Posts Tagged ‘Praying for the Lost’
Paul urged us in 1 Timothy 2:1-7 to pray for all people and specifically because He desires to save all people (v.4). In view of this, one point of my job (driving a truck) is that I pass through many towns and cities. When I do this, I pray for these towns. I pray that God will glorify His name in these towns and that He would send forth His gospel that saves sinners. I pray for God to raise up Spirit-filled evangelists who will preach His Word and declare His truth to a lost generation. I hunger for God to glorify His name in the midst of these towns.
How wonderful it is to pray for the lost. We have the assurance of God’s Word that He hears our cries (Hebrews 4:14-16). We have a Father in heaven who loves us and has demonstrated His love toward us by sending His Son to bear our sins and save us from the wrath to come (Romans 5:8-9). In light of the gospel, I pray through the gospel for the lost to be saved (Romans 10:1).
I urge you all, if you are saved through grace (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-7) to pray for the lost. Pray for your family members, co-workers, friends, classmates, and even strangers to be saved. This is good and pleasing in the eyes of God.
Charles Spurgeon said,
“If we cannot prevail with men for God, we will, at least, endeavor to prevail with God for men. We cannot save them, or even persuade them to be saved, but we can at least bewail their madness and entreat the interference of the Lord. Like Jeremiah, we can make it our resolve, ‘If ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret places for your pride, and mine eye shall weep sore and run down with tears.’ To such pathetic appeals the Lord’s heart can never be indifferent; in due time the weeping intercessor will become the rejoicing winner of souls.”
Jesus taught us in Matthew 5:44 to pray for our enemies. He said, “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Adam Clarke offers sound advice about this when he writes,
This is another exquisitely reasonable precept. I cannot change that wicked man’s heart; and while it is unchanged he will continue to harass me: God alone can change it: then I must implore him to do that which will at once secure the poor man’s salvation, and contribute so much to my own peace.
We Christians have not always obeyed this verse very well. Like other humans, we can want revenge or to gloat over the fall of our enemies. We enjoy watching people fail. We enjoy it when we see people fall into sin. This should not be but it is the truth.
Church History is also full of the evils we have done toward others. Whether it be Martin Luther’s hatred for the Jews and his call to attack them or John Calvin’s treatment of the heretic Michael Servetus, we have a history of persecution. During the Reformation, the reformers often called for the persecution of the Anabaptists. Arminius was more charitable toward the Anabaptists though he disagreed with them.
After the infamous Synod of Dort, the victorious Calvinists took to persecuting Arminians. Arminian pastors were forbidden from preaching, their churches were either burned or closed, and one Arminian at the Synod of Dort lost his head for his faith. The persecution was intense against the Arminians.
At the turn of the 20th century, the Pentecostals faced persecution from other Christians. Baptists and even Holiness churches persecuted the Pentecostals. In the South, the KKK tormented the Pentecostals and burned their churches. Men such as G. Campbell Morgan called the Pentecostal movement, “the vomit of Satan.”
Again, we have not done a good job in history of living out Matthew 5:44.
My first advice in living out Matthew 5:44 is to pray for those whom you disagree. How often do you pray for those whom you dislike because of their beliefs? How often do you pray for Muslims or for Hindus to be saved? Do you pray for the Islamic terrorists to come to faith in Christ? Do you pray, like Paul in Romans 10:1, for the Jew to be saved? Do you pray for all men to be saved (1 Timothy 2:1-6)? Do you cry out for the glory of God to be revealed through those whom you disagree such as other disciples but different from you theologically? For example, I disagree with Calvinism but this does not keep me from praying for and loving Calvinists. I pray often for open air preachers I know who are Reformed in their theology and perhaps would not even sit at a table with me for my Arminianism but I pray for them and ask our Father to use them for His glory.
