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 Praying for Others

How to Pray for Others Who Have a Will of Their Own

 

John Hoole September 12 & 19, 2004


Think about your life:

1. Is there someone you know and love who does not know or understand the need to have Jesus as their Lord and Savior?

2. Have you ever wanted to know how to pray for a teenager or young adult who has run away from their family or is going wild?

3. Do you have someone who always expresses bitterness, or who always complains, and nothing you say seems to help?

4. Have you encountered people who seemed quite resistant to godly counsel? You felt that you had something to say but you knew that it was not getting through?

5. Do you have a spouse or family member who is not a Christian, or knows God, but is rebelling against God's ways?

Keep these people in mind as we investigate what God says about praying for these kinds of people.

One interesting aspect of prayer is that quite often our prayers involve other people. Our prayer might speak of a person who is sick and they have decided they want the ultimate healing - death. It might involve a loved one who refuses to accept Jesus as their Savior. It might be a broken relationship that you want mended, but the other person keeps rejecting your desires.

Prayer is one activity God has given us, where we can involve the lives of others. But when we pray for others, there is an added dimension. That person we are praying for has a will of their own.

We believe that when God created mankind, He created us with a free will. When God created us with a freedom to choose, He was aware of the possibility that we might choose not to follow and love Him. He didn't want some being that was forced to love or worship Him. He will not force us to make the right decisions.

This is all a part of the law of sowing and reaping. If we ignore God and His wisdom, we will suffer the consequences, because we will reap what we sow. On the positive side, however, if we choose to follow and obey God, we will reap God's blessings, and receive the promises God gives us in His Word.

God gave us the freedom to choose whether or not to stay connected to the source of real life. And God will not violate that freedom to choose, and force his ways upon a person, who doesn't want to follow. He does not force salvation on anyone.

As one poet put it:

"In many ways He will be good and kind,
But God will never force the human mind."

So how does one pray for another person, knowing that it is always possible for the other person to make the final choice, and, thereby, keep your prayers from being answered the way you ask? This fact is terribly frustrating, especially if you are interceding for a loved one such as a child or a spouse. It is true, the only thing capable of thwarting God's willingness to bless, is a person's unwillingness to be blessed. This is a true fact, even if what we are praying for is in the center of God's will and heart.

For instance, Psalms 122:6 tells us to "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem." And yet, even though we pray for such peace, we know that such a thing involves the will of thousands of people, both for and against such a peace.

This is not to say that you and I should cease praying for others.

WHAT BIBLE PASSAGES ARE EXAMPLES SHOWING US - INDEED, IN SOME CASES, COMMANDING US - TO PRAYER FOR OTHERS?

Let me begin with Ephesians 6:18 NIV

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

Some might object, saying this Passage speak only of praying for those already within the body. That is true, but even those in the body of Christ have the freedom to choose whether to fully follow Christ's will or not.

In 2 Timothy 1:2-3 (RSV), we find Paul praying for another person - Timothy.

2 To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
3 I thank God whom I serve with a clear conscience, as did my fathers, when I remember you constantly in my prayers.

No particular reason is given regarding why Paul prayed for Timothy day and night.

Acts 12:5 gives an example of people praying for someone to be spared from danger. In this case, the prayers are spoken for Peter. It says, "While Peter was kept in prison, the church prayed fervently to God for Him."

The Bible even calls for Christians to pray for those who persecute them. Matthew 5:44 reads: "But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you."

Of course, Jesus practices what He preached. You will remember, as He hung on the cross, He asked for forgiveness for his executioners when he said, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."

1 Timothy 2:1-8 NKJV

1 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men,
2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.
3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,
4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

8 I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting;

God wants us to pray for kings, or presidents, and others in authority, whether they are godly leaders or not. This points out a sometimes forgotten aspect about praying for the lost, that governments can do a lot to help or to hinder the process of evangelism.

