You kneel, close your eyes, and try to focus. You should pray for your LDS friend’s salvation, but how? You think, fumble a few beginnings, and say, “Lord, please work in their hearts and save them. In Jesus’ name. Amen.” As you rise, you may feel frustrated or ashamed. Your prayer was genuine and based on truth, and God can answer it. However, you know you can pray more specifically and deeply. But how?
Four Types of Soil
“Listen! Consider the sower who went out to sow,” Jesus begins the parable of the soils (Mark 4:3). This farmer’s seed lands on four types of soil as it’s scattered. First, hard soil blocks the seed, which birds then devour (4:4). Second, a thin layer of soil over bedrock keeps the roots shallow, so the plants are charred by the sun (4:5-6). Third, thorny soil impedes nutrients and light, smothering the seed (4:7). Fourth, good soil produces bounty (4:8). Three soils destroy life; one nurtures life.
Jesus’ disciples later ask what this parable means. “The sower sows the word,” Jesus explains (4:14). He then says that the four soils symbolize different types of people and how they respond to God’s Word.
The hard soil represents people the Word doesn’t affect, and “immediately Satan comes and takes away the word sown in them” (4:15). The thin soil over bedrock represents people who initially receive God’s Word but later abandon it because of trials (4:16-17). The thorny soil represents people who bear no fruit for God because “the worries of this age, the deceitfulness of wealth, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word” (4:18-19). Finally, the good soil represents people who receive God’s Word and bear fruit (4:20).
Guidance for Prayer
Your LDS friend or family member falls into one of these categories. Therefore, they’ll respond to the gospel in one of four ways: rejection, shallow-but-false acceptance, distracted consideration, or true faith resulting in a fruitful life. Three responses destroy life; one nurtures life.
When you pray, pray through the lethal soils, and get specific. Why might your family member be hardhearted against the gospel? Perhaps it’s because of false teaching, misconceptions, a stubborn personality, or bad experiences.
How might your friend suffer if they accept Christ? Maybe they will be rejected by family, be harassed at work, lose community respect, or suffer material loss.
What distractions might divert your friend’s faith? It could be money, entertainment, health, constant travel, or sports. Pray for God to remove hindrances to the gospel in your friend or family member’s life.
Then pray for God to transform your friend’s heart into fertile soil. Pray for God to soften a hard heart with the water of his love and kindness. Pray for him to break up bedrock by showing them that Christ is worth any trouble they face for his sake. Pray for God to rip thorny distractions out of their lives so they fully consider the gospel. Pray for him to create a heart that nourishes the seed of his Word and bears fruit.
The Most Important Parable
Before Jesus explained the parable to his disciples, he said, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any of the parables?” (4:13). Jesus wasn’t talking about mere mental understanding. You can intellectually grasp this teaching and still reject God’s Word. Jesus is saying, “If you don’t have a heart of good soil like this parable teaches, you won’t accept anything else I teach because your heart won’t be able to receive it.”
It’s the same with your LDS friend or family member. Unless God transforms their hard or rocky or thorny heart into good soil, they will never accept the gospel. So, pray. Pray for God to soften the soil, break up the bedrock, and weed out the thorns. Pray for God to transform life-destroying soil into life-nurturing soil. Your friend will be able to receive and believe the gospel only then.