Posts Tagged ‘Praying for the Lost’
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.
Sadly, far too many of us spend our time praying only for ourselves. We fail to have the heart of God in prayer which is for the world to come and worship Him and adore Him. In Isaiah 45:22 God says to the nations for them to turn to Him and be saved because He alone is God. There is no other salvation.
With this in mind, we should be praying for God’s salvation through Jesus Christ to go to the ends of the earth just as He commanded (Mark 16:15-16). Jesus promised His disciples the power of the Holy Spirit to evangelize the nations (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8) and He still is filling His children with His Spirit for that purpose (Acts 2:1-4, 38-39): that the nations may repent (Acts 17:30-31). Our prayers should be for the glory of God revealed in Jesus (John 14:12-14). Our prayers should focus on the exaltation of our God (Matthew 6:9). Our prayers should be for His gospel to go forth into all nations.
Operation World is one of the best tools for praying for the nations. I will admit that it is very easy to get caught up reading all the statistics about the various nations from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. The statistics report how many missionaries are in the nation and how many are from that nation to other nations, how large various denominations are, the percentage of religions in the nation, and it focuses on prayer issues such as war, poverty, cults, religions, etc. Today, March 7, the prayer focus is Belgium. The statistics tell us that Belgium is 62% Christian in religion but 32% claim atheism or agnosticism. Belgium needs the gospel. It once was a strong missionary nation. Today it reflects the post-Christian culture that is Europe full of sin and unbelief. Public faith has been, for the most part, banished from public view. The government is completely secular with no affirmation in religion and even antagonism toward religious faiths. We can praise God that He is moving among the young people with house churches and a strong prayer movement that is bringing together young people to pray. Many young people are seeing the barrenness of riches and atheism. They are longing for a touch from God. Sadly, orthodox disciples only amount to just over 1% of the religious population out of 10.7 million people. There are no known missionaries from Belgium.
The value of this book is that it not only gives you a wealth of information about the nation but it allows you to pray with a focus. Rather than just praying, “Oh God pour out Your Spirit on Belgium,” it allows you to pray specifically for the nation with statistics coming from missionary agencies here in the United States. We can rejoice that God is moving all over the world in missions. The USA continues to send out the most missionaries with just under 100,000 people now serving in the world in missions. God is moving in many other nations as well such as Korea and in Great Britain. The Lord is moving in places such as Mexico to send Spanish-speaking missionaries into Central and South America with the gospel. The Lord is moving in Africa as African disciples are moving across the great continent with the gospel of Jesus Christ even as the Ethiopian eunuch did in Acts 8:39 after being baptized into Christ.
Prayer should not be focused just on our needs and our desires. How often do we pray for the nations? How often do you hear things on the news and begin to seek God about those needs? Do you pray for our leaders such as President Obama to not only lead through the wisdom of God but that he would be saved by grace? Do you pray for the world problems in the Middle East and in Europe? Do you pray that the Lord would use the financial crisis in Greece and Italy to draw souls away from the gods of this world and unto Himself? We should pray as world Christians! This would be the heart of God as we see in Matthew 9:37-38; Romans 10:1; or 1 Timothy 2:1-7.
Our prayers rise before the throne of Almighty God like sweet-smelling incense (Revelation 5:8). How sweet are your prayers? How often do you remember to pray for the nations? Psalm 126:5-6 says,
Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.
I pray that God will give you a burden to pray for the lost. Our world needs the gospel.
Have you taken time to slowly read through the conversion of Saul of Tarsus in Acts 9? I mean really taken time to slow down and work over each sentence? I did this past week during my devotions and my studies left me praying Acts 9. How dramatic is the conversion of Saul! Here was a man who in Acts 7:58 is at the stoning of Stephen and then in Acts 8:1 we read that this man approved of the execution of Stephen and he led an attack upon the Lord’s Church beginning that day. The attacks led to the saints of God being forced out of Jerusalem and into the world (Acts 8:4). Acts 9:1 opens with Saul still breathing threats and murder against the disciples. How many disciples did Saul see killed? How many were murdered by Saul and his mob? Scripture does not tell us but I am sure many!
And then Jesus comes into the scene. Can you imagine the conversion of Saul and how that would sound to the persecuted saints of God? No wonder in Acts 9:26 that we read that the disciples in Jerusalem did not believe that Saul was a true disciple. I would not have either. It would be like an atheist in our day such as Richard Dawkins coming to the Lord but even more if Dawkins were actually seeking to kill Christians. Even more, it would be like Dawkins being a Jew and seeking to destroy the faith of Jews in a Jewish rabbi named Jesus of Nazareth. I think really we have no ability to really grasp what the conversion of Saul would have sounded like to the disciples of that day.
