We are called to pray for the gospel to be preached and the lost to be saved. Paul wrote, “Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved” (Rom. 10:1).
How dangerous it is to attempt to live without God. The following story illustrates the dangers faced daily by those who have not placed their faith in God:
In April 1988 the evening news reported on a photographer who was a skydiver. He had jumped from a plane along with numerous other skydivers and filmed the group as they fell and opened their parachutes. On the film shown on the telecast, as the final skydiver opened his chute, the picture went berserk. The announcer reported that the cameraman had fallen to his death, having jumped out of the plane without his parachute. It wasn’t until he reached for the absent ripcord that he realized he was freefalling without a parachute.
Until that point, the jump probably seemed exciting and fun. But tragically, he had acted with thoughtless haste and deadly foolishness. Nothing could save him, for his faith was in a parachute never buckled on. Faith in anything but an all-sufficient God can be just as tragic spiritually. Only with faith in Jesus Christ dare we step into the dangerous excitement of life.
If we truly grasp how serious it is for unbelievers to enter eternity without the knowledge of God, we will be gripped with a desire to pray for them.
Pray for spiritual harvesters
Ask God to raise up missionaries and evangelists to win the lost. But also ask Him to equip and empower you to share the gospel of Christ with others. Like prayer, witnessing to the lost is every Christian’s job.
Read Luke 10:25–37. Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan to demonstrate our responsibility to reach the lost.
Who did Jesus say was a good neighbor to the man who was attacked by thieves?
What did Jesus say we should do in light of the Good Samaritan’s kindness?
Sunday night, December 3, 1967, out of habit, I (Eddie) turned on the 10 o’clock television news as I fell exhausted across the bed in my motel room. I had concluded another week-long revival crusade. Suddenly I bolted straight up.
A news reporter was interviewing Dr. Christiaan Barnard, the son of a poor Afrikaner preacher and his wife. Barnard, senior cardiothoracic surgeon at the Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa, had just finished a five-hour operation during which he successfully replaced Louis
Washkansky’s diseased heart with the healthy heart of young Denise Darvall, who had been fatally injured in an automobile accident, in the world’s first human heart transplant!
I have never forgotten what Dr. Barnard said when asked why he performed the operation: “Mr. Washkansky just couldn’t live with his old heart.”
We should especially pray for the unreached peoples, who if they never hear and obey the gospel are doomed to eternal separation from God in hell. They just can’t live with their old hearts!
Pray for your enemies
How good are you at loving your enemies? Jesus taught His disciples, “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27–28).
Pray for those who mistreat us? We’d more naturally pray against them! There is one really good reason to pray for God’s blessings to be with those who mistreat us. We find it in James 2:13: “Because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!”
We should not expect God’s mercy to be shown to us when we fail to show mercy to others. Nor should we expect God’s forgiveness when we refuse to forgive others (Matt. 6:14–15)!
Think about it: From time to time, all of us face conflict and disappointment from others. How have you been hurt or offended by someone else? Assuming you have forgiven them, what are three ways you can begin to pray for them?
Pray for the persecuted church around the world
We are living in the day of the martyrs. More people are being imprisoned, tortured and killed for the gospel today than ever before in history. “Some 165,000 Christians will die for their faith this year . That is the view of religious statistician David B. Barrett in his new book Today’s Martyrs.”
We are the generation of which it was written, “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death” (Rev. 12:11).
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. —Matthew 6:14–15
In Scripture we find that the church prayed for Peter when he was imprisoned. Luke writes, “So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him” (Acts 12:5). Paul asked the church in Rome to pray for him when he was being persecuted. Paul asked Thessalonian Christians to pray for his deliverance from wicked, unreasonable men and suggested that the prayers of the Christians in Philippi had sustained him during his imprisonment.
Read Romans 15:30–31. How did Paul ask the Roman church to pray for him?
Read Philippians 1:12–13. Where was Paul when he wrote his letter to the Philippians?
Read Philippians 1:19–20. Why did he want them to pray for him?
Read 2 Thessalonians 3:2. What did Paul ask the Thessalonians to pray for him?
Pray for those in authority over you
Those in authority for whom we should pray include governmental leaders (national, state and local), civic and business leaders and spiritual leaders (pastors and ministry leaders, including those who lead your church). (Read 1 Timothy 2:2.)
PRAY FOR PASTORS AND CHURCH LEADERS
- Pray for their boldness to proclaim the gospel. (Read Ephesians 6:18–19.)
- Pray for their humility before God. Pray that they will be servant-hearted,
teachable, always learning, quick to repent when convicted of sin and able to receive correction from godly leaders. Pray that they will have full faith in God.
- Pray for ministry opportunities, open doors for them to share the gospel. (Read
- Pray that they may bear spiritual fruit.
- Pray that they may minister in the power of the Holy Spirit’s anointing.
- Pray for their protection from unreasonable, evil people and from the enemy.
(Read 2 Thessalonians 3:1–2.)
- When necessary, war for them in the Spirit.
- Pray for their purity and their deliverance from temptation. (Read 1 Corinthians
10:13; 1 John 2:15–17.)
- Pray for their personal character and holiness. (Read 1 Timothy 3:1–11.)
- Pray that they may be people of integrity and accountability.
- Pray for their private devotional life with Christ, that their prayer, Scripture reading and worship will be protected.
- Pray for their physical health and safety, that they would be delivered from sickness and live in health.
- Pray for their families.
- Pray for their mental, spiritual and physical refreshment.