On Miscellaneous Subjects
By Pastor Ron Thomas
Rodgers Baptist Church
801 West Buckingham Rd. - Garland, TX 75040
Text: Romans 9:1-3. “I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost,
2 That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart.
3 For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.”
Romans 10:1-3. “Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.
2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
3 For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.”
Introduction: As Paul said in I Corinthians 3:9, we are “...laborers together with God.” This partnership is obviously revealed in our prayer life. In a real and powerful way, prayer connects us with the unlimited presence and power of God. We have a God who says, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” As our Senior partner in heaven, God wants us to connect with Him in prayer. By ourselves, we can do nothing. With God, we can do all things!
The other day I came across a prayer request on the internet. It was posted by a woman in Australia, August 19, 2008. This dear lady was asking everyone to pray for a baby whale that had lost it’s mother. Apparently, the confused creature was wandering around Australian waters by itself, looking for it’s mother, when it connected itself to a Yacht. That’s right! The baby whale mistakenly thought the Yacht was it's mother. Unfortunately, the Yacht had no milk for the baby whale which would die, if it didn't find it's mother, or another mother willing to care for it. This lady was deeply moved, and asked that God would perform a miracle to save the baby whale.
The Bible instructs us not to worry or “be anxious” about anything, and to instead pray about everything. Baby whales surely qualify, being God’s creatures. If God knows when the smallest sparrow falls, He can be concerned about a baby whale. But what about the human babies that are slaughtered everyday on the altar of a mother’s perceived rights over her body? Sometimes our passions and concerns are misguided at best.
It seems that most Christians call upon God for many things such as health needs, financial needs, family crisis, relationships, but what about praying for the lost? Do you personally know anyone who is lost? If so, do you pray often or at all for their salvation? There needs to be a revival among God’s people regarding evangelistic prayer. There needs to be a revival among Christians, who pray faithfully and fervently for the conviction and salvation of lost men, women, boys and girls. History reveals that there has never been a great movement of God’s Holy Spirit upon the unsaved, without agonizing prayer. The three thousand souls saved on the day of Pentecost followed Acts 1:14, where it says, “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication.”
When parents are praying for their children, and children are praying for their parents; when wives are praying for their husbands, and husbands are praying for their wives; when Sunday school teachers are praying for their students, and young people are praying for their friends; When the whole church is praying for the salvation of the unsaved, then God will begin to stir hearts and draw the lost to faith in Jesus Christ! The day of God’s saving power, comes on the heels of prevailing prayer.
In Romans 10:1, the apostle Paul said, “Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.” Paul prayed for Israel, his kinsman in the flesh or unbelieving Jews. He payed that God would save them, just like He saves lost Gentiles! All men need to be saved! All men can be saved. No one can save themselves! We cannot save other people. Only God can save! In John 6:44 Jesus said, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.” We must pray for the lost, pray evangelistically, but how? Based upon the passionate plea of the apostle Paul in our text passages, we can learn:
How To Pray For The Salvation Of The Lost
First: Pray for the lost, out of a heart of compassion and love. What about your compassion level? How much compassion do you have toward people who are not your favorite kind of people? Do you have a tendency to be unsympathetic when people repeat mistakes or do things they know are wrong or bad for them? Jesus told the story of the good Samaritan for this very reason. Everyday our compassion level is tested by God!
In Romans 9:2 Paul says, “That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart.” Paul carried a heavy burden and felt a continual anguish in his heart, over the spiritual condition of his people the Jews. In Romans 10:1 he tells us that his “heart’s desire,” is for Israel to be saved! Why? Paul was himself a Jew. He was of the tribe of Benjamin. Paul had a flesh and blood connection with the Jewish brethren. He knew their culture; he knew the way they thought; and he knew their religious, spiritual bondage!
It was the same for Jesus. When Jesus began His earthly ministry, He first sent His disciples to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Just before His passion, Jesus wept in prayer over their rejection of the gospel, which set in motion the coming destruction of Jerusalem. If you want to get to know someone intimately, listen to his or her payers. It is certainly the case with Jesus. Listen to Jesus pray in Matthew 23:37. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” Jesus prayed with a heart of compassion and love for the lost! His heart was broken for the people of Jerusalem!
