Should you pray for the lost? I mean, as if it’s crushing you like a huge weight? Let’s step back 2000 years.
You and Paul are walking past the synagogue of Corinth, a building where he is unwelcome and could be beaten for trying to attend the Sabbath service. He sees dozens of men inside, chanting a psalm. His eyes grow misty: “You know,” he finally gets out, “I pray for them and for all of my fellow Israelites, constantly, that they might have redemption in the Messiah. It’s a burden on my soul, to see them saved. I can taste it, I ache for it.”
“I would give up everything I have in Jesus just to see the nation of Israel come to his feet. No exaggeration; all of it, 100%.”
- God works out all things for my good; I would forego that.
- The Holy Spirit prays for me, constantly; I would unplug that.
- I have a purpose in God’s eternal plan; I would allow my name to be erased from it.
- “Save them, not me!” I would cry out.
- I was predestined to be like Christ for eternity; I would give that up.
- I felt God’s call on me to believe on the Damascus Road; I would rewrite that history.
- I was given the verdict that I am absolutely right with God my Judge; I would petition to have that decision reversed.
- I would allow charges to be brought against me.
- I am on my way to the glory of the final resurrection; I would willingly get in the other line, for those who will be resurrected to damnation
- I would make myself forget that Christ died for sinners. I would bare my chest to trouble and hardship without God’s kind protection.
- I would settle for being less than a conqueror, in fact, a loser.
- I would let death be the victor over me.
- I would allow demons to do their worst to me.
- I would taunt anything, in all creation, I would dare them to demolish me and separate me from God.
“It’s not how the system works. But if it were up to me? If it rested on me, the salvation of Israel? Then it would be ‘Damn me,’” he concludes. ‘Damn me to hell.’”
“But, that is not God’s plan,” he concludes. “And so I take all that frustration and anxiety and dread – and patience and hope and love! – and pour all that energy into my prayers for Israel.”
PS. I cannot recommend too highly the little classic, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, by J. I. Packer (Kindle version HERE). He shows how people who appreciate God’s sovereignty must logically be driven to pray for the lost.
Bible texts: Paul prays for the Israelites Romans 10:1; his willingness to be damned if they would come to Christ, Romans 9:1-3; the blessings he would be willing to forego, from Romans 8:26-39.
“A most unusual wish: ‘Damn me to hell!'” by Gary S. Shogren, Ph.D. in New Testament Exegesis, professor at Seminario ESEPA, San José, Costa Rica