The sad history of the Church has seen too much violence toward those whom we disagree. We need a time of peace and a time where we show the world the truth of John 13:34-35. I am not saying that we lay down our theology for some sort of fake love. I am saying that we need to pray for those whom we believe are damned or simply whom we disagree. We are quick to write a blog post on a brother or sister but are we so quick to pray for them? We cast judgment on people all the time but are we praying and interceding for them to know the truth of God? We say we believe in a God who hears and answers prayer. Then show it. Pray for those whom you disagree and ask the Lord to transform their heart (2 Timothy 2:24-26).
This week my wife and her mother took our boys down to the beach outside of Charleston, SC. Being an avid history fan, I drove down in my own car with my mountain bike and decided to spend some time wandering the old city. History has largely been buried by commercialism but there is still much rich history in Charleston. From the American Revolution down to the Civil War to World War II, history abounds in that city.
Yet I had been praying for the Lord to burden my soul for the lost. I do enjoy giving out gospel tracts and I enjoy praying for the lost to be saved (Romans 10:1) and I enjoy supporting those who are on the front lines of the battle with the enemy seeking to evangelize the nations, but I want to be broken over the lost. I don’t want to just pass the lost and not consider their eternal fate whether it is the rich business man or the average worker, all people that we see today and meet today will stand before the throne of God and give an account for their lives. Most will hear the dreadful words of Matthew 25:41. So many are lost in their sins and love their sins. Our culture is breeding a society that loves sin and wants nothing to do with the conviction of God. But the Spirit of God still is moving and He still is able to convict sinners and draw them to the Savior (John 16:8-11). I want to see Him at work, to see sinners repent and turn from their wickedness.
As I was praying for this, when I arrived in Charleston, my heart broke as I saw a city where Christianity is all over the place. It is obvious that Charleston, SC once had a strong Christian heritage. Churches are all over the place. The city skyline is full of steeples. In fact, Charleston is nicknamed by historians as “the city of churches.” Like Washington DC will not allow buildings to be higher than the Washington Monument, so no building in the city of Charleston is to be taller than the highest church steeple. In this way, the church steeples remain the pinnacle of the city. Written on many of the old buildings are carved sayings such as “To the Glory of God.” I visited The Citadel and here they have a large chapel that has on the front of it the words of Ecclesiastes 12:1 (KJV). Many of the buildings I visited had Scriptures on the cornerstones from an era where God was acknowledged though many perhaps did not know Him in truth.
Yet now Charleston is like any other American city. It is full of idolatry, money, the love of things, no fear of God, and much sin. I saw homosexuals walking around the city without any thought of their sins. I saw women walking around without much clothes on even in the city streets. Alcohol abounded. I saw churches that now appear to be more museums than actual places for the disciples to come and worship God together. I never saw any other people out on the streets passing out tracts or preaching but I believe there are some as a man told me that he had seen some men passing out gospel tracts the day before I arrived. I visited an old park and sat and prayed over the wicked city. I spoke to a few men about eternity. I passed out a few gospel tracts. I prayed for the park to be full of gospel preachers who would preach the truth of God to the lost souls that come there to sit and mostly eat lunch. While there my heart broke as I watched a group come together to protest outside of a Moe’s because they believed that eating animals should be banned. I listened to their non-sense and longed for them to know the Savior. They will fight for an animal’s rights better than many churches will fight for the lost.
Charleston is typical of many cities that I have visited before. New York City. Boston. Washington DC. Chicago. Atlanta. Miami. Tampa. Charlotte. All these cities abound with wickedness. Yet Charleston is unique in that it is the city of churches and there is a strong Christian history here. Yet the city, like those above, is full of Satan. The Church must realize that we are at war for souls (Ephesians 6:12). The gospel must be preached (Matthew 28:19). The gospel will break the chains of sin (Psalm 107:14). The gospel alone can save sinners who cry out to Jesus (Acts 2:21; 17:30-31; Romans 10:14-17). The gospel can turn these wicked sinners around (John 3:3-5) and make them new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). The gospel can turn a wicked city such as Charleston, SC into a city full of the glory of God. I long to see the Lord save sinners for His glory and honor (1 Corinthians 1:18-25).