Even at its earliest, the young church was praying for people.

o For safe travel for others

o Praying that people might know Christ through other people's witness.

o Praying for healing and health,

o For rescue.

o For wisdom

o For childbirth

o For spiritual growth

o For marriages

o Asking God to bring benefit or blessing to people other than themselves.

The others were not always beloved. They even prayed for some who were out to kill them.

There really is a long list of scriptural instances which show the benefits that may be conferred on others by praying for them. God is pleased to do great things for souls, when friends and relatives are moved to pray for them.

Notice the words of Ezekiel 22:30 NKJV

30 So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.

This passage tells us that God wants us to stand in the gap - be an intercessor - for other people. He had to pour out his judgment because no one stood in the gap. In Genesis 18:23-32, we see, because of Abraham's persistence, God would not have destroyed Sodom if He had been able to find 10 righteous men in the city. Abraham was standing in the gap. On many occasions, Moses interceded for the people of Israel. He pleaded with the Lord for mercy. He asked God to stay His hand from consuming the nation in His wrath. (Exodus 32:7-14; Deut. 9:8-9, 12-20, 23-27, etc.; Psalm 106.23)

Because "prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God," .Peter's chains fell off from his hands and "the iron gate…opened to them of its own accord," and he was led out of the prison by an angel of God (Acts 12:5-12).

In Jeremiah 5, we find God telling Jeremiah to search the city and see if he could find even one righteous man. If He could, God promised to spare the entire city.

There should be no doubt at all that we should be praying for others. In fact, this is a great privilege.

BUT, HOW DO WE PRAY FOR A PERSON THAT WILL BRING THE DESIRED RESULT WITHOUT VIOLATING THAT PERSON'S FREEDOM OF PERSONAL WILL?

I am going to give you a list of ways to pray that will not violate a person's will. The list might be different for a saved person verses an unsaved person. So, today I am going to give you a list that applies primarily to praying for the lost, but the same principles will also apply to a Christian, even one who is being carnal or rebellious. Actually, I believe these same principles could be applied to just about any other problem area in the spiritual life.

Before we pray for an unsaved person, it is important to know what God says about the matter.

WHAT DO WE KNOW IS GOD'S DESIRE FOR THOSE WHO ARE LOST?

It is God's will that all people should be saved. Consider the following passages from the Bible.

Ezekiel 18:23 NIV

23 Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?

Matthew 18:14 NIV

14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.

1 John 5:16 NIV

16 If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life.

2 Peter 3:9 NIV

9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

1 Timothy 2:3-4 NIV

3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior,
4 who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

We can see from these portions of God's Word, that God our Savior wants all men to be saved. Therefore, when you pray for a lost love one, you are praying in the perfect will of God. The reason why we pray for the salvation of people, is because God wants to save them. 1 John 5:16 says clearly that we should pray for the salvation of unsaved people.

Now I would like to present to you a list of ways to pray for the person you know:

1. Who doesn't see or understand their need of a Savior. They may be a spouse or a son or daughter or a friend.

2. Who is trying to straddle the fence between Christ and the world.

3. Who is running from the godly ways they have been taught as a child.

4. Who is always negative and finding fault in the lives of Christians.

5. Who is caught in any number of addictions, whether, drugs, alcohol, sexual promiscuity, etc.

6. Who is bitter towards the church in particular and people in general.

7. Who won't listen to wise counsel.

8. Who might be a Christian but doesn't recognize the need to follow Christ closely.

9. Who struggles with continual setbacks in their walk with God because of habits and poor choices.

The TEN suggestions I am about to give you cannot be thwarted by the will of the person for whom you are praying.

1. Level the playing field

When praying for the lost or the wayward prodigal, think of leveling the playing field. You want the person for whom you are praying, to have their heart opened to making right choices.

But Satan has a different agenda. He purposely tries to keep them from seeing any alternative from the broad road they are traveling to destruction.

Matthew 13:13, 15 NKJV

13 …… because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.

15 For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.

The lost have been blinded.

