I had a thought recently that I thought I'd share here. When I had my conversion to the Catholic faith, it wasn't overnight. Looking back on the entire journey, it is easy to see when I had that 'aha' moment about Christianity. That it's real! That Jesus really did live die and rise from the dead. However, what I've come to realize is that there was a period of time before this 'aha' moment when my heart was being softened and ready to receive the Gospel fully. Very much like the parable of the sower (See Matthew chapter 13) - good soil was being tilled and prepared for the seed so that the plant would grow well and produce fruit.
About 6 months before my conversion experience I experienced a lot of life. I had my first love. I had formed some incredible life-long friendships. And I had lived life to the fullest and experienced more than I could explain in words. I also had my first heartbreak (following the first love of course). This whirlwind of emotions and life softened my heart. What was key that during this time there was no hint of religion or Christianity at all. No one talked about it, and I didn't think about it. It was purely the experience of a full and beautiful life which created the good soil for the Lord to work with.
While I was thinking of this I realized that this can be helpful to those who pray for souls but do not see any progress. It can become disheartening to pray intensely for someone and then after a period of time not see any signs of change in their thinking, way of life, etc. However, instead of looking for those things, ask yourself if God is preparing them. Is God softening their hearts? Is God showing them his love and his beauty? For me this time of preparation was about 6 months, for others it can be much longer. The better prepared the soil, the more bountiful the harvest.
This post is titled Soften my heart O Lord and that's a reference to Hebrews 3:15 (which is quoting Psalm 95) which states "Today when you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts". I think that a related prayer would be to pray for God to soften our hearts and those of whom we love and wish would come to the church or come back to the church.
It also reminds me of the idea of the Cathedral of nature. There are some absolutely beautiful parts of God's great beautiful world. Don't get me wrong, the Cathedrals that the Catholic Church has built are can be absolutely mind blowing and beautiful, but they pale in comparison to the natural beauty with which God creates. Just take a trip to Monument Valley, the Grand Canyon, or a hundred other beautiful places. In a beautiful church we have the Creator, and in nature we have his creation. They work together to both bring us to God.