” Chan recalled. “Until that day, I had no idea what ‘pitch dark’ really meant. I could hear the voice of my friend who was right next to me, but I couldn’t see him. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t even see my hand in front of my face.”
He continued, “Then my friend turned on his flashlight. Everything changed. Darkness was gone, and the cave was visible and beautiful. This is what the Apostle Paul describes in his letter. We all walk in complete spiritual darkness unless God decides to shine His light on us. In some mysterious way, God shines light in a person’s heart so that he instantly sees the beauty of the Gospel. No amount of human effort can produce this. Salvation is a miracle of God.”
Chan explained, “Many of us would say that we believe this theological truth, but our actions betray us, revealing just how much we trust in people, speeches, and events. On more than one occasion, people have begged me to speak to their lost friends, believing that my words would make the difference.”
“Too often, I have granted their wish (rather than correcting their theology) and tried desperately to come up with the perfect words to talk their friends into falling in love with Jesus. Do you see yet how ridiculous this is?” he asked.
“Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 4:4 that Satan has blinded these people,” explained the Christian author and pastor. “Apart from God’s working, our begging someone to see the beauty of Christ is as pointless as begging a blind man to enjoy the beauty of a sunset. Do we direct our begging, first and foremost, to God?”
Chan highlighted the story in Luke 18:1 about persistent prayer and how he never stopped praying for his friend’s salvation.
“My best friend in college decided that he didn’t want to follow Jesus. It broke my heart. Ken and I went our separate ways, and our lives went in opposite directions. I never stopped praying for him though — I couldn’t. Whenever Ken’s name would pop into my mind, prayer was my natural reflex,” he explained.
Finally, it appeared Chan’s 30-year-long petition on behalf of his friend had born fruit.
“Two years ago, I was speaking in Seattle where Ken lived,” he recounted. “I invited him to the event, so we could reconnect. We graduated from high school in 1985. After 30 years of prayer, God decided to shine His light on his heart. Suddenly, Jesus looked beautiful to him and he couldn’t believe that he didn’t see it all this time.”
“A few weeks later, Ken and his wife flew down to San Francisco, and I baptized them. I can’t express what a gift that was. He is one of the few people I have prayed for consistently for 30 years — a small price to pay to be with him for the next 30 million,” he concluded.
Chan encouraged believers to persevere in prayer, saying that “no soul is too far gone for God.”
“No heart is too hard for God to soften. No son or daughter is too lost for God to rescue. Keep praying for God to do what only He can,” said Chan.