Praying for the Lost

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1 Praying for the Lost Charles F. Stanley - In Touch Ministries

2 Seasons of prayer

3 01 for god so loved Is there someone you love who is currently lost to God? Does your heart break at the thought of that person experiencing an eternity of suffering without Him? As much as it breaks your heart, did you know your heavenly Father longs even more to welcome that person into eternal life as one of His own? It can be so painful to watch others struggle needlessly without God. We may even find ourselves angry at God, blaming Him for our loved one s unbelief and resistance. If only You did this, God, they would turn to You! But our anger would be unfounded. God has gone to great and miraculous lengths to reveal Himself to a lost and dying world. Those who refuse to acknowledge Him face an imprisonment of their own choosing. That s why it s so important that we do all we can to proclaim God s message of redemption. He has commissioned us to join Him in sharing His offer of salvation with those we encounter in life, and to tell them about our own journey of faith in Jesus Christ. When we do our part and God does His, we can have hope that one day we will be able to rejoice over what was once lost when it is found (Luke 15). As you pray for your lost friends, relatives, and even enemies, know that God is at work. He is persistently knocking on the doors of people s hearts around the globe. And, as long as there is breath in one s lungs, it is never too late for that person to repent at the feet of Jesus and accept His offer of forgiveness and redemption. May this booklet of Dr. Stanley s teachings on prayer and evangelism comfort and guide you in this season of life, as you pray for the salvation of others and share the good news of Christ with them. From your friends at In Touch Ministries

4 02 believing in jesus God made the way of salvation simple, yet there is so much confusion about it. Some people say all we have to do is believe in Jesus. In their view, repentance and submission to the lordship of Christ are not necessary for salvation. Others think joining a church, being baptized, giving money, and doing good works are all that s required. As we pray for the salvation of others, we should be clear about what exactly that means. Salvation is by faith and not works, so we need to clarify what it means to believe in Jesus. This expression encompasses so much more than merely believing what the Bible says about Him. Even demons believe in Him ( James 2:19), so a saving faith is more than mental agreement with the truth. It includes an acknowledgement that Jesus is the Son of God who died for our sins, as well as a recognition of our own sinfulness. We become sorrowful under the conviction of the Holy Spirit and desire a changed life. Believing in Jesus includes complete trust in Him for salvation, repentance from past sins, and surrender of our lives fully to Him. In the New Testament, salvation and repentance are often equated. When Jesus spoke of salvation in Luke 5:32, He said, I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance. Peter also spoke of salvation when he wrote that the Lord does not wish for any to perish but for all to come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9). BELIEVING IN JESUS INCLUDES COMPLETE TRUST IN HIM FOR SALVATION, REPENTANCE FROM PAST SINS, AND SURRENDER OF OUR LIVES FULLY TO HIM. Another area of confusion is the lordship of Christ. Some people want to claim Jesus as Savior but not as Lord. They desire His forgiveness and a guarantee of heaven, but they don t want Him telling them how to live. The problem with this approach is not only that it is extremely selfish, but it s also contrary to the very identity of the Son of God. He is the Lord Jesus Christ, and we cannot remove the fact that He is our Lord and God. Those who are truly repentant are willing to submit to Christ and let Him lead them in a new direction.

5 After salvation, we begin a new life. Although we don t understand all that s involved at that moment, the Holy Spirit works within us to convict us of sin, draw us to repentance, and guide us on a new path of obedience. We all begin as spiritual babies, but the Lord wants us to continually grow in Him, and repentance is a large part of this process. If we stop turning away from sin, we will stop maturing and remain infants in Christ (1 Cor. 3:1-2). So, let us always desire to please the Lord and do the good works He has planned for us (Eph. 2:8-10). For if we are genuinely saved, we will never be happy or satisfied living in sin because we now have a new nature through the Holy Spirit who indwells us. When He convicts us of sin, our first response should be to ask Him for forgiveness and praise God that He is always ready and willing to do so! 03 HOW GOD REVEALS HIMSELF TO PEOPLe Who are you praying for to receive Christ? If you asked this person, Who is God? you might receive any one of a number of answers. The atheist would say, There is no god, the agnostic, We can t know if there s a god, and the materialist, I don t need a god. Even among those who believe in God, there is no consensus on what He s like. Some people see Him as an indulgent father ready to grant all their requests, while others think He s a cruel dictator who mistreats anyone who gets out of line. For deists, God is an impersonal force who created the universe but doesn t interact with His creatures. i n t o u c h.o r g / p r ay

