Getting it wrong: “‘I’m an atheist,’ she replied. ‘There is no God.’”
Getting it right: “The basic reality of God is plain enough.”
On a Toyota trip to Africa I made an acquaintance with with a dealer I had not known. His wife was reading Bill O’Reilly’s book, Killing Jesus. I asked her how she liked the book. “He’s not a historian, and I don’t understand why he thinks he can write about this,” she responded. “I’m not going to bother to finish it,” she went on. “Besides, it’s all a myth.”
I replied, “It seems to me that it has been proven as historical fact that Jesus was a real person, and you can’t deny that he has had a significant impact on the world.”
“I’m an atheist,” she replied. “ There is no God.”
I asked her name and told her I would pray for her, but she shot back that she did not want me to pray for her.
Why should I pray for an atheist who does not want my prayers?
Jesus told us we are to love God and love one another. It seems to me that praying for non-religious family members, friends, or acquaintances even though they do not want my prayers is an act of love. My prayers are to ask God to reveal Himself to them through His son, Jesus, and be at work in their lives. It is not to prove that I am right, but rather that knowing God by knowing Jesus is the best possible thing that could happen to anyone.
I asked her to forgive me for praying for her, knowing that I must—because living a life without knowing God’s love seems so depressing and hopeless. I still pray for them today because I have experienced God’s love and want them to also experience that love and hope.
Romans 1:18-20 “But the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes can’t see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being. So nobody has a good excuse. What happened was this: People knew God perfectly well, but when they didn’t treat him like God, refusing to worship him, they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction in their lives. They pretended to know all, but were illiterate regarding life. They traded the glory of God who holds the whole world in his hands for cheap figurines you can buy at any roadside stand.” (MSG)