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Five Essentials When Praying for the Lost, Week 6
by Tom Goodman
February 26, 2009

What makes prayer effective, especially prayer for the lost?  For the last several weeks in LeaderLines we've "camped out" in the words of 1 Timothy 2:1-8 (Msg).  We'll wrap up this series today.  Look once more at these words:

The first thing I want you to do is pray.  Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know....  He wants not only us but everyone saved, you know, everyone to get to know the truth we've learned: that there's one God and only one, and one Priest-Mediator between God and us -- Jesus, who offered himself in exchange for everyone held captive by sin, to set them all free.  Eventually the news is going to get out.  This and this only has been my appointed work: getting this news to those who have never heard of God, and explaining how it works by simple faith and plain truth.  Since prayer is at the bottom of all this, what I want mostly is for men to pray -- not shaking angry fists at enemies but raising holy hands to God.

According to this text, there are 5 essentials when praying for the lost:

We've looked at four essentials already, and you can review them by clicking on the hyperlinks in the list above.  Here's one more thing that needs to be right in order for your prayers to have impact:  You must be the right person.

The Scripture section concludes with this word:  "Since prayer is at the bottom of all this, what I want mostly is for men to pray -- not shaking angry fists at enemies but raising holy hands to God."

If your relationship to God is not right because of impurity, or if your relationship to others is not right because of dissension, you're not the right person to pray for the salvation of your friend.  But the good news is you can become the right person.  In verse 8, Paul talks about the person you need to be by describing the kind of hands you should raise up to God in your conversations with him.

First, he says our hands should be holy hands.  In other words, our relationship to God should be right.  In terms of our inward thoughts and outward actions, we should be the kind of people God wants us to be.  Scripture after scripture connects together the effectiveness of our prayers with the purity of our life:  If our life isn't pure, our prayers won't be effective.

Second, he turns from our relationship with God to our relationship with each other and says our hands should be united hands if we want effective prayers.  He says when we pray we should be free from anger and resentment.

And though God wants us all praying, in 1 Timothy 2, it is the men God has particularly in mind.  When God sees his church praying, Paul said what he wants particularly to see lifted up are holy hands, united hands, and manly hands.

Now, the Bible does not limit the work of prayer to men, but the Bible does stress the manly nature of prayer work.  Paul writes, "What I want mostly is for men to pray."  The word "mostly" is connected with the word "men," not the word "pray."  That means you don't read it, "What I want mostly is for men to pray," but you say, "What I want mostly is for men to pray."

I don't think this is meant to privilege men but to provoke men.  It's been my experience that men have been much more likely to leave such things to women.  Women outnumber men in most churches, and they are more likely than men to have a routine of prayer and devotional reading.  I imagine it was no different in Paul's day, and I believe he was encouraging the men to step up to the plate when it came to praying.  According to the Bible, prayer is "warfare" and "wrestling," which are images that capture the male attention.  It's manly hands that should be raised up to God in prayer.

So, as we end this LeaderLines series, ask yourself five questions:

Do I have the right priority?  Am I really committed to and dependent on prayer?

Do I have the right perspective?  Do I really believe people without Christ are lost?  Do I really believe that God wants everyone to hear the good news?

Do I know the right solution?  Do I really believe the cross is the only bridge that unites us to God?

Do I maintain the right hope?  Do I expect my prayer to be answered?

Am I the right person?  In my relationship to you, Lord, and in my relationship to others, do I have anything that could hinder my prayers?

Blessings on your prayer life!


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