2 Corinthians 4:3-4 NIV

3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.
4 The god of this age [that's Satan] has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

In Acts 26, Paul is recounting, for King Agrippa, his experience on the road to Damascus. In verse 17, he says that he was called to minister to the Gentiles. And the next verse tells what His ministry is to do.

Acts 26:18 NIV

18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.'

One of the problems of being lost is that one cannot see the obvious. They simply do no get it. It is not that it is too deep to understand - nor is it a matter of intelligence. It is a spiritual seeing problem.

Satan has veiled the eyes of the unbeliever. You don't want to allow that to happen. That is an external force from the enemy which is influencing the person we are praying for. And we can effectively resist and fight this force without any input from our loved one.

There are at least two things we can do to combat the enemy's tactics here. One is to pray, in Jesus name, that God will protect them so their eyes will see clearly and their minds discern correctly. Satan is out to seduce, beguile, deceive or confuse the one for whom you are praying.

The second way we can pray in this regard is to "apply the blood of Jesus Christ." The blood of Jesus Christ is a powerful means of protection. The blood of Jesus is not only effective in saving our souls, it is a powerful weapon against the enemy.

On the very first Passover, the blood on the doors was the key thing. When the death angel came to pass judgment, he did not stop at the places where the blood had been applied.

We cannot resist the devil in our own strength, but we can plead the power of the blood. It is the shed blood of Jesus Christ that signifies, once for all, the eternal defeat of Satan. As we plead, bind, cover, or cleanse our prayer objective, by faith, with the blood of Jesus Christ, we are in effect requesting our Commander-in-Chief to step in and help in a most dramatic way.

We cannot see it with our physical eyes, but the blood of Jesus is SCREAMING RED to Satan and his cohorts. It is a declaration to them that Christ's blood is a boundary they cannot violate.

Revelation 12:11 NKJV

11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.

In the natural world, we would have no difficulty understanding how to apply disinfectant to an infection. Likewise, we should have no difficulty in doing the same thing spiritually. Where Satan is at work, we must apply the only corrective antidote there is, the Blood of Jesus. There is absolutely no alternative, no substitute. Prayer, praise, worship…all have their part, but the Blood of Jesus is the only effective counteragent to corruption.

Satan has absolutely no strength against the blood of Jesus Christ. Let us use all our weapons: the Name of Jesus, the Word of God, and the Blood of the Lamb. We should sing about the Blood, talk about the Blood, and rejoice in the precious Blood of the Lamb!

So, let's level the playing field, and make sure the enemies evil designs on the person are stopped in their tracks.

You might put it this way: "Father, in the name of Jesus, I pray for the blood of Jesus Christ to protect (insert name) from any confusion, deception or game playing by other people or the enemy. I pray that their mind be open and that their spiritual eyes be able to see the path before them; a path leading to death and destruction, but, also so they can see there is another alternative that leads to life abundant. May they be freed from the devil's blinding tactics, so they can see there is a much better path waiting for them."

2. Build a Hedge of protection

Suggestion number 2 is akin to the first way to pray. It is another part to leveling the playing field. We need to recognize two truths:

1. There is a hedge of protection that God has around each believer.

2. Then there is also a hedge of protection that you can pray over your saved or un-saved loved-ones, or family members.

A good passage to start with is Psalm 5.

Psalms 5:11-12 NKJV

11 But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; Let those also who love Your name Be joyful in You.
12 For You, O LORD, will bless the righteous; With favor You will surround him as with a shield.

Notice the shield or hedge that surrounds the person.

The Psalmist, in Psalm 34:7, also says: "The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him and delivereth them." Again, we have the idea of being surrounded by God's protection and favor.

The passages we just read talk about the protection of the righteous. What about the prodigal son or daughter? What about the rebellious? What about the lost? I believe we can also pray a hedge of protection around our loved-ones. The apostle Paul taught very plainly, that there are supernatural demonic forces at work. He further tells us these forces are lurking behind all the social structures in the world.