A few things stand out to me about Acts 9. First is the ultimate reality that salvation is truly of the Lord (Jonah 2:9). God is sovereign in salvation. In this case, God Himself steps into Saul’s life. We read of no evangelists here in Acts 9 preaching to Saul. We read of no tracts. Jesus knocks Saul off his horse (Acts 9:4). Perhaps Saul had heard the gospel through Stephen. We can safely assume that he heard the entire sermon by Stephen in Acts 7 and perhaps God used those words and the character of the godly saint Stephen to show Saul his sins. We don’t know. We only know that God stepped into Saul’s life here in Acts 9 to save him. As Saul would later write in Galatians 4:4 that when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son and He did this clearly in Acts 9 in Saul’s conversion.
Secondly, I note that Saul’s conversion should be like our own in that no person including ourselves should get glory for our salvation. Only Jesus saves (Matthew 1:21). There is no other Savior but Him (Acts 4:12). He alone is our mediator (1 Timothy 2:5-6). Jesus alone is our salvation (Romans 6:23). Jesus alone reconciles us to God the Father (2 Corinthians 5:18-21). In Saul’s case, no person could be glorified for saving Saul but Jesus. Jesus alone struck him down and saved him. This must be our testimony as well. We didn’t save ourselves. None “led us to Christ” but the Spirit (John 6:44). Jesus Christ alone and not a church, a group, a person, or a plan saved us.
Third, I notice the faith of God’s servant Ananias that we first meet in Acts 9:10. A couple things about Ananias. First, I admire his ability to hear the Lord. Jesus said that His sheep would know His voice and in this case, Ananias does know the voice of the Lord (John 10:27; Acts 9:10). Second, the faith and boldness of Ananias to believe the word of the Lord and to go to Saul who had been killing Christians and utters the words, “Brother Saul.” How incredible. Ananias did two things here. He believed God in faith that what God said about Saul was true and he had boldness to call Saul “brother” without fear.
We never hear of Ananias again. I have often pondered that fact. We know nothing about Ananias or his conversion. We know nothing about how he himself came to faith. Perhaps he did know Saul in some way. I am probably going too far there but what is amazing to me is that Ananias did his part for God. He was the one who went to Saul and prayed for him to regain his sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit. He played his part. He obeyed God. He may not be known as a John Wesley or an Arminius or an Edwards but he is to be praised for being obedient to the Lord when the Lord needed him. That describes most of us. We will not have our names go down in history as earth shakers for Jesus. But let us do our part. Let us be willing to do whatever God wants us to do to exalt His name. Ananias never appears again in Scripture. We have no mention of him in the New Testament letters. But he did what God told him to do and that is enough (Luke 17:10).
What led me to pray Acts 9 is that I want to see conversions like this. I want to hear the stories of people whom the Lord strikes down and He saves. We hear evangelists from time to time share how they have seen this many or that many repent of their sins and I to God that these conversions are true but I want to hear the God-conversions where God steps into a life and He stops a person in their tracks and He saves them. I don’t doubt that God uses the preaching of His Word to save sinners. In fact, I don’t believe a person can be saved without the gospel message (Romans 10:17). The great commission of Jesus makes no sense (Matthew 28:19-20) if in fact He can save people without the preaching of the gospel but I do believe that all of salvation is of the Lord. He saves sinners.
Later Saul of Tarsus would write 1 Timothy 1:12-17. I would urge you to read those passages very slowly as well. Let them sink into your soul as you consider the fact that Saul murdered disciples. Saul understood in 1 Timothy 1:12-17 that his salvation is to be found in Jesus alone. Not in Ananias. Not in a church. Not in the Apostles. Only in Jesus and His grace could Saul trust.
I pray that many people around me would experience Acts 9 conversions. I know of so many ungodly, pagan, lost men at my work. They need the gospel. I pray that they see Jesus in me. I pray that the gospel would flow through me like a river. I pray that the Holy Spirit will take the gospel message and shine it though me and that He would exalt Jesus in allowing me to preach the truth when I can. I believe His promise in Acts 1:8 to empower me to be His witness. I pray that many Acts 9 conversions would take place.
We also need these conversions in the Church. Far too many people are lost in the Church. They look the part. They act the part. But inwardly, they are lost. They are far from God. They claim to know God but their actions deny Him (Titus 1:16). Such religious people are lost and bound for hell apart from God’s grace (1 John 3:6-9). I pray that God would strike them down as He did to Saul in Acts 9. Saul was religious but lost (Romans 10:1-4). So many fit that description in the modern Church. Religious but lost. Happy but lost. Clappy but lost. Smiling but lost. Oh for Acts 9 to be applied by God’s sovereign grace!