6 The Christian perspective stands apart from all these. We believe God exists and that He cares enough to give us a clear picture of His character, knowledge, and power. Instead of leaving people to imagine who He is based on their own speculation, education, or experiences, God reveals Himself in four clear and specific ways. 1. GOD HAS MADE HIMSELF KNOWN THROUGH HIS CREATION. Psalm 19:1 says, The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. At the time David wrote this psalm, all that was known about the sun, moon, and stars was what could be observed with the human eye, and that alone was enough to leave David in awe of the Lord. Today, we have an even greater perspective thanks to telescopes and satellites. Yet even though our understanding of the amazing order and complexity of these heavenly bodies has increased, many people still choose to rely on human ideas to account for their existence instead of seeing the reality of a wise and powerful Creator who designed and controls this vast and glorious universe. Romans 1:20 adds, For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. From the vastness of the stellar universe to the intricacies of cells and atoms, every created thing testifies to God s character and might. Who can stand in the face of a tornado, hurricane, earthquake, or tidal wave without sensing God s mighty power? Or who can walk through a forest, climb a mountain, or watch a sunset without marveling at the Creator s goodness and beauty? Let us pray that our unbelieving friends will simply respond to the proof the Lord has placed all around them, catch a glimpse of Him, and gain a personal understanding of who He is. 2. GOD REVEALS HIMSELF THROUGH OUR CONSCIENCE. Romans 1:19 says, That which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. We all have an inner witness to the existence and righteousness of God our conscience. Every culture has standards of morality, because God has given us an inner ability to discern right and wrong. Later on, in his letter to the Romans, Paul wrote that even Gentiles, who don t have the Law, instinctively obey it because it s written in their heart, and their conscience either accuses or defends them (2:14-15). 3. WE SEE GOD THROUGH HIS WRITTEN WORD. The Bible we hold in our hands today contains truth that we could never know apart from God s direct disclosure. He spoke to people in Old Testament times through His prophets (Heb. 1:1). These prophecies were never made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God (2 Pet. 1:21). They were guided by the Spirit to relay exactly what God told them.

7 Although the Scriptures reflect some of each writer s personality and vocabulary, ultimately God breathed out His Word through their pens. This is what we call inspiration, and according to 2 Timothy 3:16-17, All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. The Bible was given not only to reveal God, but to guide and transform His people. This is our instruction book for life. 4. GOD REVEALED HIMSELF THROUGH HIS SON. According to Hebrews 1:2, in these last days, God has spoken to us in His Son. The eternal Son of God took on human flesh and came to earth to live among His people. Everything He did revealed the Father s character, power, and purpose because He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature (Heb. 1:3). That s why Jesus could say to His disciples, He who has seen Me has seen the Father ( John 14:9). The issue is not if our lost friends have enough revelation from God to give them an accurate understanding of Him, but whether they will accept what He s already shown them about Himself. Let us pray that they would not be swayed by erroneous perceptions of God, which come from those who try to suppress His revealed truth (Rom. 1:18). We can also make it our ambition to pay attention to every aspect of God s selfrevelation, so we will understand clearly who He is and be able to tell others about Him. 04 Equipped to evangelize If you have been a Christian for any length of time, you ve learned that introducing others to Jesus is no ordinary task. We can t force anyone to accept forgiveness and freedom from sin. Salvation is a supernatural work of God; nobody can make it happen. But we ought to be faithful in sharing the message of God s love and leading others into a personal relationship with Christ when the opportunity arises which is probably more often than we think. The way to reach people who are blind, captive, and spiritually dead is through the divine work of almighty God who does not wish for any to perish but for all to come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9). We are His tools, but He is the power, so we should speak confidently about the work He has done in our lives. We are

