Praying for the Lost

26 February 2023 AM – Romans 10:1 – Prayer – Scott Childs
Introduction: How many of you have a close relative who does not know Christ as far as you can tell? __ How many of you have a distant relative without Christ? __ Without asking, I know that each of us has neighbours who do not know the Lord. We ought to be burdened for their salvation. You can influence them by your life and your prayers. Illustration: Your life is like a magnet, some are attracted, but not all.
            God will not force anyone to trust Him. Each person must make that choice himself or herself. However, the Apostle Paul believed that his prayers could make a difference. Thus, we read in Romans 10:1…
Transition: As we examine how Paul prayed for the lost, we can learn how to pray more effectively for the lost ourselves.
1.        Paul prayed with a passion
a.         Paul prayed with desire
1)         He first mentioned his heart’s desire.
2)         The word Paul used describes his delight, his satisfaction, or his pleasure. He was not just reading a prayer or repeating worn out words. He was expressing the passion of his heart.
3)         His desire was so passionate that he even wished to go to hell for his relatives, but that was not possible (Read Romans 9:1-3).
4)         His desire was a reflection of God’s desire.
a)         (Acts 26:18) God sent Paul “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
b)         (1 Timothy 2:4) “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
c)         (2 Peter 3:9) “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
d)         Now compare these statements of God’s will with 1 John 5:14-15. “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.
e)         God will not force anyone to trust Him, but that is His will, and we must pray to that end.
b.         Our prayer for the lost must be passionate.
1)         If you do not have a passion and true desire in your heart for the salvation of unbelievers in your life, ask God to give you one. Ask God to break your heart for those whom you love who do not yet know Christ.
2)         Sadly, if they have heard the gospel and have not yet trusted Christ for salvation when Christ returns, they will miss heaven and spend eternity in hell. If that does not tear at your heart, read again the account of the Rich man in hell in Luke 16. That rich man once in hell prayed passionately for his five unbelieving brothers. (Luke 16:27-28) “Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
2.        Paul prayed with a longing
a.         He begged God
1)         The word “prayed” described his seeking, asking and entreaty to God. He longed for God to answer.
2)         He did not fret and worry. He entreated God on behalf of others.
3)         In Matthew 9:37-38, Jesus said to His disciples, “ The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.
b.         We, too, must beg to God
1)         If you have lost loved ones, every day, without fail, you ought to entreat God to save their souls. Jesus promised in John 16:8, “And when he [the Holy Spirit] is come, he will reprove [convict] the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:” Ask the Holy Spirit to do his promised work in the hearts of your loved ones.
2)         It is rather hypocritical of us to pray that the Lord will send out labourers to reach our dear lost loved ones if we are not letting our light shine before them and lovingly keeping the gospel before them. Pray for boldness and open hearts. The Apostle Paul wrote in (Ephesians 6:19) “And [pray] for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,
3.        Paul prayed specifically.
a.         He prayed specifically for Israel
1)         It is true that he prayed for Israel as a nation, but specifically for Israel, his people.
2)         Paul frequently prayed for individuals. His letters indicate that he knew and prayed for many people by name.
b.         We, too, ought to pray specifically
1)         Do not just pray generically for your unbelieving family by praying something like, “Lord, please save my lost family members.” Name them individually to the Lord each day.
2)         Remember that the rich man in hell specifically prayed for his FIVE brothers. Though he did not name them in the text, he did number them.
3)         Ask the Holy Spirit to open each of their hearts.
4)         I find that it helps to keep a list of lost people for whom I am praying.
4.        Paul prayed with a purpose
a.         Paul’s purpose was their salvation
1)         He longed for them to be saved. He prayed earnestly for them to trust Christ.
2)         His prayers may have included other needs, but his passion and purpose focused on salvation.
a)         Paul knew that being religious would not save any of his loved ones from hell (v.2).
b)         He knew that depending on personal righteousness and refusing to submit to God’s righteousness cannot save (v.3)
c)         He preached clearly that doing good cannot save anyone from damnation. (Ephesians 2:8-9) “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
b.         The purpose of our prayers must be clear.
1)         We must not be like Jonah who preached judgment to come but had no desire, passion or purpose for his listeners to be saved.
2)         Our loved ones who do not yet know Christ will be eternally separated from God in hell if they do not trust Christ. We must let that grip our hearts and stir us to pray with a purpose.
3)         Zero in on THIS, their greatest need, when you pray. Ask God to open their hearts as He opened Lydia’s heart (Acts 16:14).
4)         Ask God to help you to live a consistently godly life before your lost loved ones. Ask Him to help you guard your words, attitudes and actions. Beg Him to enable you to let your light shine before your loved ones. Make this a HIGH priority in your life.
a)         First, we owe this loyalty to Christ. We are to live for His glory.
b)         Second, we dare not give our loved ones an excuse for rejecting Christ. Instead, our lives must act like magnets to attract them to Christ.
Conclusion: Paul prayed with a passion. He prayed with a longing. He prayed specifically. Finally, he prayed with a purpose. His example is an excellent one for us to follow.
Each of us has a relative, friend or neighbour who has not yet trusted Christ to save him or her from hell and give them eternal life. That person needs YOUR prayers.
Many in our congregation have close family members who have not yet trusted Christ. Do you know who they are? Do you pray for them regularly? This is a very important ministry that you can have.
Song: Give Me a Passion for Souls – 306
At 11:__, I invite you to join me up here in the front to pray for relatives.