Praying for the Lost

Praying for the Lost

We just completed Vacation Bible School. It was a lot of work. Were any lost souls saved? Instead of looking at VBS as being over, let’s consider the work to have just begun. We had some unchurched, possibly unsaved people attend VBS and the closing program. We prayed, asking God to send them. He did. Now what are we going to do? Unless we put into practice what we have been learning about seeking and being led by the Holy Spirit in prayer, and about spiritual warfare, we will have wasted all this effort last week in VBS.

Look at our prayer list. One portion of it has lots of names for salvation. These are such important prayer requests, we need to learn how to pray the lost. Once we fully understand the Word, we can pray with confidence and effectiveness.

If we want the lost saved, we need to stop thinking of them as rebellious people, getting what they deserve. Think of them from God’s perspective: a helpless lost sheep, who needs the Good Shepherd. Realize we are in a battle for their souls. That is the only reason we are still here!

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 

We can be sure that when we pray for people’s salvation, we are praying according to God’s Word and His Will!

1 Tim 2:3-6 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men--the testimony given in its proper time.

When we pray for the lost, God hears our prayers and will answer them.

1 John 5:14-15 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us--whatever we ask--we know that we have what we asked of him.

So, why are some people still lost? Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. It is Satan who is blinding their mind to the Truth.

1 Corinthians 2:14 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.

2 Corinthians 4:3-4 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

If you have been complaining about your lost loved one, stop it! Stop saying your family member is “stubborn, set in their ways, or hard-headed.” You are agreeing with the enemy, who is making them that way. Your words really have much more power than you realize. Instead, confess the Word of God and go to war against the enemy who is influencing them.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

The “strongholds” set up against the unsaved are called “arguments and lofty opinions raised against the knowledge of God”. Faith in Jesus Christ is considered superstition by the unsaved. Worldly people consider faith in Jesus Christ as something for the backward, the uneducated, and the weak who need a crutch to make it in life. The unsaved surround themselves with others who think like them and consider themselves to be the enlightened and the elite in this world.

However, we have a lot of weapons. The Word of God, the Name of Jesus, the power of the Holy Spirit, prayer, praise, and the truth spoken in love can bring down these strongholds.

Luke 10:19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.

This battle is not against flesh and blood, but against demonic spirits who have blinded the lost to the truth about Jesus Christ. Have you ever bound these spirits from blinding them? I can safely that most Christians would answer, “No, am I supposed to?”

Well, if we don’t, who will? We have authority, in the Name of Jesus Christ, to bind the spirits that blind the unsaved to understanding the truth. We can also loose the spirit of the unsaved to receive the grace of God that brings conviction, faith, repentance, deliverance, and salvation through Jesus Christ.

Matthew 18:18 "I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 

Before you pray for the lost, take authority over the demonic spirits affecting the unsaved person. It may seem awkward to you at first since you aren’t accustomed to doing it, but so was prayer when you first began to pray. As with praying, let the Holy Spirit lead you.

For example, let’s call our lost person “John”. We might declare something like this, “In the Name of Jesus Christ: Satan, I break your power over John’s life! I loose John from your bondage to receive deliverance and salvation through Jesus Christ!”

Don’t spend a lot of time talking to the devil. Take authority over him in Jesus’ Name and get ready to pray some specific and effective prayers. Since faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God, ask God to give the lost person ears to hear and eyes to see the truth about Jesus Christ. Pray also for their heart to be soft and ready to receive the Truth of the Gospel.

Luke 8:15 But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.

Now that the enemy is bound, the person is loosed from the darkness, and we have prayed for them to have the ability to hear the Gospel and believe it, pray that the Lord of the Harvest sends laborers across their path.

Matthew 9:37-38 Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field."

If you have not already found out, you will probably find out soon that most people who are close to you (especially your own family) do not want you to preach to them. Do not worry. Jesus said a prophet is not accepted in his own community. God has other laborers who can reach them. Pray that God sends them to your family or friends.

Now, there are special instructions for wives of unsaved husbands. Unless you follow these instructions, you are hindering your prayers and the salvation of your husband.

1 Peter 3:1-6 Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. 

Wives, are you submissive to your husband or do you nag, disobey, and manipulate to get your own way? Do you argue, whine, cry, or get angry and withhold your affection from him until your husband agrees with you? Are you relying on your outward appearance to influence him or are you trying to cultivate a gentle quiet spirit to make yourself beautiful to your husband? Are you trying to evangelize your husband by making him feel guilty, or do you show him reverence and respect regardless of his relationship with Christ? You cannot be the Holy Spirit to your husband, but you can show him the fruit of the Spirit. Obey the Word, reverence your husband. Do not fear losing control. Give your husband and your situation to God. Pray for him, bind the enemy, submit to your husband, and watch God fulfill His Word.

There are also special instructions for husbands with unsaved wives. Unless you follow these instructions, you are hindering your prayers and the salvation of your wife.

1 Peter 3:7 Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

Husbands, your prayers for your wife’s salvation will be hindered if you are mistreating her, not loving her, and not sharing the Word with gentleness and kindness. Have you been harsh, angry, impatient, or a tyrant with your wife? Have you been selfish and spent family income on yourself instead of making her feel secure? Have you been demanding your needs be met instead of trying to meet her needs? Do you give up your life for her as Christ gave His life for the Church? God says to show her some R-E-S-P-E-C-T. You cannot be the Holy Spirit for her, but you can show her the fruit of the Spirit. Love her as you love your own body. Pray for her, bind the enemy, and watch God fulfill His Word.

If you are not obeying these Scriptures, you must repent because you are aiding the enemy in keeping your spouse in darkness. After you repent, you have authority to bind the enemy and pray for your spouse to have the ability to hear the Gospel and believe it.

Likewise, if you have unforgiveness toward anyone, you must repent and forgive before you can pray for their salvation. Otherwise, you have no authority to bind the enemy and pray for that person, because the enemy has you bound with bitterness.

After you are walking in obedience to the Word and the Holy Spirit, you can bind the enemy and loose the person’s spirit to hear the Gospel. Now you are ready to pray. Pray for the ability to hear and believe the Gospel and continue with something like this, “Father, in Jesus’ Name, please send laborers across John’s path. May the laborers be honest, full of wisdom, and full of the Holy Spirit. Surround John with the Gospel and open his eyes, so he will see how much You love him! Give him grace to believe. Convict him of sin, righteousness, and judgment. And give him grace to repent and a desire to give his life to you.”

Having believed and acted according to God’s will and the authority He gave us in Jesus Christ, having bound the enemy and loosed the spirit of the unsaved to receive the grace of God to believe, and having prayed for them to hear the Gospel through a Holy Spirit filled believer, give thanks to God for the salvation He has provided for the lost! Praise the Lord even before you see the answer to your prayer. Any time you think of that person, thank God He’s heard your prayer and is bringing about the answer!

Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

It takes faith to thank God before you see the answer! However, this is what pleases God.

Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

If the answer is long in coming or if the demonic spirits seem to make the unsaved person’s behavior worse, consider prayer and fasting to aid in the person’s deliverance. I won’t try to explain it now, but you will be surprised how much fasting helps.

Matthew 17:21 (NKJV) However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting."

Lastly, be ready to share Jesus with someone who is ready to listen. You may be the laborer someone is praying for God to send! Tell people what Jesus has done for you. Tell them about Jesus and His love for them.

Romans 10:14-15 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"

The Good News is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Share the Word with them. Don’t make them a project. Show the love of Jesus to them. When they are ready, let them know what they must do to be saved.

Acts 2:36-40 Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ." When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off--for all whom the Lord our God will call.” With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation."