I agree 100% with you; we are not told anywhere in Scripture that at some point we should stop praying for the salvation of our unsaved loved ones. There may be times when we are unable to present the gospel to them due to their rejection of God’s Word, but we can still pray for their hearts to be softened so their hearts will be opened to listen to the gospel. I am always encouraged to pray for God to do that very special work of “opening up their hearts” based on what we read in Acts 16:15: “Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord OPENED HER HEART TO HEED THE THINGS SPOKEN BY PAUL” (NKJV). We know from the next verse that after she listened to the Apostle Paul present the gospel, she was saved: “And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.’ So she persuaded us” (verse 16). I imagine Paul was delighted to see the wonderful FRUIT that was being manifested by her reception of the gospel, for by being baptized she was willing to publicly “identify with Christ as her Lord and Savior” and by inviting Paul and others to stay at her house she was showing “love for the brethren,” which is the first and greatest among the “fruit of the Spirit” (see Galatians 5:22-23 and 1st John 3:14). So, as we pray for an unsaved love one to be saved, let’s ask God to “open their hearts” to respond to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Again, we should never cease praying, whether it is for unsaved loved ones, unsaved friends or acquaintances, or even fellow-believers who need our prayers. I’m sure you were thinking of 1st Thessalonians 5:17 in asking your question for it reads: “Pray without ceasing.” This means we should “always be ready to pray,” but it also means “we should continue praying for a need until that need is met.” So, until unsaved loved ones are saved, KEEP PRAYING FOR THEM!

Another verse that instructs us to keep praying is Colossians 4:2, “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving.” The words “earnestly” and “vigilant” speak of a real DEVOTION TO PRAYER and thus they encourage us to be “prayer warriors.” It’s also important to see that our prayers should be “with thanksgiving,” which means we should be “counting our blessings and giving thanks to God for them.” If we lose sight of God’s blessings, which includes the many prayers He’s already answered, we may very well lose sight of God’s ability to answer our prayers, which in turn will result in NOT PRAYING for our loved ones. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to have the “spirit of thanksgiving.” Prayer without thanksgiving will leave our own hearts cold. When this happens we may still “say our prayers,” but they will be “mechanical”; we’ll just be “going through the motions” instead of coming to God with real passion, dependency and faith in His ability to answer our prayers.

I should mention, in closing, that the verse that follows 1st Thessalonians 5:17 says, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” So, as you pray for your unsaved loved ones, remember to give thanks to God the Father “in everything.” What does that mean? In means that God is in control of every circumstance of our life; He means it for good (see Romans 8:28) and we should give thanks for it. We may grow weary of praying for unsaved loved ones when our prayers seem to go unanswered, but God is using these circumstances to test our faith and to produce patience in us. James 1:2-3 declare, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” God will, in due season, answer our prayers in His own good time and according to His own purposes in grace. Until then, “pray without ceasing.”  (415.1)  (DO)