I urge you who perhaps read this to pray for the lost to be saved (Matthew 9:38). Pray for the Word of God to go forth and bring forth conviction. Pray for the Church of Christ to be stirred to prayer and to evangelism.
Psalm 126:5-6 reads (NKJV):
5 Those who sow in tears
Shall reap in joy.
6 He who continually goes forth weeping,
Bearing seed for sowing,
Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing,
Bringing his sheaves with him.
How many souls did I pass by today who are lost and going to hell perhaps tonight? How many people need to hear the gospel of the Lord Jesus, they are on the verge of eternity and need to hear the truth of God, that they must repent, yet I said nothing. Oh how this breaks my heart. I know that I can’t save a sinner but I know that the gospel can set people free. The gospel is not to be hidden from men. It is to be preached from the roof tops. The gospel alone can set the cocaine addict free. The gospel can set the rapist free. The gospel can set the homosexual free. The gospel can set the religious free. The gospel can set the racist free. And yet I must preach the gospel for them to be saved (Romans 10:14-17).
Psalm 126:5-6 calls me to deep intercessory prayer. I want to sow in tears. I do want to be active in evangelism. I do want to pass out gospel tracts and preach in the open air. I do want to witness to people one-on-one. But I want to sow in tears first. I want to sow with much prayer. We don’t pray for the Lord to bless our work. Prayer is the work. Evangelism flows from deep prayer. As we pray for the lost, the Lord grants us His heart for the lost. As we pray for the lost, compassion rises up as we see their utter misery without Christ. As we pray for the lost, we sense the urgency to preach to the lost. We know that every second two people die. The person next to you on the subway. The person in the line at the grocery store. The person who cuts your hair. Every person you see now on the streets will die. All of us will die. We need to have the urgency of evangelism, the heart of God for the lost. John 3:16 says it clearly about our missionary God. God loved the world so much that He sent His Son to atone for our sins and all who repent can be forgiven of our sins.
Oh that the Spirit of God would awaken us to the lost around us! Oh that we would see the truth that all are lost without Jesus. None can get to heaven through good works or through religion or through their moral goodness. To enter into the presence of a holy God, we must be perfect (Matthew 5:8, 48). We all lack this. We all are sinners before God Almighty (Romans 3:23) but praise God for the sacrifice of Jesus (Hebrews 2:14-15). Jesus alone is able to bring us before God (1 Timothy 2:5-6). Jesus alone is the way, the truth, and the life and no one comes to the Father but through Him (John 14:6). Salvation is accomplished by the sovereign Spirit of God and not by works (Romans 4:5; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-7). In fact, all of our good works before God are not very good at all (Isaiah 64:6). We need a Savior (Luke 2:11). Jesus alone is that Savior.
So I urge you saint of God to not be silent. Intercede for the lost (Romans 10:1). Pray for the harvest (Matthew 9:37-38; Luke 10:2). Pray for the Lord to use you to spread His fame. Pray Psalm 126:5-6. Ask the Lord to give you an urgency in evangelism. Pray that God’s heart would fill your heart and that He would move you by His Spirit to boldness for His glory and honor (Acts 4:29-31). Allow the Spirit of God to equip you to be a faithful witness for Christ (Acts 1:8). Don’t be unmoved. Don’t be lazy about the lost. Don’t wait. Preach the Word of life to the lost. Pray. Weep. Preach.
1. Pray Specifically For The Person To Be Saved
Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
2. Pray For The Will of God For Their Salvation
1 Timothy 2:1-6
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.
3. Pray For The Seed of The Word of God To Be Planted In Their Life
5 Those who sow in tears
shall reap with shouts of joy!
6 He who goes out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
bringing his sheaves with him.
As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.
4. Pray For God To Open Their Spiritual Eyes To His Gospel
2 Corinthians 4:4-6
4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight.
5. Pray For The Lord To Draw Them To Himself
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.
And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.
6. Pray For Workers To Plant The Gospel Seed In The Lost Person’s Life
37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
7. Pray For God To Be Glorified In Answering These Prayers
13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.