I cannot change people. But I can pray that people would change. I can pray, e.g., that an abusive spouse would change. I can pray that God would break them in the right place, thereby giving them an invitation to change. But only God can change them.
It is a major step forward in the spiritual life to realize that God is the agent of change, not me. This helps me focus on the changes I need. When God changes me he can use me to influence people. The spiritual transformation that happens in my heart is not just for me.
I have seen people change. Their transformations have influenced me for the good. I understand the power of influence. Influence is more powerful than control. Trying to control or guilt-manipulate others mostly de-influences and distances them. More and more I see that I can let that go. At this point I am free to change. The transformation of my heart is in inverse proportion to my controlling demands that others change.
Sometimes God allows me to see how some other person, X, desperately needs to change. God gives me eyes to see this so I can pray for them, not judge or critique them (which any fool can do).
Here is a way to pray for X and their need to change.
- First, pray for more self-transformation into greater Christlikeness. Pray "God, change my heart!"
- Second, trust that God can use what is happening in you to influence X. Pray for God to guide you in ways to relate to X (what to do, what to say).
- Third, since all change requires brokenness, pray for X to be broken in the right place.
- Finally, pray for a fresh baptism of love that transcends irritation with people such as X and such as you.