We Must Pray For The Lost!
By Al Whittinghill
[Editor’s note: Our dear brother Al Whittinghill wrote the following message not just to be read, but to be studied and taken to heart to grasp the weight of the truth it contains. We join him in encouraging you to meditate carefully and prayerfully over the many Scriptures listed. As he points out, "It takes time to invest in God’s Word," but "the rewards of diligence are infinitely worth it…and there is so much at stake for the church in our day. We ought to be willing to give our most serious attention to what will make a life or death difference for so many!" He also encourages us to get together with other serious believers "and spend some time asking God Himself to bring you into the power of believing, corporate intercession for others! Do it for the Lord’s sake, and for the sake of those for whom you pray! Make a list of some people that you know who are lost and begin to lift them to the throne of God. Begin to wrestle for those precious souls in believing prayer! Jesus Christ has purchased…now we must claim the spoils of His glorious victory. And remember that the enemy absolutely hates these truths and will try to discourage you from entering the wealth of them. So press in to these vaults, no matter what the costs! Our gracious God is just waiting to demonstrate the truth of these words and to rescue the perishing."]
Have you ever wondered why, with all the time and money and effort that have been put into evangelism in the last decades in our nation, there are not more eternal results coming forth...more precious souls being saved? Instead of responding to the Gospel preached, our nation seems to be choosing to race towards judgment. The Gospel is not being taken seriously by most, and it is actually being scorned by many. A crisis of unprecedented proportion looms before our nation unless there is a major change in the hearts of the people in response to God’s Word. Oh, that God would move in gracious power among us. We know that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to those who believe. What is missing in this equation? I believe that there is an answer that is very simple, and I want to set it before you. I will do it in a form that will require you to take your Bible and search the Scriptures to see if these things are true! But, it will be worth it if you will do it prayerfully! But first...
We must ask ourselves if we really believe what the Bible says about the lost is true! Here is a brief, partial snapshot about what the Bible says about those who do not know Christ. The lost are:
• blinded to the Gospel by the devil so the light of the Gospel will not shine into them! (2 Cor. 4:3-4).
• unable to receive the things of the Spirit of God (1 Cor. 2:14).
• helplessly held in Satan’s grasp (1 John 5:19).
• "energized" by the power of the prince of the air and by nature "children of wrath" (Eph. 2:2-3).
• without God, and having no hope (Eph. 2:12).
• alienated from the life of God (Eph. 4:18).
• "enemies" of God (Rom. 5:10).
• in the snare of the devil to do his will (2 Tim. 2:26).
• a "house" for the strongman Satan (Mark 3:27).
• slaves under the jurisdiction of Satan (Acts 26:18).
•Jesus actually said of the lost that they are the children of the devil (John 8:44).
Because they are blinded and bound by the god of this world lost people must have emancipation and enlightenment before they can believe and be saved! They cannot hear or believe until they are released.
But God, who is rich in mercy...even when we were in this terrible state...commended His love towards us in that Christ died for us. The Bible says it plainly that God "desires all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth" and that He "gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time" (1 Tim. 2:1-6). "And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world" (1 John 2:2). "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering toward us, not willing [designing] that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Pet. 3:9). These verses give a crystal clear revelation of God’s heart for those who do not know Him. He wants the lost to be saved! There is no other way to take these verses! The enemy of our souls wants the lost to remain lost. He is a real and malignant foe who wants to keep men and women in blindness and in bondage. Do we believe this?
The Lord Jesus spoke of this specifically, explaining it in three of the four Gospels. (See Luke 11:20-23, Matthew 12:28-30 and Mark 3:27.) I urge you friend, to read them carefully. Jesus said that the strongman Satan keeps his house in peace UNTIL a stronger than he comes upon him and binds him, taking away his armor. Then Satan’s house can be spoiled! No lost man will ever be saved unless someone "stronger than Satan" frees that lost man from the demonic influence of the devil who has blinded and bound him. A blind man cannot appreciate a beautiful sunset; he needs sight to see the light.
Christ’s Glorious Victory
We must clearly understand that Christ has utterly destroyed and completely defeated the enemy by His sacrifice on Calvary. Hear the Scriptures! "For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil" (1 John 3:8). Jesus became a man so that He, as the Last Adam, would become the perfect atonement for sin. Through His death on the cross Christ would "destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage" (Heb. 2:14-15). By His precious sacrificial blood He blotted out "the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross; and having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it" (Col. 2:14-15). Christ’s conquest of the enemy was absolute! The enemy has been utterly "spoiled." Raised from the dead, Christ ascended into heaven and was crowned King of kings and Lord of all. Today He reigns in majesty and power, and He is expecting His enemies to be made His footstool.