Paul could pray with a heart of compassion for the lost, both Jew and Gentile, because he knew it was God’s desire to save the lost. When you pray for your lost friends and loved ones, you can be sure that you are touching the very heart and desire of God for the world! God loves the world. Jesus loves the little children of the world, red and yellow black and white, they are precious in His sight; every color, every race, they are covered by His grace! In I Timothy 2, Paul instructs Timothy to pray to God for the lost, “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” Peter in II Peter 3:9b speaks of a God who is, “longsuffering...not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
We must begin to pray with a heart of compassion and love for those in our lives who do not know Jesus Christ. If we do not possess a love and concern for the lost, then we must pray that God would put that love in our hearts! Do you ever pray for a heart of compassion for the lost? Perhaps you are too wrapped up in your own world. When you love your neighbor as yourself, you will want him or her to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
Second: Pray for the lost with a sense of holy fear. In Romans 9:3, Paul says, “For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.” If he could, Paul would sacrifice himself, be cut off from Jesus Christ for all eternity, if it would result in the salvation of his people, the Jews. Ultimately to be cursed and cut off from Jesus Christ, means to be cast into hell itself. Paul is in a sense saying, that if he could, he would swap places with his unbelieving brethren!
In Exodus 32, we find that after the episode with the golden calf, Israel faced the impending judgment of a righteous God. What did Moses do? He interceded for them! Moses was willing to allow God to blot out his name from the book of life, if it could secure God’s forgiveness for his people! Moses pleads with God in verse 32, “Yet now, if Thou wilt forgive their sin--; and if not, blot me, I pray Thee, out of Thy book which Thou hast written.” Both Moses and Paul prayed for their people, because they realized and feared the consequences of rejecting God’s sacrifice for sin!
Hell is a real place! It is a place of no escape and no return. In Luke 16, Jesus spoke of a man who was rich in this world’s goods, but impoverished when it came to God’s grace. This man had no concern or compassion for anyone but himself. When he died, it says in verse 21, “...in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments.” Finding himself in hell, this man suddenly had compassion and concern for five brothers who were headed in the same direction and for the same destination!
relationship with Christ. Most Christians today won’t give up their place in line at the store for a stranger. God places you in situations everyday, to meet people needing Him! Do you have eyes to see? We must realize that Hell is for real, and for eternity. If we do, then we will not want our friends, family members or neighbors to go there.
Third: Pray for the lost with a desire and willingness to be used by God on their behalf. Romans 10:2-3 says, “For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” Paul’s people the Jews suffered from a lack of knowledge. They were ignorant when it came to righteousness. The Greek word that we translate as “righteous” is dikaios. It speaks of doing the right thing, or conforming to an established standard. When my wife makes our bed, or we make it together, it must meet her standard of rightness. I am satisfied with it before she is! When I am home alone, I might not make the bed at all, or if I do, it will not meet her standard of rightness.
Righteousness is the condition of being in right standing or relationship with God. The Jews had a zeal for knowing God and being accepted by God, but it was based on their own righteousness, their own standard of what was acceptable. This was a problem because there is absolutely no way a sinful man can measure up to an infinitely holy God! The Bible teaches that all of us, both Jews and Gentiles, have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Isaiah 64:6 tells us that our own righteousness is as “filthy rags” before God. No one who is trusting in his or her own goodness, can have a relationship with God or be accepted by God. We must have a righteousness that exceeds anything we could ever produce through our own effort.
This is where Jesus comes in. The Lord Jesus and His righteousness is the standard by which everyone is measured by God in order to have relationship with Him. Jesus, the virgin born, Son of God, is completely sinless, pure, and holy, and therefore is able to not only have a relationship with the Heavenly Father, but to be in union with Him. Jesus Christ by His sinless life, atoning death the cross, and bodily resurrection, has made a way for us to not only have relationship with God, but to be in union with God. Peter tells us that Jesus came to “bring us to God!”
This is where Paul comes in. Paul was willing to put his feet, voice, and whole being into his prayers. He prayed with a willing heart and surrendered life, a heart and life that was committed to pointing a lost world to Jesus Christ! We see this in II Corinthians 5:20-21. In verse 20, Paul portrays himself and all believers as an “ambassadors” representatives for Jesus Christ in this world! As representatives, we are to continually shout with our lives and our lips to a lost world, “Be reconciled to God! Be reconciled with God!” In verse 21 Paul shouts, “For He (God) hath made Him (Jesus Christ) to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (in Jesus Christ).”