8 indeed ambassadors for Christ (2 Cor. 5:20), and like earthly ambassadors, our function is to faithfully represent the One who sends us. Since salvation is the supernatural work of God, He provides divine equipment for our use. The apostle Paul summarized those tools this way: For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline (2 Tim. 1:7). Some translations render the word discipline as a sound mind. In other words, God gives us three tools for witnessing: power, love, and a sound mind. power THERE ARE THREE SUPERNATURAL CHANGE AGENTS WE DEPEND ON WHEN SHARING OUR FAITH. The Power of the Gospel The gospel is the light that opens blind eyes, rescues captives, and revives the dead. It is the good news of what Jesus Christ did for the sake of all mankind. Sharing our faith means passing along this foundational truth: Christ died on the cross for our sins, was buried, and rose again from the dead. Focus your conversation on the person of Jesus Christ. Questions like Who do you think Jesus Christ was? or Why do you think He died? will lead non-christians to contemplate the foundational elements of salvation. We can talk about Christ with confidence, believing with the apostle Paul, I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (Rom. 1:16). i n t o u c h.o r g / p r ay

9 The Power of the Holy Spirit After Jesus resurrection and ascension, the church s task was to proclaim to all nations the forgiveness of sins. How were they to handle such a colossal undertaking? By the power of the Holy Spirit. You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth (Acts 1:8). As you seek to share Christ with others, the Spirit of God will lead, empower, and enable you. He ll guide your mind and heart as you present the truth and will prepare unbelieving hearts to receive it. Salvation occurs only through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. You cannot make your friends realize their sinful state. You cannot make them believe in God s holiness or eternal judgment. Who can? The Holy Spirit. Scripture says, When [the Holy Spirit] comes, [He] will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment ( John 16:8). How does the Holy Spirit do this? He speaks to us through the Word of God, prayer, and other people. The Power of Prayer Sharing our faith means that we are entering into spiritual warfare. The forces of darkness will always strive against the power of God. Our mightiest weapon is specific, persistent prayer on behalf of our lost friends and family. When we pray for an unbelieving friend, we confess our dependence upon God for His leadership, wisdom, and timing. Considering how fervently we desire to see lost friends come to Christ, it can be amazing how little time we actually spend directly interceding on their behalf. We should be asking them how we can pray for them. Few people will refuse to let someone pray about their problems, and doing so prepares the way for introducing them to Christ. Love LOVE IS THE SECOND TOOL THAT EMPOWERS WITNESSING (2 TIM. 1:7). THE UNCONDITIONAL, CARING LOVE OF CHRISTIANS REVEALS THE TRUTH OF JESUS TO THE UNBELIEVER AND AUTHENTICATES HIS MESSAGE OF SALVATION: BY THIS ALL MEN WILL KNOW THAT YOU ARE MY DISCIPLES, IF YOU HAVE LOVE FOR ONE ANOTHER (JOHN 13:35). WE EXPRESS THIS LOVE IN TWO WAYS THAT DEMONSTRATE CHRIST S PRESENCE IN OUR LIVES AND MANIFEST THE REMARKABLE CHANGE SALVATION BRINGS.