Satan is called the prince and power of the air. And he has an almost innumerable company of cohorts who do his bidding continually. We call them demons. And they are out to destroy and to do everything they can to counter what God is trying to do. Paul identified these powers as real. And we would be foolish to close our eyes and say that there is no such thing.

But, God does not leave us helpless. He tells us what we can do.

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 NKJV

4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds,
5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,

The devil has built up lies, false doctrine, stumbling blocks and many other strongholds, in the minds of the unsaved or the wayward, to keep them from receiving or following Christ. He has also tried to blind the carnal Christian in a similar manner. Wherever he can, Satan has blinded them lest the glorious gospel should shine unto them.

There are several things that the devil cannot stand. One is the blood of Jesus Christ. Another is the Word of God. And the name of Jesus makes him tremble. And He cannot stand against a praying saint.

You and I don't have to stand on our own reasoning, or our own wishful thinking, but stand on the Word of God. And the Word of God says our weapons are mighty through God to the pulling down of Satan's strongholds.

A great illustration of the hedge that God can and does put around people, even ungodly people, is found in the Book of Hosea. Hosea, the prophet of God, married a woman who was a prostitute. And there were serious problems. She continued to go out after other lovers.

Hosea 2:5-7 (Amplified)

5 For their mother has played the harlot; she who conceived them has done shamefully, for she said, I will go after my lovers that give me my food and my water, my wool and my flax, my oil and my refreshing drinks.
6 Therefore, behold, I [the Lord God] will hedge up her way [even yours, O Israel] with thorns; and I will build a wall against her that she shall not find her paths.
7 And she shall follow after her lovers but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them [inquiring for and requiring them], but shall not find them. Then shall she say, Let me go and return to my first husband, for then was it better with me than now.

We can pray for a hedge of protection, or a garrison to surround our loved ones. When Satan comes in like a flood, the Lord will raise up a standard against him.

We can pray something like this: "Lord, in the name of Jesus, and through the efficacy of your blood, I bring (Bill, Mary) , and place them in the center, asking that You put around them a hedge of protection, so that Satan will be powerless, and he will be paralyzed, so that (Bill, Mary) will not be able to do the things they used to do."

God may be actually counting on some of you to pray in this manner. We looked at Ezekiel 22:30 earlier, when talking about standing in the gap.

Let's read it again (KJV).

30 And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.

This time I want you to notice that once again, the hedge of protection is mentions. And God wants us to become part of that hedge. He asks us to stand in the gap in order to complete the circumference of the hedge. If we don't, Satan will have a way in to do his destruction. Satan doesn't give up his victims without a fight. Our warfare is often like a wrestling match. The victory is seldom won in the first round, or necessarily the second or third. Persistence is necessary in order to win.

3. Pray for the work of the Holy Spirit

When praying for others, I have found that it is best to pray for the Holy Spirit to start to move in their lives. The Bible says, in John 16, the Holy Spirit has come to convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment. We are also told in the same Passage that the Holy Spirit has come to draw people to and glorify Jesus.

We need to always remember, no amount of logical arguments on our part will ultimately cause a person to accept God's way. Your words may cause them to see another alternative, but without the work of the Holy Spirit, no one comes to God. We cannot do the work of the Holy Spirit - and we shouldn't try.

We can pray that God would send "conviction." That is, pray they will sense the urgency of their need. When Peter spoke to the people on the Day of Pentecost, in Acts 2, his sermon was interrupted by his listeners.

Acts 2:37 NKJV

37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?"

So, your words may cause them to think for a moment, but it is the Holy Spirit that quickens their hearts and convicts them. Conviction is when God call a person to account, and is made aware of his faults.

When I pray for someone that the Lord has laid on my heart, I pray:

o Holy Spirit, convict them of their sin,

o Holy Spirit, show them their need for a Savior,

o Holy Spirit, draw them to Jesus Christ,

o I also pray that God will protect them and keep their minds open to the message.

Pray specifically that the Holy Spirit will lay these questions on the person's heart, and that they will start looking for answers to these questions.

