I'm being a little sarcastic here to prove a point. So much of our praying in church today is focused on the physical and temporal needs of people. If people are healed, if they are provided for, if their temporal needs are met while their greatest need - salvation - is neglected, then what profit is our praying to them?
Paul said of Israel in Romans 10:1 ESV , "Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved." He was so burdened for their salvation that he said, "...I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh." "Romans 9:3 ESV"
That is a heavy burden.
Would you be willing, if it were possible, to forsake your own salvation in order to see others saved? In case you were wondering, my answer to that question is: no comment.
We should be burdened for the salvation of people. This is especially true when you consider their spiritual condition apart from Christ. The bible says that people apart from Christ are...
- Matthew 15:24 – LOST.
- 2nd Corinthians 4:3-4 – BLIND.
- 2nd Timothy 2:25-26 - BOUND.
- John 3:18 - CONDEMNED.
- John 3:36 - DESTINED FOR HELL.
- John 6:44 - HELPLESS.
- Ephesians 2:12 - WITHOUT HOPE.
Here are a few ways that you can start a ministry of praying for the lost in your church...
Begin an Operation Celebration ministry in your church. (This is also known as Operation Andrew.) This is a list praying method. You begin praying for lost people by name on a daily basis. Download the training manual and the Operation Celebration brochure from our website. It is free.
Fishbowl Fishing - During prayer meeting, have people write the names of their lost friends and relatives on slips of paper. Collect them in a fishbowl and place them on the altar. During each prayer meeting, have people take a slip from the fishbowl and pray for that person(s) by name. Return the names to the bowl and keep praying for them at every prayer meeting until the person comes to faith in Christ.
Prayer Triplets - This is a variation of the list praying method. Find three people to partner with. Each person identifies three people that need Christ and begin praying for them by name as a group. If possible, find a time to meet together each week for prayer.
Prayerwalking - Prayer walk your neighborhood specifically to pray for the salvation of lost neighbors. If you don't know your neighbors by name, collect their addresses and use a service like www.411.com to do reverse address look ups. For the most part, it should give you the names of the people in your neighborhood. (For those living in the USA)
I would love to hear your suggestions on how to pray for the lost by name. You can list them in the comments section. Most importantly, pray for people who need Jesus as part of your daily walk with Christ. J. Sidlow Baxter said, "...men may spurn our appeals, reject our message, oppose our arguments, despise our persons - but they are helpless against our prayers."