Now, on the basis of His glorious victory at Calvary He has purposed that the people who know God will be strong and do exploits, overcoming the enemy "in His name." Isaiah 53:12 says that "He will divide the spoil with the strong; because He has poured out His soul to death." The church is to enforce the blood-bought victory of Christ in believing prayer...claiming the spoils of Calvary according to the Word of God. The impossible becomes Him-possible!
The Church’s Power and Authority Through Prayer
God has called His church, His body, to deal with the enemy, in the power of His name! She has been given great authority to share in His eternal purposes, and this is primarily through believing prayer! How little this fact is realized and how great is our loss due to it. As members of His body, united to Him by His blood and His breath, and in covenant with Him, we are called to participate with Him in His eternal victory! We are "seated together with Him in the heavenlies." He has given His church authority from on High (reverently read Ephesians 1:18-23 here...and note that in verse nineteen the power is given "to those who believe"). Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world. We overcome the enemy by the blood of the Lamb! We are called to take the kingdom by force and to make His enemies His footstool. Every child of God is involved in spiritual warfare, whether he wants to be or not. Look at Ephesians 6:10-12 and notice "against" is used five times! All of the armor in Ephesians 6:14-17 is for the purpose of prayer! Pray, or be preyed upon!
The church, as His Bride, is to enforce the will of God in prayer from our position in Christ. See the conflict described in Second Corinthians 10:3-6. What a key Scripture! We must use spiritual weapons in this war – carnal weapons simply will not work in this arena. See verse six where it says that God is ready "to avenge all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled." I personally believe that this is an obedience by God’s people to respond to Him in believing prayer. The church is called to be "a house of prayer!" The Word of God is the weapon of choice of the Holy Spirit in this war...and the believing prayers of the church are "the arm of His strength" that He uses to "wield the Sword." God is just waiting for the church to pray and to dare to walk in the power and authority that His passion has bought and wrought. Without prayer we end up fighting on the devil’s ground. Our Lord has given the church prayer power to bind and to loose. This is truly awesome! Martin Luther called this ministry of the church "the ministry of the keys." (See Matthew 16:19; 18:19-20.)
Remember this! Repentance is the gift of God (2 Tim. 2:25-26). Saving faith is the gift of God (Eph. 2:8-10). A man can receive nothing except it is given from heaven (John 3:27). No man can come to the Lord except he be drawn (John 6:44, 65). Man is helpless, and God wants to give salvation...but the church must respond to God’s call and take the spoils of Calvary in prayer...using the keys to bind the enemy and set the captives free!
God has chosen to work through His church! He wants our loving cooperation (co-labor) in His eternal purpose. We are to co-labor in the glorious work of wrestling for souls in prayer. It is the privilege (and responsibility) of the church to intercede and pray for the lost. He has purchased...we must claim! Bind the enemy on the basis of Calvary and loose the captives. Without prayer the satanic defenses will remain intact, and there will be little understanding and vision of the Gospel – even in spite of our best efforts, sincerity, and faithful presentations of the Gospel. But God says, "If you ask...I will do." In the background of every decision to receive Christ there are powers and forces in operation of which we are only dimly aware. It is like the tide at the ocean. Prayer turns the tide!
It is not just "going to all the world" and pleading with souls...first, we must go to the throne of God and plead the precious promises that are ours through His blood. We must lay hold of HIS victory on the behalf of others! We are to speak with God from cleansed hearts in the power of the Holy Spirit, claiming His promises and will on behalf of men and women. We are His enforcers! A "stronger than he" must drive the enemy off the battle arena. Our Lord has delegated His authority to His church. We are His ambassadors. As we pray and stand on His Word we contend for souls. When we pray we can free the will and mind of a lost person from the blindness of the enemy. Only then can a lost man have a free choice and respond to the Gospel. Think on that!! Believing prayer is the missing link in our modern evangelism. It is the real battlefield! It is there that we will either win or lose the battle for precious souls. The early church lived in this great truth, and much of the church in the rest of the world has grasped it today. God will not do apart from prayer what HE has promised to do in answer to prayer. We must claim, by faith, the spoils of Calvary.
– Used by permission. Al Whittinghill is an itinerant preacher/teacher of God’s Word with Ambassadors for Christ International, 1355 Terrell Mill Rd., Bldg. 1462-100, Marietta GA 30067. Web: Http://afci.us