Praying for the Lost

Have you ever prayed for someone who was “lost?”  Maybe this was a coworker with a hard heart, a family member who was living in sin, or a friend who had turned his back on the church and the Lord.

As Christians, it is our duty to pray for those who do not know and love the Lord. In the Bible, we are instructed many times to do just that:

  • Romans 10:1 - Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. {emphasis added}
  • Matthew 9:37-38 - Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” {emphasis added}
  • James 5:13-26 - Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.  And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. {emphasis added}

In a recent study (ICM, 2014) conducted by the Institute for Church Ministry, Adventist young people were asked if they often pray for the salvation of others.  Fifty-five percent of respondents said that this statement was “always” or “often” true.  For an additional 29% of young people, this statement was “sometimes” true.  However, for the remaining 16%, this statement was “rarely” or “never” true.

Why are our young people not praying for each other?  Our culture is a culture of entitlement.  The devil is intent on keeping us distracted, even if only by focusing us on ourselves.  It can be extremely hard to think about the needs of others – specifically spiritual needs – when we are only looking at ourselves.  If this is true for us adults, think how much harder it is for our youth!

Because of this, we must work with our young people, teaching them to look outside of themselves and instilling in them the importance of prayer.  The websiteInsight: Resources for Christian Youth Ministry and Leadership has some fantastic, creative ideas to facilitate prayer for others.

  • Prayers in a hat.  Ask everyone in the group to write their name or the name of someone that needs prayer, along with a brief description of specific prayer needs on a piece of paper, and put it inside of the hat.  Pass around the hat and ask each person to draw a piece of paper.  Encourage them to pray for the person on their paper in the coming week.
  • The “people cross.” Ask each young person and leader to write the name of a friend, work colleague, or family member for whom they wish to pray on a piece of paper.  Lay the papers on the floor in the shape of a cross.  The group should then encircle the cross and pray for the person they named.  Prayers may be spoken aloud as part of a group prayer or be said silently.
  • Prayer walk.  Invite the youth of your church to participate in a prayer walk in your neighborhood or town.  As you walk, encourage your youth to take note of particular homes, shops, schools, and people for whom they would like to pray.  Discuss the possible needs of these situations.  If you choose, you can lead the group in prayer while there, or pray when you return to the church.  (While this option may seem less personal, it encourages the youth to think outside themselves and pray for others in a unique way.)

(For the complete list of suggestions, check out: http://insight.typepad.co.uk/insight/2008/07/praying-for-others.html.)

Jesus’ return draws closer by the day.  Even if we consider ourselves “ready,” we must be doing all we can to reach those who may not know Him yet!