Praying For Others Nearby
By Alvin J. VanderGriend
God wants you to join Him in His great plan of salvation for this world, and He wants you to begin your work with Him in prayer. Through prayer you can have a remarkable influence in your neighborhood or workplace. Your prayers can go where you can’t go, and they can do what you can’t do. That’s because God, the Lord of heaven and earth, chooses to work through you as a praying believer in Christ.
As you pray for your neighbors, God moves you to care more and more about them, and as you grow in your care for your neighbors, God leads you to show them the love of Christ in practical ways. Through God’s love and leading, you help make Christ and Christianity attractive.
And just as praying leads to caring, caring leads to sharing. As you show your neighbors in various ways that you care for them, God gives you opportunities to share the good news of Jesus Christ with your neighbors. This means you will be working with God to bless your neighbors by giving them the opportunity to believe and be saved, to become part of the family of God. God will be working through you to build up His church and extend His kingdom!
Interceding for Those Who Can’t Pray for Themselves
"The Lord...said to Eliphaz the Temanite, ‘I am angry with you and your two friends...Go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly’...And the Lord accepted Job’s prayer" (Job 42:7-9).
Several recent polls in North America show that about 80 percent of the population do not have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. That means they do not regularly have access to God’s throne of grace. They may try to pray, but they cannot get through to God, since access to the throne is only through Jesus Christ.
That is a horrible, hopeless state to be in--cut off from the One who is the source of all grace and blessing. That was the state in which Eliphaz and his friends found themselves, at least temporarily, when God came to them and said, "My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer." This was God’s way of saying, "I won’t listen to your prayers. You don’t have access. You’d better get Job to pray for you."
The word in the Greek language that our Bibles translate as intercession means "having freedom of access." It was originally a technical term that meant meeting with a king in order to make a request. In the Bible intercession means seeking the presence and attention of God on behalf of others.
The privilege of access is given to believers not simply so that we may ask for ourselves but also so that we may ask for others, especially those who have no access. God has so much to give them but, having determined long ago to give in response to asking, He withholds His gracious giving until we intercede.
When believers begin to pray seriously for their neighbors, things begin to happen. When members of a church planted a House of Prayer in an apartment complex to pray for those who lived there, the manager became a Christian, drug dealers moved out, crime rates went down, many tenants started going to church, several Bible studies started, and ten people made commitments to Christ. The difference was so evident that the police, discovering the reason for the changes, asked the church to consider planting similar Houses of Prayer in other complexes.
What do you think God wants to see happen in the lives of the people around you? Are you willing to be the one to intercede so that God may accomplish His will in your neighborhood through your prayers?
* What would it be like to be a non-Christian who had no one to pray for you?
* Consider what it would mean to you to live in a neighborhood in which believers in Light-Houses of Prayer prayed regularly for you.
Prayer-Starters for Praying Job 42:7-9
Thank God for the privilege of access to His throne, opened up for you through Jesus Christ.
If you have failed to use your privilege of access to the throne on behalf of unsaved persons, confess this sin to God and claim His forgiving grace.
Tell God of your readiness to be a faithful intercessor, and ask His help in doing so,
Seek God’s guidance in praying for some persons or families who cannot or do not pray for themselves: Envision each person or family for whom you are interceding. Ask God to reveal to you, as you hold them in your mind’s eye, what He wants to accomplish in their lives. Be still before God and wait patiently before Him. Pray for the things He brings to mind.
Interceding for the Unsaved
"Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved" (Romans 10:1).
The Bible clearly requires us to pray for persons who are not saved. In 1 Timothy 2 we are reminded that God wants all persons to be saved, and we are urged "therefore" to pray for everyone. Jesus modeled prayer for the unsaved when He prayed, "My prayer is not for [My disciples] alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message" (John 17:20). And the apostle Paul was praying for the unsaved when he prayed his heart’s desire for the Israelites (Romans 10:1).
How should we pray for those who are not saved?
First, we should pray that the unsaved will be drawn by the Father. Jesus said, "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him" (John 6:44).
Second, we should pray that those who hear the gospel will understand it. Jesus warns that the evil one will come and snatch away the gospel seed sown in a person’s heart if it is not understood (Matthew 13:19). The spiritual understanding and enlightenment required must come from God, who is moved to respond to the prayers of His people.
Third, we should pray that unbelievers’ eyes will be opened so that they can see the light. As we pray this prayer, we will once again be contending with the adversary, "the god of this age [who] has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ" (2 Corinthians 4:4). Opening spiritual eyes is, of course, God’s business. But releasing God’s power to open blinded eyes is prayer business, to which God calls us.
God honors prayer for the unsaved. A House of Prayer prayed for a young man who had run away from home and joined a gang. The young man returned home and made a commitment to Christ. Later his grandfather gave his life to Christ, also in response to prayer.
Another House of Prayer saw four families come to the Lord after eight months of weekly meetings to pray for their neighbors.
This is prayer-evangelism; evangelism in which God moves in the hearts and lives of people in response to the earnest prayers of believers. Who among those who will believe in Christ are you praying for?
* Do you care enough about the unsaved to pray earnestly for their salvation?
* Would you care more if it were your own children or family members who were unsaved? Remember that all unsaved persons are wayward sons and daughters of God’s family. God does not want "anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9).
Prayer-Starters for Praying (Romans 10:1)
Praise God, who "so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall...have eternal life" (John 3:16).
Thank God for those who prayed for you and helped to open the door of salvation for you.
If you do not have a burden for the unsaved, ask God to put such a burden on your heart.
Commit yourself to partner with Jesus Christ in praying for those yet to be saved.
Pray for unsaved persons, using the following Bible verses:
Ask the Father to draw these persons to Himself (John 6:44).
Ask God to give them an understanding of the gospel and to forbid the devil from snatching away what is sown in their hearts (Matthew 13:19).
Ask God to open their spiritual eyes, since "the god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers" (2 Corinthians 4:4).
Pray for opportunities to relate to your neighbors in which you are able to "be wise in the way you act toward outsiders" and to "make the most of every opportunity," with "your conversation...always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone" (Colossians 4:5-6).
– From Developing a Prayer-Care-Share Lifestyle, by Alvin J. VanderGriend and others. Copyright © 1999. Used by permission of Harvest Prayer Ministries, Terre Haute, Indiana.