Praying for the Lost

The deepest wounds are inflicted by those who ought to love us the most but do not. Forgiveness is necessary. It’s like cleaning out a stinking, infected wound before pouring in medication for healing.

Notice in the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6 that Jesus added two verses after the Prayer that are too often conveniently overlooked – about forgiveness being necessary for salvation.

Matthew 6:9 In this manner, therefore, pray:

Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.

10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread.

12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.

13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.

15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

When forgiveness reigns in our hearts, then Love can begin to take root and grow. You may never say a word about what’s going on inside of you, but those around you will certainly take note of the change in your attitude.

There are many Scriptures about praying for salvation for others. One of my favorites is a passage in Isaiah 45:1-3.

Thus says the Lord to His anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have held to subdue nations before him, and I will unarm and ungird the loins of kings to open doors before him, so that gates will not be shut.

If God could use a heathen king to speak to His own people, He will surely use me to speak His word in today’s world.

2 I will go before you and level the mountains [to make the crooked places straight]; I will break in pieces the doors of bronze and cut asunder the bars of iron.

God’s intercessors are scarce and extremely precious to Him.

3 And I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know that it is I, the Lord, the God of Israel, Who calls you by your name.

In the third verse notice that God promises you the treasures of darkness (in the heart of the person you’re praying for); there is hidden riches in that dark heart that only He knows exists, Through your prayer God will get glory and praise. That kind of prayer pleases Him very much.

John 1:5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

The Light in this verse is Jesus. The darkness is the realm of those who do not know Jesus. The word comprehend means to be without; I.e. the darkness cannot overcome the Light.

I often ask God to shine His glorious overwhelming Light into the darkness of places and people who need His awesome, pure and holy Light. Ask Him to shine His life-giving Light into your city, county and state government offices;  your local school classrooms and administrative offices. Ask Him to shine His awesome Light into lawyers’ and politicians’ offices. Ask Him to shine brightly in abandoned buildings and places used by those involved in the dark arts. God’s Light is only limited by your lack of imagination, so stir up your spirit to ask Him to confront evil where ever it may be found. He knows all the hiding places. But you must be pure before expecting your prayers to bear fruit.

What to Do in A Flood

Isaiah 32:20 Happy and fortunate are you who cast your seed upon all waters [when the river overflows its banks; for the seed will sink into the mud and when the waters subside, the plants will spring up; you will find it after many days and reap an abundant harvest], you who safely send forth the ox and the donkey[ to range freely].

Isaiah 55:11 So shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth: it shall not return to Me void [without producing any effect, useless], but it shall accomplish that which I please and purpose, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

2 Timothy 4:2-3 Herald and preach the Word! Keep your sense of urgency [stand by, be at hand and ready], whether the opportunity seems to be favorable or unfavorable, [whether it is convenient or inconvenient, whether it is welcome or unwelcome, you as preacher of the Word are to show people in what way their lives are wrong] And convince them, rebuking and correcting, warning and urging and encouraging them, being unflagging and inexhaustible in patience and teaching For the time is coming when [people] will not tolerate (endure) sound and wholesome instruction, but, having ears itching [for something pleasing and gratifying], they will gather to themselves one teacher after another to a considerable number, chosen to satisfy their own liking and to foster the errors they hold,

These three Scripture passages were my prayer while I was teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) in China. God’s word is truly His holy word, powerful and enduring. God is pleased to hear His children use His word in their prayers and conversations with those who don’t yet know Him.

At Christmas and Easter I always took a full class period to tell the story of Jesus’ birth and death, and His resurrection. My students told their friends and students from other schools came to “visit” my classroom on those special days. I was scattering the precious seed on the flood not knowing when or where the seed might take root and bring forth fruit.

I still do that today – scatter the seed of the word whenever possible. The Holy Spirit brings that word back to the hearers’ remembrance when the time is right.

Fear of God

The fear of God is a major theme throughout the Old Testament:

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline – Proverbs 1:7.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding – Psalm 111:10.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding – Proverbs 9:10.

“Should you not fear me?” declares the Lord. “Should you not tremble in my presence?” – Jeremiah 5:22).

Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the people of the world revere him – Psalm 33:8.

Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name – Psalm 86:11.

Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man – Ecclesiastes 12:13.

Let those who fear the LORD say: “His love endures forever”- Psalm 118:4.

The LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love – Psalm 147:11.

He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water” – Revelation 14:7.

We are told in Scripture to fear God. The word translated as “fear” has various meanings in the Hebrew and Greek, and while I am not a scholar of these languages, I understand the issue of fearing a Personality that is limitless in every part of His Triune Being. His very presence demands serious respect. To think that everything we see and hear and sense comes from the Creator-God, we realize His majesty. That’s the beginning of learning who He is.

The next aspect of getting to know God is understanding the willingness of the Father to sacrifice His only Son as payment of our debt of sin. Jesus was under no obligation to buy us back from satan! He was motivated by a desire to reestablish a relationship with us. That’s why He made Adam and Eve to begin with. And He gave them free will to make choices so that His communion with them was not forced. He wanted intimacy by common consent. That makes my choice and my motive critical to my relationship with Him.     

The “Fear of God” and the “Love of God” thus go hand in hand. My concern is that there is little of this kind of relationship in America today. We call ourselves Christian but our relationship with the almighty God is distant and unsatisfying. Some Christians even say that God no longer works in our lives and societies. There is no sense of fear and awe of the intensely intimate Creator-God.

The fear of God is only the beginning of wisdom. And the walk with One so high and lifted up who humbles Himself to walk with us – there is no word to adequately describe the deep satisfaction and peace and pleasure He gives to those who commit to Him in fear and love who has committed to us His very life’s blood.