Prayer and Care for Young Converts
by the Rev. Samuel G. Craig
[The Presbyterian 99.44 (31 October 1929): 3-4.]
THERE should be much intercessory prayer, or prayer for others. Those who are Christians should pray for all classes and conditions of men. They should pray for the heathen, that they may be evangelized; for the wicked and criminal, that they may be led to turn from the evil of their ways; for the unconverted, that they may be turned to know and accept Christ as their Saviour; for the sick, that they may have the healing grace of God; for the sorrowing, that they may be comforted; for the aged, that they may have the sense of God’s presence; for the children and the young people, that they may become the true children of God.
But it occurred to Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, that he ought to pray for Christian people. He tells the converted followers of Christ at Colossae that he had been praying for them always since he “heard of their faith in Christ Jesus and their love to all the saints.” It would seem to some persons that these Christian people did not need to be prayed for, since they had given their hearts to Christ and were living so consistently and truly. It would seem that prayers had been answered for them since they had been brought into the kingdom and were obviously among the saved.
But Paul thought differently. He was not ready to take their names off his praying list. He was intending to go on praying for them. He told them that he was praying for them, and he told them what it was that he was praying for in their behalf. He said he was asking that they might “walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God, strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and long-suffering with joyfulness.” This was a beautiful program. It was a rich and abundant budget of blessing. With a heart of love for them, and desiring that they might become greatly useful in Christ’s service, he prayed for them that they might go on from grace to grace, and from strength to strength.
It is not enough that souls shall be converted. That is the very point, at which arriving, they should go on increasing in Christian knowledge and Christian usefulness.
It is not enough that a human babe should be born. It is at the time of birth a most helpless and dependent being. It must be nourished and nurtured, for weeks and months and years, before it can walk and talk, and be capable of physical support, and it must be instructed intellectually and morally, if it comes to its full estate. So, in a corresponding manner, must one who is born again, a spiritual babe in Christ, be nurtured and cared for, strengthened and instructed, if it comes into the useful and capable life to which God’s children should attain.
It is then most important that those who have just been converted shall have the most loving and nurturing care of Christian friends, who will pray for and with them, and help to lead them into the strong and Spirit-filled and well-informed life which Paul prayed might be the portion of the Colossian Christians.
It seems sadly evident, from the large number of members of our churches, placed, every year, on the awful retired, suspended rolls, that in some way there failed to be the proper, prayerful care for many who have been added to the church. A time which we call a “revival time” is often an occasion of great joy to Christian people, when they see many of those for whom they have been solicitous added to the membership of the church on confession of faith. It seems to these friends that prayers have been answered. They cease to watch and pray for these young converts. They take their names from their prayer lists. They cease to be intercessory for them. They do not continue to pray for them.
But the world does not cease its sinful attractions. The remnants of the sinful nature in the hearts of those young converts do not at once die out. These young Christians need to be cared for, trained, watched over, set to work, and, especially, to be prayed for with all loving zeal.
We have often thought that this Book of Colossians might well be the text-book in every church and every pulpit, after every revival, every communion, and every conversion. It is a great occasion when a child is born into a home. But it is the beginning of care that must and will know no intermitting through all the years of that child’s infancy and adolescence. It is a great occasion when any person is converted and added to a church. But it ought to be the very beginning of great care and great prayer for him on the part of pastors, elders, and all the Christian people.
If the whole church put into active spiritual practice the life and lessons taught by Paul in the Epistle to the Colossians, as to the care of young converts and, indeed, of all Christians, there would cease to be a large part of the sorrow and shame that are called for by the Suspended Rolls.