Prayer may be the single, most important thing we can do for the Great Commission.
It is evident throughout the Scripture that God has given us free will, and yet it is at the very heart of God’s desire for all men to be saved and receive salvation (1 Timothy 2:4). As the children of God, we share in His desire to reach the world with His message of salvation.
Paul says in Romans 10:1, “Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.” This is what we must do too, pray with this desire in our hearts.
Many find it hard to continue praying for the lost because often, there aren’t instant results and approaching them with the Gospel, at times, seems to actually push them further away. We often give up on them, retreating in disappointment.
How patient God is with the human race. His desire for us to be saved has been constant throughout human history. 2 Peter 3:9 says: “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”
Prayer may be the single, most important thing we can do for the Great Commission. Here are four ways in which you can remember the lost in your prayers and thereby remain in sync with the one burning desire of God.
1. Pray Over the Map
Praying over the nations of the world on a map is a way to cast our nets wide in praying for the lost. It is alleged that the father of modern missions, William Carey made a globe of the world out of scrap pieces of leather for this purpose.
You can go by praying for countries instinctively, or you can begin from one end of the map to another. You can even select a few countries where the number of non-believers is exceptionally high. There are smartphone applications to help you with that.
Another way of doing it would be praying for a specific group of people. For instance, you might have a heart to pray for people belonging to a particular ethnicity, religion or no religion at all. Look up some statistics to locate your people of interest on the map and pray for them.
The options are endless. You can involve your children in this too and make it one of their activities. Hence, if you are someone burdened to pray for the lost around the world, get yourself a map!
2. Pray for and show Hospitality to International Students
Students away from their home countries and loved ones are often in need of a good support system that they need a family away from home to love and care for them.
My own spiritual life was enriched in such a way when I was invited to an open house, held every month by a believer who happened to live nearby a university and had a passion for cooking. We had games, a time to chit chat and meet new faces and of course plenty of delicious home cooked food to enjoy.
Once everyone had eaten, our host drew our attention to the Word of God. It then occurred to me that many of the students in the house were not believers. It was such a great way to share the Gospel with international students while building a relationship of love and trust with them.
Do you live in a country packed with international students, and probably have a passion for cooking? This could be one creative way for you to include the lost in your prayers as you get to know them by name.
3. Pray for the lost in your church
In his parable of the lost lamb, Jesus emphasized how important that little lamb was who despite being part of the herd, went astray. The parable of the wheat and tares tells of the same reality that there will be those in the church who are not saved. “Christians” who attend church can be as lost as any non-believer, and they need our fervent prayers just as any other lost soul would do.
Once someone, from a church I used to attend, confided that while he was actively involved in almost every church related activity, he felt that he lacked the sort of conviction his parents had. Thankfully, it was the beginning of a deeper discovery of God for him, but sadly, many attend church without an encounter with God. It was rather an eye-opening concern for me; an unfortunate reminder that the harvest is also inside the house of God.
4. Pray for Missionaries
We might have our own list of lost souls to pray for, but also remember our missionaries who travel across the globe to reach out to those outside their home countries.
Ask for God’s wisdom and protection for them as they continue to minister to the lost in hostile and dangerous countries. Pray for their good health, financial provision and safety. Pray for their children or families that they’ve left behind, and above all, pray that the Lord of the Harvest will send out more workers (Mat 9:35-38).
Know that the prayers you offer to the Lord for our missionaries have the power to bring a multitude into the presence of our Lord. Therefore, I urge you to add missionaries on your list too. It’s a great way to pray for the lost.
These are some of the many ways in which you can pray for the lost whether they are near or far, known or complete strangers.