God is sovereign over all his creation. The early church’s prayer was motivated through worship of our Sovereign God. Yes, there was concern for people and issues, but the great motivation was that this Sovereign God had revealed himself in Jesus the Christ and their response was worship (Acts 4:23ff). Both in Romans 1:5 and 3 John 1:7, the motivation of both Paul and John is for the sake of the Name!
21st Century followers of Jesus are no less motivated. In the Old Testament, the prophet spoke the word of God to the people. In the New Testament, the Spirit of Christ (who was in the prophets – 1 Peter 1:10-12) is in all of the people of God. When our lives are centered in Jesus, the Spirit will guide each of us to value that which he values.
Many aspects of our theological understanding of Soteriology may be debated. But one thing is for certain. Jesus Christ came to save sinners. And we are to pray for their salvation.
“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be make for allmen, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (NKJV)
The NLT translates the same passage: “I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. 2 Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. 3 This is good and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.”
God’s patience in this present era gives opportunity for more to experience His grace.
“ But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3: 8-9, NKJV)
It is through prayer the Father births his kingdom concerns into the heart of the disciple. Reading the Bible can give one cognitive knowledge of God’s purpose. One should never minimize the importance of the written word of God. But it is through intimacy with the Father in prayer that the passion and vision to participate in God’s purpose(s) for the nations is birthed! Thus, one who worships Jesus cannot know the purpose of God apart from the written word of God, nor can they experience the passion of God apart from the intimacy of prayer. Prayer and scripture go together!
Humans are naturally bent toward “self” (Matthew 10:39). Both God and the person are vitally interested in the human soul. The wording in the New Testament clearly teaches that one’s ‘lostness” is ultimately attributable to the will or fault of the one who suffers loss (Luke 9:25). In order to experience the blessings of God, one’s desire for God must exceed one’s desire for self!
“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:18, NKJV)
We join God’s majestic purpose for the people of the world when we pray. Prayer extends the work of the Holy Spirit who changes the attitude of those who hear the truth about Jesus and who He is.
Keep a spiritual diary of your prayers for friends and family who have not yet become followers of Jesus. List their name(s) and the date you began to pray. As you read Scripture and pray for them, record thoughts that come to mind and ways the Spirit leads you to pray. When your friend or family members becomes a follower of Jesus, record the date and begin to pray for their spiritual growth.
As we look toward the National Day of Prayer, perhaps God will enable us to pray prayers that touch the heart of God!