I have many lost people on my heart that I hope and pray will one day come to saving knowledge of Jesus. Several of them are family members. And I find that as I pray, I am stuck in the same old rut: Lord, save them. While I believe that God can answer that prayer, I also believe I can pray more intelligently and intentionally for my family and friends.
As with most prayers, we must never stop at praying. No, if I am not willing to take the step of sharing the gospel message with the ones we pray for, then why would we think that God would answer our prayers. As Mark Batterson says in The Circle Maker, we must pray like it all depends on God, and work like it all depends on us. Working in this context is sharing the message of hope that Jesus saves even the most hardened heart that turns to Him in true repentance.
The List for the Lost
- Pray that believers will be brought into their lives. I am currently reading Just Walk Across the Room, by Bill Hybels. In the introduction, he shares a story of a time he shared the message of grace with a total stranger – and the stranger did not accept Jesus as Savior at that time. Who knows? Maybe he did at some future time. The point is that God can arrange the footsteps of believers to intersect with unbelievers in amazing ways if we ask Him and obey Him. While you are praying that believers will be brought into the lives of those for whom you care that are lost, be mindful of the fact that you may be the answer to someone else’s prayer of the exact sort. Acts 16:25, 29-30
- Pray that they will develop friendships with believers, friendships that will provide an open door for sharing the Gospel. While believers are not to have close, intimate relationships with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14), Jesus hung around with sinners and tax collectors frequently (Mark 2:13-17). Therefore, believers – including you and me – need to be developing friendships with unbelievers so that we can share the gospel message. Pray that the believers in these situations will not be opportunistic but will truly be caring friends even if they are not BFFs! Proverbs 27:9-10
- Pray that the hard ground of their hearts will be tilled up by experiences to receive the word. God often uses our experiences to soften our hearts to His word (Jonah 1-2). Pray through these experiences, both good and bad, that the lost person has will open his/her heart to the truth. Hosea 10:12
- Pray that the believers in their lives will exhibit the character of Christ in love, patience, and grace. Pray that they will live according to the Word of God so that the message of their lives does not contradict the message of their words. Hebrews 13:18
- Pray that their hearts will be prepared to receive the Word. Jesus’ parable of the sower tells us that some seed fell on fertile ground. The ground was fertile for several reasons: it was not hard-packed (see #3); it was not overrun with other plants; it was not rocky; it probably was well-watered and fertilized. In short, it was prepared to receive the seed. In the same way the hearts of the lost need to be prepared to receive the word. Matthew 13:1-23
- Pray that the believers they know will have boldness to speak the Word. I have had plenty of opportunities to share the gospel message that I did not take simply because of my fear. Fear of how I would be perceived of how someone might react to me. Fear of losing a friend. Fear of alienating a family member. While I have also shared the gospel in other situations, the times I failed for lack of boldness stick with me. Pray that any believer who crosses path with ‘your’ lost person will have the boldness to share. Ephesians 6:19
- Pray that the believers in their lives will speak the truth in love, not judgment. Christians can be very judgmental at times; this is not a good opening to an evangelistic conversation! Pray that the believers in the lost person’s life will understand that it is God’s place to judge, and his/her place to share in love – because, except for the grace of God, we’d all be there. Ephesians 4:15
- Pray that the believers in their lives will speak the gospel message with clarity. Being bold and loving in sharing the gospel message is great – but not enough. The believer must also share clearly the message of the gospel so that the lost person can understand it. Jesus was very clear, but also clearly understandable, when He said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). We need to be just as clear. Colossians 4:3-4
- Pray that their hearts will not be darkened or entrapped by the spirits of evil or their own sinful desires. 1 John 2:16 says that the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life can easily draw us away into sin. Additionally, we know that the “devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8. These are two powerful enemies of the gospel that we must pray against while we are praying for the salvation of another. Ephesian 4:17-19
- Pray that the cares of the world will not choke out the Word of God in their lives. We all know that life is busy – so busy that there is seldom time to stop and consider matters of eternal significance. Pray that there will be time for the lost person to consider his/her eternity. Matthew 13:22
- Pray that the allure of wealth and riches will not blind them to the true riches found in Christ. Jesus said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:25). Pray that your lost person will not be trapped by the wealth of the world. Matthew 19:16-24
- Pray that a door will be opened to believers in their lives to speak – that circumstances will open opportunities to share the gospel. If the great apostle Paul thought the praying for an opportunity to share the gospel was important, how much more do we need to pray for such an opportunity? Colossians 4:3
- Pray that the believers who are in a position to share the gospel with them will also be faithful to pray for them. Sharing the gospel is pointless without prayer – which is why you are praying for the lost people you know and care about. But the more, the merrier, as they say! Anyone who is sharing with a lost person should be praying for that person – pray that is the case. Romans 12:12
- Pray for conviction in their hearts over their sin, even if they are “good” people. This is a huge stumbling block for many people who, if they could just understand sin, would probably come to Christ immediately. Overcoming the idea that God weighs our lives in a big balance, and if the good outweighs the bad, then you’re in – that is a priority in sharing the gospel with “good” people. 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5
- Pray that God will be glorified in the response of the lost to the gospel message. The angels in heaven rejoice over one sinner who repents. How much more should we? If your lost person gets saved, be sure the glory goes where it belongs: to God. Philippians 1:9-11
- Pray that God’s protection will be on His children who are faithfully sharing the gospel with the lost for whom you are praying. Anyone who is sharing the gospel message with the lost is in Satan’s crosshairs. Praying for their protection as they share is simply the right thing to do. Johan 17:9, 15; 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5
- Pray that God will remove their heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh. Although the verse in Ezekiel refers to the nation of Israel, the principle applies to all people. God will replace a hardened stone-like heart with a soft one, for any person who accepts Jesus as Savior by admitting his/her sin. Ezekiel 36:26; 2 Corinthians 3:3
- Pray that God will add the lost you are praying for to the numbers of the saved. While this might seem obvious, simply praying that the person you are praying for will indeed get saved is a point that cannot be forgotten! Acts 2:42-47
- Pray for true repentance that leads to salvation in the hearts of the lost. Like point #18, this is so obvious, it might be overlooked. True salvation comes from someone recognizing his/her sinfulness and repenting of sin. Repentance is not the same thing as remorse. Judas felt remorse over betraying Jesus, but he wasn’t saved. I have known people who felt great remorse over their lives, but never had the soft heart or the understanding to truly repent and commit their hearts and lives to Jesus. Repentance is also not the same thing as salvation – for that one must personally accept the forgiveness that only comes from Jesus. Acts 8:22-23
- Praise Jesus for the privilege of praying for the lost person or persons you care about, and pray that you will be faithful, however long it takes. 1 Corinthians 4:2
If you are faithful to pray and share with the lost ones among your family and friends, I believe that God can and will answer the prayers listed here. If you are faithful to pray, but don’t know how to share the gospel message, contact your pastor and ask for help. It is the type of help all the pastors I’ve ever known are eager to give – because there is nothing more important than bringing people to a life-changing relationship with Jesus! Want the PDF for this list? Be sure you’ve signed up for my emails, and it’ll be sent out soon.