I recall those times in prayer when tears would saturate the cushion beneath me, those times when all my mascara was washed off and my foundation was practically gone. Those times when I could visualize the multitudes standing in a valley of decision wandering aimlessly groping about in the darkness. Times when the people were so real that I could have outlined them with a marker, and their need for a Savior was undisputed.
True that last sentence is a fragmented, but the worst part of the paragraph is the word recall. The word recall indicates that it came from past memories and not a current experience. Lord help me.
The Lord has been dealing with me for the past year or so about praying for those who are lost. Truthfully I have been hit and miss on the assignment which reveals the level of my commitment to prayer.
Samuel Chadwick said that prayer is both a discipline and an education. I must say I am in the process of learning both of these truths as the Holy Spirit continues to pull me to a position of prayer.
Please understand that I am referring to intercessory prayer. The kind of praying that seems to come from deep within your soul. I believe this is the kind of praying which James is referring to when he speaks of the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man in 4:16. This is the kind of praying Jesus did. It is listed in Hebrews 5:7, here the writer shows us the heart of Christ in prayer, “…offering up prayers and supplication with strong crying and tears…”. We read about the prayer life of the prophets, Hannah, John Hyde, Charles Finney, George Fox, George Muller, Spurgeon, and I am sure there are countless others whose names are not recorded here yet are known for being in the Kings court often making their petitions known for the needs of others. Please allow me to tell you how the Lord is bringing me back to this position of prayer.
Recently someone in my Sunday School class requested prayer for a man named Steve (in his 50’s) who is an alcoholic dying with cancer, and without Christ. He is known to be verbally and physically abusive to his aging mother who he lives with. As if this were not bad enough, I then learned that Steve wanted nothing to do with Christ. He felt like he has lived a life of hell on earth and wasn’t really concerned about eternity.
Needless to say my heart was turned over. For days and yet even still I continue to wonder “how can this be?”. How can one be suspended over the flames of hell and not be concerned….worse yet is how can we as Christians not be? Have we grown so cold that we don’t even stop to pray for him and others like him?
Jesus said that a man cannot come to Him unless the Father draws him. (John 6:44) So my first objective is to touch the Fathers heart of mercy and compassion for a man like Steve who obviously has become a fool. Steve just like the Roman soldiers knows not what he does. For if he truly knew, he would have repented.
The second thing I pray (especially for someone who shows signs of being foolish) is that the Lord, out of His mercy would bring forth the truth to the individual that He is the Almighty and that He ought to be feared. He has the ability and the right to cast us into hell. Yes, I pray that the fear of the Lord and that conviction would begin to occur in their lives and that they would come to know how great the Fathers love is for them. I pray for Steve to repent, to fall upon the Rock of Christ Jesus and to cry out for mercy.
By the time you read this there is a good chance that Steve will have already entered eternity. Where he spends it is yet to be known. He is scheduled for surgery this afternoon, his chances for survival are slim.
Steve has had many people warn him of the grave danger he is in, eternal damnation. Yet I wonder if anyone is praying for him like John Hyde prayed for India. It is said that John Hyde would get on his knees and pray for hours at a time, sometimes all night, crying his heart out for the people of India to come to know Christ.
May God help us to return to our prayer closets to pray for those like Steve and for the people in foreign lands where the gospel is restricted.
There are 102 people dying every minute. Do you realize that in less than 17 hours, we could fill Neyland Stadium (seating capacity 103,000) with dead people who have crossed over into eternity? Sometimes I wonder if I rubbed shoulders with any of them. Did I at some point in my life come in contact with them? Did I ever have a conversation with any of them? And did I in any way, impact their life with the gospel of Jesus Christ? Sadly, I wonder if there is any blood on my hands.
Too often I become occupied with my agenda and not the Lord’s. It is my sincere prayer that the Lord forgive me of this great sin of “failing to pray for you” and that He will ignite a fresh flame to pray for those who are yet to come into His kingdom. To pray for the missionaries on foreign soil and for our ministers of Truth, their responsibility is grand and so is ours.
Rest assured there is a price to paid, sleepless nights, sometimes swollen eyes, time surrendered, a broken heart and a burden far too big for our shoulders to carry, but oh the rewards are indeed priceless.
For joy shall fill heaven when one sinner repents (Luke 15:7)! Consider the thousands around the throne singing and then saying “worthy is the Lamb that was slain…” (Rev 5). We the redeemed shall walk there in that city with everlasting joy upon our heads, all sadness and sorrow will be gone. (Is 35:9 and Is 51:11) We will have the privilege to see the 24 elders fall down before him and cast their crowns before the throne…and to present the golden bowls of incense which are the prayers of the saints. (Rev 4, 5)
May our prayers for others be represented
in that bowl and may they be pleasing unto Him Who sits upon the throne.
May we be moved with compassion back to our prayer closets. May we pray
effectually and fervently for those whom the Lamb was slain; for people
like me, for men like Steve, and for countless others. May we truly devote
ourselves to prayer for we know His coming is soon.