This is where you come in! You must be willing to become a part of the solution! You must be willing to go, to share, to pray, to influence people all around us for Christ. What are you willing to do, to sacrifice, so that people can be saved? Are you willing to be a part of the solution? You must pray everyday, “Lord, open my eyes and make my heart sensitive to a lost world today. Give me an opportunity to speak to someone about their need of Jesus Christ!”
Fourth: Pray for the lost with faith, believing in the power of prayer. Romans 10:1 says, “Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.” Paul prayed to God concerning the lost, because he knew that prayer could accomplish great and mighty things! Prayer often succeeds when all else has failed. We know that prayers according to God's will, are answered. Our prayers for the lost are powerful to accomplish several things.
Prayer is powerful to transform your own heart. Evangelistic prayer grows from a heart that is burdened. A genuine prayer for the lost is evidence of a personal burden, a concern and desire to see someone saved. When we fail to pray for the lost, it is evidence that we do not care! Prayer can prepare us to do our part in the evangelism of the lost. We have each been called, commissioned and empowered to be witnesses. Prayer is where we begin!
Prayer is powerful to move God on behalf of the lost. Evangelistic prayer entreats the power and invokes the intervention of God. As believers, we cannot open anyone’s heart or change anyone’s mind. Acts 16:14 tells us of an influential business woman named Lydia of the city of Thyatira, “..whose heart the Lord opened.” This woman was saved and baptized because God opened her heart and ears to the gospel preached by Paul. If you read verse 13, you will discover that Paul had previously led in a prayer meeting on the river bank! Do you think they had prayed for the lost people in Philippi? Only God can do these things.
Prayer is powerful to hinder Satan. The apostle Paul in II Corinthians 10 reminds us that as believers, we possess spiritual weapons that are “...mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds.” The word “stronghold” speaks of a fortress. It is an area in which the enemy is entrenched. Sin and Satan can become entrenched in an area of a person’s life. Prayer is powerful to remove such strongholds in people’s lives!
We know that Satan is actively working in this world to blind the minds of the lost, lest they believe. Prayer can actually limit Satan’s influence and hold on the hearts and minds of the lost. As Abraham interceded for Lot and his family living in Sodom, we must intercede for our lost friends who are being held under Satan’s influence and power. You can pray that they could be released from distracting people and influences. You can pray for them to be set free from addictions. You can pray that God would remove obstacles that Satan has placed in the way of their coming to church or coming to Jesus Christ.
Prayer is powerful to open the heart and mind of an unbeliever. This is why Satan will keep you busy and distracted, not thinking about others or praying for them. Prayer is the only way we have of asking God to move in someone's life and heart. This is not so much spiritual manipulation from a distance, but You can team up with God for their salvation!
Pray that God would orchestrate events and people in the lives of the lost, who would provoke them to stop and consider eternity.
Pray that God will make them curious about spiritual things, overcoming apathy with regard to the truth.
Pray that God will surround them with other influential witnessing Christians. Pray that they will feel absolutely surrounded and unable to escape from God’s convicting, convincing power!
Pray that God will help your lost friend or loved one to clearly grasp that he or she is really sinful. Unless there is a clear perception of sin, there can be no true repentance from sin.
In his autobiography, George Mueller, the famous 19th century Christian evangelist who established orphanages in Bristol, England, and cared for 10,024 orphans writes: “I am now, in 1864, waiting upon God for certain blessings, for which I have daily besought Him for nineteen years and six months, without one day's intermission. Still the full answer is not yet given concerning the conversion of certain individuals. In the meantime, I have received many thousands of answers to prayer. I have also prayed daily, without intermission, for the conversion of other individuals about ten years, for others six or seven years, for others four, three, and two years, for others about eighteen months; and still the answer is not yet granted, concerning these persons for whom I have prayed for nineteen years and six months. Yet I am daily continuing in prayer and expecting the answer.”
As a believer, you must be reminded if not convinced again, that prayer is powerful and effective in the salvation of the lost! Are you praying for the lost? Do you care? Are you willing to pray the compassionate prayer? God still hears and answers the compassionate prayer! God’s looking for a compassionate heart that voices it’s burden in prayer! Will you make a difference in your world? Will you make a difference in your church? You must pray!