Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. – Romans 10:1 ESV
How many people do you know who are lost, who don’t know Jesus as their personal Savior? We all know someone. We are surrounded by an endless number of individuals who have yet to hear of the good news of salvation made possible by the death of Jesus on the cross. They remain ignorant of the free gift of grace available to them. They don’t know how to be restored to a right relationship with God. They live in the world, blind to their own sin, oblivious to their own eternal destiny and hopeless as to how to do anything about their situation. They search for meaning and significance in this world. They seek to find fulfillment in the things this world offers. Some are religious. Some are good people who have good intentions. Others are prideful, arrogant, boastful, self-righteous and satisfied with their lives just like they are. Paul described some of the people in the word as those “who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10 NLT). Paul told Timothy that the “last days” would be filled with lost people, who he described in very detailed terms: “For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly” (2 Timothy 3:2-5 NLT).
And sadly, we find ourselves surrounded by people who fit those descriptions. But what do we do about it? Paul would suggest that we pray for them. In his letter to the believers in Rome, Paul said that he prayed for the Jews living there. He longed to see them come to faith in Christ. They were his fellow brothers and sisters. He was a Jew who had been saved by Christ and he longed for them to have that same experience. That’s the reason Paul made it a habit to head to the synagogue every time he entered a new town on one of his missionary journeys. He made a bee line to the place where he knew he would come into contact with the greatest number of Jews, and he would share the gospel with them. He prayed and he preached. He lifted them up to God and he brought the message of Jesus to them. And in most cases, his efforts resulted in insults, rejection, and on one occasion, stoning.
But he wouldn’t stop sharing. He couldn’t stop praying that they might be saved. He had a love for the lost. He had a passion for the gospel. He couldn’t stand the thought of even one person not having the opportunity to hear about Christ. His heart’s desire was their salvation. And he turned his heart’s desire into prayers to God on their behalf. He wanted to see God save them. He wanted to see them come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and accept His free gift of salvation. He knew they were relying on their own righteousness and that it wasn’t going to get them anywhere. They needed Jesus. So he shared Jesus with them. But he also prayed for them. Regularly and fervently.
So do you pray for the lost? Do you care about their spiritual condition? Do you understand that the salvation you have received from God was totally undeserved and that you were once in the same condition as all those around you who live without Christ? Paul reminds us, “Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11 NLT). We were lost, but then we heard the good news of Jesus Christ. Someone prayed for us. Someone shared with us. So why wouldn’t we want the same thing for those who have yet to hear? Ask God to give you a burden for the lost. Ask Him to help you to see them as He does. Ask Him to give you a love for them like He has. And pray for them. By name. With persistence and with passion.