When it comes to praying for people, siblings are very easy to overlook. It’s a simple thing to remember to pray for ourselves and for those starving in Africa before we go to bed. But somehow, the people across the room or down the hallway are easier to forget. We know their spiritual needs better than most people, yet we neglect to pray for them.
There are many ways we can be a good brother or sister, but one of the best ways — perhaps the biggest way — is to pray for them.
Our siblings have souls. We might forget that when they are relentlessly interrupting us or are carelessly making messes, but nevertheless it is true. Their spiritual lives are what matter the most when you look at eternity.
Of course, we can’t change their souls. Although we do have an influence on them, we do not have any direct control over our siblings. But God does.
That is why we need to pray for them!
Praying for our siblings can help us to have the right perspective. When we pray for them, we remember what really matters. Not their faults, not the grudges we may have against them, not even the silly choice they made yesterday. What matters is their eternity.
Here are three things anybody with siblings should remember in their prayers:
#1: Pray for their faith.
Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. - Romans 10:1 (ESV)
It is of the highest importance that we pray for the salvation of our unsaved siblings. If you aren’t already praying for this, it is time to start. And even if you have prayed for this hundreds of times, and they still haven’t come to faith, keep praying.
Even if they are growing up in a Christian home, your siblings still need prayer for their faith. I would even say that they need prayer especially if they are growing up in a Christian home. When your parents are Christian, it is easy for your siblings to assume that makes them a Christian as well. With all the times they’ve heard the gospel preached at church, they may block it out effortlessly. A Christian household can be the most difficult place to discover the truth about your sibling’s heart. And as frustrating as they may be, it is scary to think where some of our siblings may be heading if God doesn’t intervene.
If you have a sibling who has come to faith, praise God! Living next to these fellow believers, you have the opportunity to see the work God is doing in them firsthand. You also get to see the work that is left to be done. Be patient. Make use of that knowledge by praying that their faith would increase and remain steadfast for all of their lives. Pray that God would continue to work in them. Pray that they would be an encouragement to others.
#2: Pray for God’s forgiveness.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. - 1 John 1:9 (ESV)
The second thing we should include in our prayers is to ask for God's forgiveness if we have sinned against our brother or sister. This happens far more often than we like to admit. Many of my daily sins are against my siblings, and often I don't even notice. But sins never go unnoticed in God's eyes. I can pray that He would remind me of the sins I’ve forgotten and when He does, I need to repent of them.
Remembering our sins, and the sacrifice Jesus made for us, promotes humility. The more we acknowledge how imperfect we are, the more we are amazed by the great love and mercy God showed us. The more aware we are of our imperfections, the more we love the God who first loved us. Asking God for forgiveness keeps our hearts in check.
And if you ask for your sibling's forgiveness too, that is a truly loving and God-glorifying thing! When you ask for your sibling's forgiveness, it shows that you remember the unkind word you spoke or the action that you did against them and that you know it was wrong. It also shows you care for them and that you’re eager to follow Christ's instruction. This is also an opportunity for you to set an example for them and to show them how to repent of their own sins.
Regarding our siblings’ sins against us, we sometimes feel like Peter.
Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” - Matthew 18:21 (ESV)
And then we see Jesus’ response in the next verse:
Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
(If you are having trouble forgiving someone, I highly recommend reading the rest of Jesus’ response, one of my favorites, the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant: Matthew 18:23-35.)
If we want to reflect God’s mercy, we’ll need to forgive our siblings a lot. After all, how can we leave our siblings unforgiven in the light of God's forgiveness to us? Remembering God's mercy to us can help us to show mercy to our siblings, whether they repent or not.
#3: Pray for humility and patience for tomorrow
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. - James 1:5-6 (ESV)
No sibling is perfect — ourselves included. We must pray for humility and patience for one another, because none of us can show humility nor patience on our own. The fruit we need to bear with siblings in love comes from God, and God alone -- more specifically, they come from the Holy Spirit.
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control—have you ever thought of applying these to the way you treat your siblings?
These virtues are so important to show our siblings if we want to shine the light of Christ in their lives. It isn't enough to pray for God to save your siblings. It is not enough to ask for forgiveness from them and to forgive their wrongs against you. We must also show them what Christ is like. If they only see the sinful side of a Jesus-follower, why would they want to take the same path and follow Jesus as well? Your unsaved siblings need to see the change Jesus has sparked in you.
But in order to take on these attributes, we must ask God for them. God tells us in His word that He wants to do all these things in us, so why don’t you ask Him to?
There are multiple ways to remember siblings in our prayers, and many rabbit trails that come off those, but the most important thing to remember is to pray for your siblings!
It can be as simple as saying, "Father, please take care of my siblings and help me point them to you in the way I live." Don’t keep your siblings’ lives and your faith life separate. Bearing with siblings is hard, and we can't do it ourselves. But with His help, it is possible!