10 Love in deed 1 JOHN 3:18 There are many practical ways to exhibit divine love. For example, we can invite a couple over for dinner, bring them food during a time of illness, or babysit their children to give them a special night out. Unless we are willing to make the effort to make the love of God tangible, few people will listen to our words. Love in word PROVERBS 31:26 This means we encourage, praise, and point out the positive qualities of our lost friends. Our conversation reveals much about our faith. Do we gossip? Do we talk sarcastically about others? Do we grumble and complain? Our verbal lifestyle testifies to the inner reality of Christ. Do our words attest to the care, concern, and compassion that Christ has for the lost? A SOUND MIND THE THIRD TOOL GOD GIVES US IS A SOUND MIND. CHRISTIAN FAITH IS BASED ON FACT NOT FICTION. JOSH MCDOWELL, A LEADING CHRISTIAN APOLOGIST, SAYS, MY HEART CANNOT REJOICE IN WHAT MY MIND REJECTS. SHARING OUR FAITH DOESN T MEAN WE ARE UNREASONABLE OR IRRATIONAL. RATHER, WE OFFER THE HISTORICAL, TRUSTWORTHY TESTIMONY OF SCRIPTURE. SUCH EVIDENCE INCLUDES: The Fact of the Resurrection Not only did the risen Christ show Himself to His doubting disciples; He also appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time (1 Cor. 15:6). The resurrection is indeed a concrete, historical fact. The Fact of Fulfilled Scripture Hundreds of Old Testament prophecies are fulfilled in the New Testament, thousands of years after they were written. These include the amazing prediction of many intricate details regarding Jesus birth and death. The Fact of Manuscript and Archaeological Evidence The Bible is one of the most verifiable documents in all of history. There are thousands of authentic Greek New Testament manuscripts and numerous Hebrew Old Testament copies. Archaeological evidence through the centuries has consistently verified the cultural and historical details presented in the Bible. God has given His followers the power of the gospel as well as sacrificial love and a mind able to absorb the knowledge of Him. Using these tools, you can reach out to non-believing friends in the power of the Holy Spirit, ready to share your faith with confidence and joy.

11 05 INTRODUCING A FRIEND TO GOD Do you have a friend who wants to know God? Does he yearn to experience the Lord s comforting presence, power, and wisdom? That s good, because God loves him and wants to have a personal relationship with him. However, you ll need to explain to him that one thing separates him from a relationship with God sin. You and I sin whenever we fail to live by the Lord s holy standard. In fact, Romans 3:23 tells us: All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Furthermore, Romans 6:23 explains that the penalty for sin is death separation from God, and living in hell forever. No matter how hard we try, we cannot save ourselves or get rid of our sins. We can t earn our way to heaven by being good, going to church, or being baptized (Eph. 2:8-9). Understanding how helpless we are because of our sins, God sent His only Son, Jesus, to save us. Jesus Christ lived a perfect, sinless life, and then died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins (Rom. 5:8). Three days later, He rose from the dead showing that He had triumphed over sin and death once and for all. It all starts with accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. Jesus makes it possible for us to have a relationship with the Father and eternal life through His death on the cross and resurrection (Rom. 5:10). Romans 10:9 promises, If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. God created us and loves us no matter who we are or what we ve done. He wants us to experience the profound depth of His care. Therefore, we need only to tell Him that we are willing to trust Him for salvation. Tell Him in your own words or use this simple prayer: LORD JESUS, I ask You to forgive my sins and save me from eternal separation from God. By faith, I accept Your work and death on the cross as sufficient payment for my sins. Thank You for providing the way for me to know You and to have a relationship with my heavenly Father. Through faith in You, I have eternal life. Thank You also for hearing my prayers and loving me unconditionally. Please give me the strength, wisdom, and determination to walk in the center of Your will. In Jesus name, amen.

12 If you or your friend just prayed this prayer, congratulations! THIS IS THE BEST DECISION ANYONE CAN EVER MAKE ONE THAT WILL CHANGE THEIR LIFE FOREVER! PLEASE LET US KNOW ABOUT THIS DECISION BY ING US AT OR CALLING SO WE CAN REJOICE TOGETHER. OR, IF YOU D JUST LIKE FURTHER INFORMATION ABOUT WHAT IT MEANS TO HAVE A RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD THROUGH JESUS CHRIST, VISIT INTOUCH.ORG/BELIEVE. YOU CAN ALSO CONTACT US AT INTOUCH.ORG/CONTACT OR CALL COPYRIGHT 2018 BY IN TOUCH MINISTRIES. Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible, Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. ( Used by permission.

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