Sunday, May 11, 2014

Praying Like Jesus: Praying For Unbelievers

Hebrews 5:7 "In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety." 

Welcome to day seven of our study on "Praying Like Jesus". The hope is that this study has began to change how you look at prayer and pray. In today's post Jesus is going to demonstrate perhaps one of the most significant things we can pray for: praying for unbelievers. When we think of all the reasons God has the church to continue being a presence here on earth, a number of suggestions are offered. Some note that Jesus wanted to have us remain in this world to be a worshipping people. Certainly we are to worship Him through our songs, hearing the Word of God and living out our daily lives before others - however worship will only be perfect in heaven. As noted teacher Dr. John MacArthur points out - the clue to defining our main purpose for remaining here on earth is found in the one thing we will not be doing in Heaven. 

All other activities that are very important: fellowship, growing in sanctification and learning scripture are biggies when it comes to defining the essentials of Godly living in this world - however they do not mark the chief reason for why we are here. All of those activities will continue on into eternity where Christians will not only had perfected them but will continue excelling in them. The only activity that will cease once we leave this world - either by death or rapture - is that of evangelism.

Jesus states in Luke 10:1-2 "Now after this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them in pairs ahead of Him to every city and place where He Himself was going to come. 2 And He was saying to them, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest."'  Praying for unsaved loved ones, friends and co-workers opens the door for the Holy Spirit to lay such persons on our hearts and to see them as souls in need of the Savior. Evangelism is the Christian's greatest responsibility, which requires prayer.

As Jesus was dying on the cross, He prayed on behalf of unbelievers in Luke 23:33-34. Jesus uttered a total of seven sayings on the cross, and the prayer for unconverted people was the first of those sayings. The heart of Jesus' mission was to die for sinners. In the immediate sense He was praying for the Romans and Jews who had sentenced and condemned Him. Yet we also recognize in that prayer He was praying by extension for those sinners who sins He died for.

Point of Application: How often do you and I pray for unbelievers? We pray for the sick - and we should. We often pray for safety in traveling or before our meals - and we ought. We pray for provision of needs - which is necessary. Yet how often do we pray for unbelievers' salvation? Praying for the unsaved is the one thing that will break us from the tendency to focus on ourselves and begin the process of focusing on others. This is how Jesus taught and lived in His prayer life - putting others before Himself.

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