Praying for the Lost

Recently I’ve been reminded of the importance of praying for the lost. Three people that I’ve been praying to trust in Jesus received Jesus during the last month. God loves to redeem and to save. In my own experience, God chased me and saved me. God does chase, pursue and draw people to salvation. That is the storyline of the Bible–God’s redemptive plan for people who rejected him.

Luke 15 is one of the most beautiful illustrations of God pursuing the lost. In three parables, Jesus taught that God is like a shepherd who pursues his lost sheep, a woman who pursues a lost coin and a father who pursues lost sons. In truth, there are really only two kinds of people in the world–the lost and the found. The lost are those who have not trusted in Christ for salvation. They may be relying on themselves, on false religion, on good works, on past experiences, on church membership or any number of other things. The found are not anything special in and of themselves. The found are those who realized they were sinners, needed forgiveness and recognized that God was pursuing them. They trusted in Jesus alone for salvation and became followers of Christ.

As followers of Christ, we have an obligation to lead others to follow him. Some of you, like those I’ve talked with over the years, are concerned for lost friends, family, neighbors, co-workers and acquaintances. If you have those in your relational circles who are lost–not following Jesus–would you pray these biblical prayers for their salvation?

  • Pray that the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, would pursue these lost sheep. What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? Luke 15:4
  • Pray that the Holy Spirit would convict the lost of their sinfulness and guide them to trust Christ. And when he [the Holy Spirit] comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me;  concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer;  concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. John 15:8-11
  • Pray that God would take off the spiritual blinders of the lost those that they may see Christ. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 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. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 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. 2 Corinthians 4:3-6
  • Pray that the lost would know that God loves them unconditionally. But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
  • Pray that God would grant the lost his grace, faith and new life. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:4-9
  • Pray that the lost would be willing to follow Christ.  Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” Matthew 16:24-26
  • Pray that we all would be bold to share the good news of salvation with those around us. Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. Ephesians 6:18-20

Some of you might read this post and be discouraged. You’ve prayed for that friend, relative or co-worker for years. And they continue to reject Christ. Let me close with this reminder from one of my heroes in the faith–George Mueller. Mueller ran an orphanage in London by faith in the 19th century. His dependence on God continues to encourage saints to this day. He had been praying for two friends for more than 50 years to trust in Christ for salvation. Someone asked him, “George, you’ve been praying for these men a long time. Do you really think God will save them?”

Mueller replied, “Do you really believe that God would have me pray for them all these years if he did not intend to save them?” Just before Mueller’s death one friend came to Christ, and just after his death, the other came to Christ.

Don’t become discouraged. Persevere in your prayers for the lost. God wants them found more than you do.

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