1. Whom can I really trust?

2. What is my purpose in life?

3. Where will I go when I die?

4. When will I be really free?

5. Why do I hate God, and flee from Him?

6. How can I best handle my problems?

Let me now give you some short specifics to pray over your loved-ones

4. Pray that every time they come into you home, they experience a godly presence.

They may not at first recognize what it is, but they will take notice that there is something different about this place. I don't know how many people have told Paula or I how peaceful our home is - that it is a "safe" place.

When I pray for our church and the visitors that come through our doors, I pray that every person who enters this place senses the presence of God in a special and unique way. I want them to sense, even if they cannot understand why, that the glory of God has taken up residence here.

The next two suggested ways to pray are related. One involves the people - the other speaks of specific activities.

5. See who influences the person's life negatively and pray against them.

Pray for the Holy Spirit to interrupt and break this relationship that keeps the person away from God. Pray that your loved one recognizes the bad influence this person has on their own life. Pray that God binds these influences, even to breaking this negative relationship. You can also pray that the person that is a negative influence becomes saved, and then becomes a positive influence.

6. Determine what activities negatively influences the person's life.

Pray that they will be replaced with positive activities, and that the negative activities become powerless. Ask for release from wrong ways and bad influences. Pray also for release from any addiction. Pray that God will bring the person for whom you are praying come to an end of themselves, that everything they are doing to pursue fulfillment outside the pursuit of God will turn sour and only produce frustration and emptiness.

We don't need to make suggestions to the God as to how to make that happen. Our Creator is ingenious in His infinite wisdom and knowledge. He has limitless ways that we have neither heard, nor thought of, to answer our prayers.

7. Pray that God will make them curious about spiritual things.

An important hurdle is often sheer apathy with regard to the truth. Pray that God will stir them up to search out the truth about life, and that they will search our people that can help. While our friend or loved one, in their natural condition, are turned off by God, He has a way of engineering circumstances that cause them to be drawn to Him.

8. Pray that God will surround your friends with witnessing Christians.

Matthew 9:38 NKJV

38 Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest."

While we often limit this verse to sending people to the mission fields, Jesus did not limit it that way. And, right now your loved one is a mission field. Pray for these people to cross paths with them. In fact, pray that they will feel absolutely surrounded and unable to escape from God. This forces people to consider Christ and the difference between their lives and the lives of true Christians. Pray that there is a true witness from Christians of love and care, both for other Christians, but also for those who are not. How Christians live their life daily, has a great influence on those who are watching them.

9. Ask that they may clearly grasp that they are sinful.

Why is this important? Unless there is a clear perception of sin, there can be no true repentance from sin. They must know that they are in the wrong.

We spoke earlier, in point #2, about Christ coming to pull down the strongholds of the enemy. The Passage related to this is 2 Corinthians 10:4-5. We can ask God to destroy mental strongholds, that is, to remove the barriers between them and Christ. Being a lost person is hard work. God gives witness to Himself in powerful ways. And the person who does not want to turn to Christ has to defend himself against the guilt and feelings of foolishness for rejecting Him. So they build defensive walls to keep those feelings out, and to keep God from "meddling" in their lives.

Some of these walls are made of intellectual rationalization. Some are made of the memories of bad experiences at church, or with people who professed to be Christians. Some walls are made with the bricks of procrastination. They just have never gotten around to accepting the way of the Savior. But all the walls are hardened bunkers to keep God away.

Prayer, however, can penetrate these walls. As the passage in 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (Weymouth) says,……

4. "The weapons with which we fight are not human weapons, but are mighty for God in overthrowing strong fortresses.
5. For we overthrow arrogant 'reckonings' and every stronghold that towers high in defiance of the knowledge of God, and we carry off every thought as if into slavery - into subjection to Christ."

10. Plead for a clear understanding of Jesus as Savior and Lord.

With some of the heresies abroad today, Jesus is often misunderstood. Pray that your friends may see Jesus as real and historical and also as divine. Pray that God may clear up any misunderstandings in these areas, and be prepared to answer questions. When that happens, be clear about Jesus being the only way to a true relationship with God.

