Today, we continue our message series Prayer That God Answers. We listen to what God has to say to determine His will. Then we pray and ask God to do His will. Prayer is intended by God to be a two-way conversation.
This morning, our message is entitled “Intercessory Prayer.” It’s perfectly fine to pray for ourselves and that comes fairly naturally for most of us. But we mustn’t stop there. Not only should we pray for God’s will to be done in our own lives, we should pray for God’s will to be done in the lives of others as well. When we pray for others, the Bible calls it intercession.
Hebrews 7:25 (ESV) Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
Jesus is continually interceding in heaven for believers, both before and after they are saved. We also should be interceding for others in our daily prayers as believers. We can pray for all kinds of things for other people that are according to God’s will. But this morning we want to focus on the most important thing that you can pray for someone. And the most important prayer you can pray for another person is that they would be saved.
1 Timothy 2:3-4 (ESV) This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
These verses make it clear that it is God’s will for people to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth about Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 3:9 (ESV) The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
The reason that Jesus Christ has not returned is that He is giving people more time to repent and be saved. Again, Scripture clearly states here that the Lord does not want anyone to perish. So, it is God’s perfect will that everyone be saved. Will everyone be saved? The Bible is clear that the answer is No. Many will refuse to repent and will perish. So, here’s where you and I come in as believers. When we pray God’s will for a person and persist in that prayer, God will answer that prayer.
1 John 5:14-15 (ESV) And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.
God wants each of us to pray for the salvation of relatives, friends, schoolmates, co-workers and neighbors. It’s His will that they be saved. When we earnestly pray with faith, God moves through His Spirit and draws them to Jesus.
Today, we are going to learn from God’s Word, how to pray for those we know who are lost and don’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ. As we faithfully pray in faith, we will see God work miracles and those we are praying for will be saved. In order for that to happen, you must first of all …
Hebrews 11:1 (ESV) Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
One the requirements for a prayer to be answered is faith according to James 1:6. This verse in Hebrews explains what faith is all about. Faith is a confidence that what we pray for will be answered by God. If we doubt when we pray, then even though we may be praying God’s will, the prayer won’t be answered. Faith is an assurance that what we are praying for will happen through God. So how can we have a confident faith that a person we are praying for will be saved?
Romans 4:20 (ESV) No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God,
This verse is speaking of Abraham who prayed patiently for some 25 years for the son that God had promised. Even though he and his wife were getting older every year that passed, his faith did not get weaker, but it was strengthened as time went on. Finally, at the age of 100, Abraham’s prayer was answered and his son, Isaac was born. How can you strengthen your faith?
Romans 10:17 (ESV) So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
This verse tells us how we get faith and how our faith can be strengthened. It is through the word of God. How does that work? As you read God’s Word, meditate on it and pray it back to God, your faith will grow stronger. The aspects of God’s Word that deal with salvation and God’s desire to save everyone will be of great benefit. Oftentimes, God’s Spirit will highlight a verse as a promise that you can build your faith with in regard to someone you are praying for. When you pray for others to be saved, you need to have a confident faith.
Charles Finney told a story of a Christian father whose whole family of children had grown up, but none had been saved. One day, one of his sons became very ill and seemed on the verge of death. The father prayed for healing, but the son only grew worse. The father realizing that the son was headed for an eternity hell, prayed with everything he had, that the son would live and be saved. Finally, God gave him the assurance that his son would live and be saved, along with the rest of the children. He told his family of what God had spoken to him. And so it was, the son lived and was saved. Over the next years, all of his children were saved.
Who has God placed on your heart to pray for to be saved? Make a list, pray daily for them. Strengthen your faith through God’s Word and promises.
1 Corinthians 2:14 (ESV) The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
This verse explains why people are not easily saved. God’s Word and its truth about salvation seem foolish to them, it simply doesn’t make sense. Unbelievers do not have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside to help them understand and comprehend God’s truth. So, when we pray for the lost, we must pray for God, through His Spirit to reveal Himself to them. Although our witness and words are important, you can’t argue someone into being saved. God must be at work in their lives through the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 4:3-4 (ESV) And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
Not only do unbelievers think God’s Word is foolishness, Satan has blinded or veiled their minds. The things that seem so obvious to us as believers, simply cannot be seen by an unbeliever. This is not just a matter of mental comprehension, it is a spiritual blindness caused by demonic forces that seek to keep the lost lost. So, we pray for this veil and blindness that keeps the lost from seeing the truth to be removed and their spiritual eyes opened.
