Our preaching and reasoning about the gospel will always hit deaf ears... but that should not cause us to despair because the Spirit to whom we pray can unplug those deaf ears .. and, in fact, is the only one who can. So we intercede for the people we speak to ... appeal to God for their souls knowing that He alone can save them. (Deut 29:4; 30:6) B. B. Warfield once said:
"God has not sent us into the world to say the most plausible things we can think of; to touch men with what they already believe. He has sent us to preach unpalatable truths to a world lying in wickedness; apparently absurd truths to men, proud of their intellects; mysterious truths to men who are carnal and cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God. Shall we despair? Certainly, if it is left to us not only to plant and to water but also to give the increase. Certainly not, if we appeal to and depend upon the Spirit of faith."
Visitor Question: if God chose before the foundations of the world those who would be saved...why pray for the salvation of others? In that case, God would have already chosen those who are His. I not only want to but actually do pray for the salvation of many people I know that do not know The Lord personally yet. Prayer and the doctrine of election (perhaps the Reformed doctrine of election) do not seem to go together.
Response: on the contrary, why pray for a person if God can do nothing to save him, as synergists affirm? Prayer for a person is a prayer to God to do something to them -- i.e. save them. But if God cannot interfere with his will all you can pray for them is that God would persuade them through reason in a similar way that we persuade them. no more no less.
On the other hand, the prayer of people who believe only God can save a man makes complete sense. God ordains not only the ends but the means. Election does not save anyone.. it is the blueprint of what God intends to do in time through Jesus Christ ... applied by the Holy Spirit as the church casts the seed of the gospel. We cast the seed of the gospel knowing only the Spirit can germinate the seed. God has determined to make his praying church an integral part of his plan to gather his elect. God is involved not only in electing but in every detail of how they get to Christ. People are not saved in a void but by the gospel. That is why we pray and preach.
So the real inconsistency is with those who do not think God can save people. We must turn the tables and ask you ... why do you pray for people's salvation, while at the same time declaring that God cannot interfere with our wills?
Kevin Reed said, "if we recognize God is sovereign & proactive (having established what He would do before creation) then we enter into prayer saying "God, do what You have said You would do (save those appointed to salvation) & save this one whom I desire know You as You have made Yourself known to me. Yet not my will but Yours be done" The intent of prayer is not to shape God & His will/work to my desires but to shape my desires to His will/work. I know He has changed my will therefore I know He can change the will of another but I do not presume to know He will. Therefore I pray He will &, in obedience to Him, proclaim His gospel to all with the expectation He will, by the moving of the Holy Spirit & through the proclamation of His revelation, produce faith unto confession of Jesus Christ, repentance from self and sin & submission to His authority, particularly in gathering with others of similar faith. The Doctrine of "Unconditional" Election does not stand alone. It stands in concert with Man's Total Depravity (having no merit) & God's Irresistible Grace (acting to benefit whom He benefits).