We should pray that God will reveal to the lost souls the absolute reasonableness of surrendering their wills to the Lord Jesus by giving them understanding of His character. Only God knows which facets of His character the wayward person has a distorted view. Ask God to use any means to correct that distortion, and then believe that He will.

Ask God to reveal Himself to them in personal ways that they cannot refute, and bring them to the realization that by becoming a Christian they have everything to gain and nothing to lose.

Dutch Sheets, in his book "Intercessory Prayer," tells the story of Marlena and Patrick and how they prayed for their son Kevin, who was on the road to self destruction. They specifically prayed the following, and we can pray in the same manner:

o That God would lift the veil over him.

o For the Holy Spirit to hover over him and protect him.

o For Godly people to be in his path every day; to speak life into him.

o That the Holy Spirit to take down all known strongholds, whether they be thought patterns, opinions on religion, materialism, fear, etc., and to cast down anything that would exalt itself against the knowledge of God, specifically pride and rebellion.

o That Satan be bound from taking Kevin [name of your loved one] captive, and to bind all wicked thoughts and lies the devil would try to place in Kevin's mind.

o That the armor of God would be place around Him.

Within two weeks Kevin overdosed on drugs and in his time of need cried out to God. The Lord met him in a powerful way.

One reason why this kind of praying is so important is that the unbeliever or the rebellious cannot war for themselves. They cannot and will not overcome the strongholds of darkness on their own. They will not understand the gospel until the veil of Satan is lifted. That is why is it so important for us to take up the weapons of warfare and go into battle.

I hope that in presenting these 10 ways to pray, that you took note that none of them, when answered, violates a person's free will to choose whatever they desire. But they may influence future choices they make.

J. Sidlow Baxter

"Men may spurn our appeal, reject our message, oppose our arguments, despise our person, but they are helpless against our prayers."

And, might I say, when you prayer for others, God doesn'[t forget about you and your needs.

Samuel Rutherford

"I have been benefited by prayer for others; for by making an errand to God for them I have gotten something for myself."

A Word of Encouragement

I want to take you to a passage that may be very familiar to most of you. It is found in the Old Testament, but was quoted in part by Christ in Luke 4.

Let's read Isaiah 61:1-4 NAS

1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives, And freedom to prisoners;
2 To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn,
3 To grant those who mourn in Zion, Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of heaviness. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.
4 Then they will rebuild the ancient ruins, They will raise up the former devastations, And they will repair the ruined cities, The desolations of many generations.

I have read this passage many times, but only in the last month have I become aware of something I hadn't seen before. Maybe that's because of the subject we have been studying. And maybe you have already noticed what I am about to tell you.

Firstly, you probably know many of your acquaintances who fit into the descriptions of people in these verses. We can immediately think of those we know who are afflicted, brokenhearted, captives, prisoners. We have loved ones who mourn and who seem to have a spirit of heaviness.

Although Christ, in Luke 4, plainly reveals that He was the fulfillment of this Passage, He has passed this ministry on to us. He said "the things I do you shall do."

WHAT IS THE MISSION OF THE GODLY PEOPLE IN VERSE 1?

They have been sent with the good news to those who are afflicted, brokenhearted, and the captive prisoners. The good news is to proclaim liberty to them. God is asking us to pray for broken and captive people. We are to pray for people who are spiritually imprisoned, emotionally devastated, and/or desperately poor. We are to pray that what Isaiah say in these four verse would be fulfilled. Pray that someone be sent to them with the anointing of God's Spirit. That God would move in His favor.

In the first verse, we need to take note of two additional things. One is the person of the Holy Spirit, and the other is the "anointing."

The Holy Spirit must be allowed to be part of our ministry of intercession. The Holy Spirit must also be involved in the answer to our prayers. The anointing means to be selected, authorized, and commissioned with authority. It speaks of one chosen to be an ambassador, sent in Christ's name.

