Praying for the Lost
Bible Reading: Romans 10:1-9
George Mueller (1805–1898) is widely considered one the greatest men of prayer in the history of the church. We know him best today for his orphanages. Through his orphanage in Bristol, Mueller cared for as many as two thousand orphans at a time—more than ten thousand in his lifetime. Yet he never made the needs of his ministries known to anyone except to God in prayer. And over and over again God answered his prayers and provided in miraculous fashion.
One day George Mueller began praying for five of his friends. After many months, one of them came to the Lord. Ten years later, two others were converted. It took 25 years before the fourth man was saved. Mueller persevered in prayer until his death for the fifth friend, and throughout those 52 years he never gave up hoping that he would accept Christ! His faith was rewarded, for soon after Mueller’s funeral the last one was saved.
We are in good company in praying for the lost. Jesus was praying for the lost from the cross when He said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Stephen was praying for the lost when he was being stoned, saying, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (Acts 7:60). Saul was there and eventually trusted in Jesus. He likewise prayed for the lost, saying, “Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them (his Jewish brethren) is that they might be saved” (Romans 10:1; 9:1-3).
It has been my experience that behind every testimony of how someone has come to faith in Jesus is the reality that there was at least one person praying for them. I know of three who were praying for me before I was saved. To be sure, there’s a mystery to how God works through prayers in the salvation of souls, but we are on safe theological ground in praying this way. We are urged to make “supplications, prayers, intercession, and thanksgivings” …for all people” (1 Timothy 2:1). We do so knowing that “God desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). We know, of course, that not all men will be saved, but we are nonetheless praying well when we are praying according to God’s desires.
How should we pray for the lost? They will not come to Him until they recognize their need, so we pray that the Spirit might work to convict them of their sins (John 16:8). The “god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 4:4), so we pray that their eyes might be opened to the truth of the gospel. Lydia was saved when “God opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul” (Acts 16:14). We can pray likewise. We can pray that they will come to realize how futile life is apart from God (1 Peter 1:18). And that they might realize that their current path is one that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13). Put yourself in the place of those men who carried the paralytic to where Jesus was, letting him down through the roof. They had one concern–get their friend to Jesus! And so, it is when we pray for the lost! God’s part is to save, but He privileges us to pray and uses our prayers in a mysterious way. Pray that God might burden you to pray for someone, then keep on praying as George Muller did for his friends. Perhaps you’ve a list of unsaved family members and others you are praying for, don’t lose heart and grow weary in that vital and important work! You are in good company in praying for the lost!
“We will only advance in our evangelistic work as fast and as far as we advance on our knees. Prayer opens the channel between a soul and God; prayerlessness closes it. Prayer releases the grip of Satan’s power; prayerlessness increases it. That is why prayer is so exhausting and so vital.” – Alan Redpath
LORD, LAY SOME SOUL UPON MY HEART
Lord, lay some soul upon my heart,
And love that soul through me;
And may I bravely do my part
To win that soul for Thee.
Chorus: Some soul for Thee, some soul for Thee,
This is my earnest plea;
Help me each day, on life’s highway,
To win some soul for Thee.
Lord, lead me to some soul in sin,
And grant that I may be
Endued with power and love to win
That soul, dear Lord, for Thee (Chorus)
To win that soul for Thee, my Lord,
Will be my constant prayer;
That when I’ve won Thy full reward
I’ll with that dear one share (Chorus)