I urge you to pray for the lost. We disciples of Jesus can intercede for the lost (1 Timothy 2:1-6). We can pray 2 Peter 3:9 for the lost. We can pray John 3:16-17 for the lost. We can pray Mark 16:15 for the lost. We can pray for the gospel to bear fruit and for the Lord to strike people down by His sovereign hand. Let us pray for more Saul’s to be converted to Jesus Christ our Lord. All this is for His glory alone (John 14:12-14).
The heart of God is for the world to hear the gospel. Jesus gave us His commission to go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20). The Lord even gave us the promise of the Father, the Holy Spirit, to fulfill this worldwide commission (Acts 1:8). The heart of God is seen in the giving of His Son for the world to be saved through faith in Him (John 3:16).
So what are you and I doing about working with God for the evangelism of the world? On a simple level, are you and I even praying for the world to hear the gospel? Sadly too often we spend more time praying for what concerns us and not the heart of God when it comes to prayer. We pray for this or that but we fail to pray the heart of God which is for the lost to be saved. We fail to pray for the Word to go forth (2 Thessalonians 3:1). We fail to pray for the truth of God to go forth (Romans 10:14-17) and convict of sin and save sinners. We fail to pray for the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the world (John 16:8-11).
So I write this to admonish you and I both to pray for the world. Prayer is the first step in being missions minded. While I believe that we should invest our money and time into missions both on a national and international level, prayer is the first and highest priority for the disciple. Prayer takes us into the holy presence of God (Hebrews 4:14-16) and let’s us seek the God of the nations. In prayer we can ask God the Father in the name of Jesus for the nations (Psalm 2:8; John 14:13-14; 1 John 5:14-15) and we have the promises of God that He hears our cries. We are praying His heart! We are praying according to His will.
The heart of God is the salvation of souls. Do all you can for souls but oh pray!
“I just don’t agree with sharing your faith like that.” This is the typical statement you’ll hear from some folks about a style of evangelism they don’t like such as confrontational evangelism or street preaching or passing out tracts. I once was stopped by a guy at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee when I was sharing the gospel with some teenagers waiting in line and he pulled me off and said, “I am a Christian and I am here on my vacation and though I appreciate what you are trying to do, can’t we just have a good time without you forcing your religion on everyone around you?” I said to him gracefully, “If you claim to be a Christian, what type of evangelism would you do here?” He gave no reply.
You see you may not like the style of say Ray Comfort and The Way of the Master or you may not like the style of Jesse Morrell and street preachers or perhaps you don’t like the style of Bill Hybels but in the end, what style of evangelism do you do? Jesus told us to preach the gospel (Mark 16:15). Are we to disobey Jesus? Jesus told us to make disciples in every nation (Matthew 28:19). Are we to ignore His command? Jesus told us that as He was sent from the Father, so He was sending us (John 20:21). Are we not to go and proclaim His gospel as He commanded? Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would empower us to share our faith (Acts 1:8). Are we to do nothing with the gift that Jesus has given us?
I don’t care if you pass out tracts or share Jesus with your co-workers at lunch or you stand on a street corner and preach the gospel. I don’t care if you go to Africa and preach the gospel. I All I want to see is the lost saved. I want to see people repenting of their sins (Acts 3:19). I want to see the Lord Jesus and His gospel go forth as He commanded it to be. I want the glory of God to fill the nations (Psalm 2:8).
The other day I was working and considering prayer. I was pondering how much time do I pray for the lost? Am I truly burdened by the fact that 133,000 people a day die without Jesus Christ? Am I burdened by the fact that most of the nations have yet to hear the true gospel of Jesus Christ? Am I burdened that most of the folks in my own city are lost without God? Does it bother me that so many people around me are dying in their sins without Jesus? I must say that these thoughts moved me. I begin to pray, despite being very tired at the time, and cry out to God to move in power to show His glory and His salvation. I begin to pray for the gospel to go forth and that the Holy Spirit would help me to share the gospel with the lost around me. I begin to pray for the tracts that I have passed out, that they would have fallen into the hands of people who are being drawn by the Spirit (John 6:44). I begin to pray for disciples to seek to preach Christ in every circumstance they find themselves (Philippians 1:20-21). Oh to have the heart of Paul the Apostle who said in Romans 15:20 that his desire was to preach Christ not where He had already be preached but to those who had not heard His name. I pray that my heart would beat that way as well.