God has given the keys to the kingdom to those who know and obey Him. (Matthew 16:19). Those keys are fitted to:

1. Stop hell's worst and insist and heaven's best.

2. Unlock mankind's captives and shatter Satan's chains.

With this in mind, we need to also recognize two other things. We are to:

1. Pray for divine appointment. Pray that each person you are praying for be ready when the Holy Spirit does His work.

2. Pray for the Spirit's anointment. Pray that Christ's healing and comfort and restoration come with great power.

Now take a close look at verse 4.

WHO ARE THE REBUILDERS?

Who are the people in verse 4?

They are the broken and captive people of mentioned in the first three verses. It is not the intercessor who are the rebuilders, but those who the intercessor has be praying for. We can be satisfied praying just for their conversion, or their return, or we can pray that they will become deeply committed disciples of the Lord Jesus. We can pray that they will have a burning desire to know God and to make Him known and impact their generation in the power of the Holy Spirit. We can pray that from their steps of obedience to revealed truth, they will be among the overcomers as described in the book of Revelation.

Picture the person you are concerned with, who is lost or become a prodigal, as the future restorers of the kingdom of God. Let that be an encouragement to you --- even if you don't see it now.

SOME WARNINGS

The following are a few thoughts and questions to keep in mind when seriously praying for someone to be saved or to return to the Lord.

1. Do you have pure motives?

Why do you pray for the person. Do you pray for them to be a better husband or wife or son or daughter? Do you pray for them to make your life easier, or maybe to be able to say that you have brought someone to the Lord. Or do you pray for the person so the Lord can be glorified through his or her life? We should pray for them to be saved or to return from their prodigal ways, so they will no longer dishonor God by their sinful ways. Our great concern should be that they will stop trampling over the precious blood of Christ and stop spurning God's love for them. This should be our desire, regardless of the cost to us or them.

The nearer we get to God, the more we become aware that our attitudes toward the people for whom we are praying are all-important for the further release of God's power through us. Sometimes, the people whom we love, but who are far from God, are those who have hurt us deeply. We need to make sure that we feel no resentment toward them as we pray for them. It is possible to pray fervently and for many years for people we have never forgiven. This can be a major hindrance to our prayers being answered.

Hebrews 12:15 (NIV) reads:

See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

2. Be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Do not tell God what He must do, or how to do it. He knows His work.

It is worthy of note that the Holy Spirit's assistance in prayer is more frequently mentioned than any of His other offices and works. All true praying springs from His activity in our heart. Both Paul and Jude teach that effective praying is "praying in the Holy Spirit." All true prayer rises in the spirit of the believer from the Spirit who indwells him.

Ephesians 6:18 (NIV) says,

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.

Prayer demands more than human power and energy for its supernatural task. And the Holy Spirit supplies it. He is the Spirit of power as well as the Spirit of prayer. Mere human energy of heart and mind and will can achieve only human results. But praying in the power of the Spirit releases supernatural resources.

As we submit to the Person of the Holy Spirit and obey His promptings, we will find that He puts the focus on us first. God wants us to say to Him, "What is it You are trying to teach me. I want to learn those lessons more than I want my circumstances to change."

We need to be encouraged that the more we let God work on us, the more the power of His Spirit will be released to work through us as we pray for the lost and wayward. Humbling ourselves before God and before the people for whom we are praying is a strong factor in releasing that power. Seriously consider the following verse.

Joshua 3:5 NIV

5 "Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you."

God wants to do amazing things in our lives and the lives of our loved ones. Let's consecrate ourselves to God.

3. Stand back and wait for God to work.

Don't be discouraged if you don't receive a quick answer. You are asking for something of very great value. God may test you to see how much your really mean business with Him. When He sees that it is of the utmost importance to you, He surely will answer you. And an intimate friendship with God will increase.