2 Timothy 2:25-26 (ESV) correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
We pray that God brings conviction of sin to the unbeliever, so that they can repent and come to a knowledge of the truth. Repentance is a change of mind with regard to sin and the things of God. To repent choose to turn away from sin and seek God. We pray for the lost to come to their senses, realize the trap of Satan they are in and turn to God for rescue. Unbelievers are in Satan’s trap and they are doing not God’s will, but Satan’s will. Prayer can help them escape the trap and come to repentance.
Mell and Paula Winger have seen many family members become believers as the prayed for them over the years. However Paula’s younger brother, Doug had an ungodly lifestyle and was living in total rebellion. He hated the Bible and would leave the house when they came to dinner. Mell & Paula devoted one night a week to fast and pray for Doug’s salvation for 1 ½ years. They continued to pray for him for another six years. Finally, one night, while attending a Christian concert, Doug gave his heart to Jesus. Today, Doug is a pastor with a powerful evangelistic ministry.
What happened? Persistent prayer brought God’s revelation to Doug. The spiritual blindness was eventually lifted and he repented and gave his life to Jesus Christ. God can do the same for the people God has placed on your heart. Sometimes you may not know whether someone is saved or not. Don’t just assume that they must be saved. Talk to them. If they say they are a Christian, ask them why. If they can’t give you the right biblical answer, then they’re not a believer and you need to pray for them.
2 Corinthians 10:3-4 (ESV) For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.
Every unbeliever has demonic strongholds in their lives that are keeping them from being saved. Prayer is one of the key weapons that God has given us to demolish strongholds. Through prayer, God can reveal to you what strongholds are keeping a person from the Lord. Then you can target your prayers and words to breaking through that stronghold.
2 Corinthians 10:5 (ESV) We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,
Unbelievers have arguments about why they do not believe. Probably the biggest argument and lofty opinion of an unbeliever is pride. Most unbelievers in America believe in God. They think they are Christians because they are, in their lofty opinion, a pretty good person, better than most. Surely God will accept them into heaven in the end. Prayer is needed to demolish those prideful arguments and cause the person to understand their hopeless state as a sinner.
Mark 4:15 (ESV) And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them.
This is a verse from a parable that Jesus taught about the sower. In the parable, the seed that was sown is the truth of God’s Word. Different soils represent different people’s hearts. In this verse, Jesus is talking about people’s hearts that are hard, like a well-trodden pathway. When the truth of God’s Word lands on a hard heart, it doesn’t penetrate. The birds of the air, representing Satan’s demons, then come and take away the Word so that it has not effect. We must pray for the soil of the unbeliever’s heart to be softened. So that the truth of God’s Word can penetrate it and begin to grow there.
A single mom named Darlene had a grown son named Sean living in her home. However, Sean had strayed far from the Lord. He never read his Bible, prayed or went to church. Darlene prayed and pleaded with God to intervene in his life. She began to pray, “I give you my son, give me back a brother in the Lord.” Sometime later, Sean came home when a small group Bible study was going on. He began asking a lot of questions and finally asked for God’s forgiveness and promised to follow Jesus for the rest of his life.
Ask God to give you insight into the strongholds in the lives of those you are praying for. Then begin to specifically pray that those strongholds would be demolished and the loved one would be saved. The 21 days of prayer and fasting we are in as a church are a great time to focus on people you know who need to be saved.
Today, we’ve focused on praying for others to be saved. It’s the most important prayers that you can pray. God wants your faith to be strengthened in believing that it is His will that your friends and loved ones become believers. Your prayers are essential to removing the veil and blindness that is preventing people from seeing the truth about Jesus. As we pray, both individually and together in groups, God will demolish the strongholds that keep people captive in their unbelief. And we’ll see many people saved and set free to serve Jesus Christ.