Pray for the Lost

Pray for the Harvest

I’ve got a question for you. When you read the following verse, what do you feel?

“Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field’” (Matt. 9:37–38).

Do you feel urgency? Do you feel responsibility? Do you feel the need to pray, pray, and pray some more?

If your answer to these questions is yes, that’s great! If your answer is no, we have a little work to do. I think I fall somewhere in between.

There’s been a theme in my life lately of God telling me to pray more. I don’t spend enough time in prayer, and when I do, it’s too often self-centered, even if that’s not my intention. What I really need to double-down on is praying for the lost. Sure, it’s easy to pray for things I’m worried about; it’s a little less but still important to me to pray for other people’s worries and fears. But how often do I think to pray for the lost? Specifically, how often do I pray for someone I personally know who is lost?

Step 1: Prayer

As much as I hate to admit it, many times my prayers closely resemble the Christmas lists I used to mail to Santa as a child—a list of very selfish wants and needs. While my requests to God have matured just as I have, they still very often revolve around me: “Lord, help me focus so I can ace this test,” or “give me the patience to deal with my co-workers.”

When I do extend my circle of prayer, it is usually to include my friends and family who I know have a relationship with Jesus Christ. But what about those who don’t? Why is it so important to pray for those who don’t yet know of God’s love, and how do we do it?

God is working in people’s lives long before they hear the gospel. That work continues with our prayers. It is the catalyst that ignites the desire to know God. When spreading the gospel, we are engaging in spiritual warfare. Prayer is one of the greatest weapons we have when fighting the enemy (Eph. 6:16–18).

Praying God’s Heart

Prayer is such a privilege. How amazing that we as humans are gifted with a connection to God, the ability to communicate with Him. What a mystery that the Creator of the universe somehow hears us. He listens to our concerns, our hurts, our dreams. He hears what is on our hearts. And He responds.

What about Him? What is on His heart?

Plan a Prayer for the Nations Night

Antarctica. That was what was printed on the folded-up sheet of paper I pulled from the cup on a small-group retreat once, and we all had a good laugh.

The 7 of us had each drawn a continent to pray for, and that was mine. But as we began to talk about it, we brainstormed who that could be. We talked about the scientists there who might not know Christ. We moved on to people in cold places in other parts of the world—Scandinavia, Siberia, Greenland, and so on. We went in a circle for quite some time, and when it got around to me, I lifted them all up.

That might not have been the most conventional way to pray for the lost around the world, but it’s one I haven’t forgotten even years later. And I think, while unusual, that tactic accomplished something. It made me remember those people. I still pray for them when Antarctica gets mentioned in conversation or in a movie. I still remember the people in all the cold places of the world.

Praying for May*

“May’s mother called from another province, saying that May had an evil spirit inside her and asking if I would go see her immediately,” Helen Caldwell shared. “Due to the fact that May was recuperating from surgery, I interpreted that to mean that May was feverous—an infection from the surgery, perhaps.”

Caldwell grabbed the thermometer, dropped her schedule, and drove into town. Thinking this wouldn’t take long—assuming she’d take May to a doctor—she went alone. “When I get to May’s neighborhood, I begin to get nervous—abandoned and semiabandoned buildings, trash everywhere, teenagers standing aimlessly around. But I park the car, go in the house, and call for May. No answer. Now I am really nervous.”

An upstairs door opened, and a young man called out, saying May was upstairs. Caldwell found May silently lying on the floor, her eyes closed. “I speak to her—no response. I ask the man what is wrong, and he says, ‘She has an evil spirit inside her.’ I’m still assuming she has a fever, so out comes my thermometer. Getting May’s temperature is difficult, but she finally opens her mouth enough—perfectly normal results. Now I am beginning to catch on.”

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