God's timing and ways to answer our prayers do not always coincide with our ways and timing. Certainly, the correct formula is to ask. But then we must leave the answer with the Lord, thanking Him, even when you haven't yet seen the answer. We can then say, "If more glory can come to Your name by delaying the answer to my prayer, that is fine with me." When we leave the results with God, then we do not need to feel discouraged in times of apparent lack of results.

There are times when we are particularly burdened for the spiritual welfare of our loved one, and the circumstances are outside of our control or ability to help them. To have peace of mind, we need to put Psalm 37:5 (RSV) into action: "Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act". The Hebrew word for "commit" literally means "to throw." We "throw" the ones for whom we are concerned at God, asking only that He act to bring the greatest glory to His name in their circumstances.

God is all-powerful, has the knowledge of all that is knowable, has all wisdom, is totally righteous and just, and is all loving. Therefore, He has the ability to catch those we throw at Him, and knows how to work on them for their best interest and for His glory. He knows the best methods and timing, and will do only the right and just things, and longs to catch them. Be thankful that God's answers are wiser than our prayers.

4. Sometimes fasting with prayer is needed.

If circumstances require fasting along with praying, then bring your requests to the Lord in this way. I believe more breakthroughs in the spiritual realm occur when we fast and pray. But always remember that it is not our fasting that impresses God. Only our obedience resonates with Him. We can expect to be prompted by the Holy Spirit at times to fast and prayer concerning special burdens God puts upon our hearts.

In Matthew 6:6, Jesus said, "…when you pray." In Verse 2, He said, "…when you give," and in verses 16 & 17, He said "…when you fast." Jesus repeated use of the word "when" to imply that praying, giving, and fasting are acts of obedience that Jesus requires of his disciples.

5. Include a praise of faith with your prayer.

Praise recognizes God is in control and it lifts our own spirits and works faith in our hearts. Praise also help when you are at the end of yourself, and realize that only God can do it. By faith, we can picture the people for whom we are praying as God will make them: "New creature in Christ Jesus."

6. Relinquish your life to God

As we pray for our loved ones, we need to have a desire for God to be glorified. And, with regard to glorifying God, are we willing to be placed in the position Paul was, when he said, in Phil. 1:20:

"I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death."

Notice those last six words: "whether by life or by death." Are we willing to say, "If by my death these unconverted or rebellious souls could be brought to You, Lord, then I am a candidate for death. Their soul means more to me than life itself. That is what I mean by relinquishing our life to God.

But what about total relinquishment of the person for whom you are praying? Can we pray, "If more glory can come to Your name by Your bringing the lost to you and then immediately taking them to heaven, that is also fine with me."

When we truly have a burdened heart for the lostness of people's souls, we will pray, "God, do anything that is required to bring them to the end of themselves, even if that means illness or injury, temporary or permanent." Are we really prepared for these implications? God both desires and has the power to bring us to the place where our desires for people to be in a right relationship with Him, is greater than our desire for their - or our own - physical well-being.

When we come to this place of relinquishing our life totally to God that is when we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are praying one hundred percent for the glory of God and have a God-given burden for those we are praying for. That is taking our "Isaacs" and laying them upon the altar on Mount Moriah. This may be the ultimate test because we know that God can take us at our word and we are left widowed or childless or friendless or orphaned. We can pray like this only if we understand the character of the One to whom we are praying.

7. Give God all the glory

Finally, it is of paramount importance to tell God that when our prayers are answered, we understand that it wasn't our praying or our fasting or our diligence that caused the miracle of new birth in another. It was because of His grace, His mercy, His power, and His love. We also need to remind ourselves of the part others, perhaps many others, have played through their prayers and words.

Psalm 115:1

"Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness."

CLOSING

Although we understand that God will not violate the will of a person, our prayers carry with them substantial effectiveness in the spiritual realm. Many people have been saved or restored through the influence of a praying believer.

We can indeed pray with a real hope and real promise that God would step in and act for the good of your loved one. God will act, even though it may be at a different time and in a different manner than we had thought. God wants us to ask, even ask urgently. It is a means of casting our weakness before God's strength.

   
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Last Updated: Thursday September 08 2011
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