What does it mean to be lost?
Typically, we think of ‘lost’ in a directional sense. We get lost in Uptown trying to find a new restaurant. We become lost in the grocery store aisles searching for an ingredient in a new recipe. This type of lostness is benign and gives a personal hope of finding our own solution to overcome our situation. We may not be able to find our way around now, but with time we will be able to.
The biblical depiction of what it means to be lost is much more desperate. Instead of showing lostness as a maze where the individual can find their way out, Paul describes it in Ephesians 2 it as a state of being dead. That’s right, dead. There’s no way to find your way out of a situation if you aren’t even breathing.
Paul goes on to further describe the state of being lost in verse 12, writing
“At that time you were without Christ, excluded from the citizenship of Israel, and foreigners to the covenants of promise, without hope and without God in the world.”
To be lost is to be without Christ, outside of God’s covenantal kingdom, and hopeless. The fact that people in our community and around the world are lost is heartbreaking. There are men and women walking around the greater Charlotte area right now who do not even know they are dead, hopeless, and missing out on the source of life and hope.
But God loves to save lost people and use those whom he has saved to work in others’ lives.
Who do you know that is lost?
Before reading about tangible ways to pray for the lost, stop and prayerfully write down three lost people God has placed in your life.
These could be anyone-a parent, coworker, child, friend…the list goes on and on. It doesn’t have to be someone you see daily or a person you already have a strong emotional connection-it just has to be someone who needs the life-giving blood of Jesus. Commit to praying for them by name every day.
If you cannot think of anyone in your life who is not a Christian, pray for God to make someone known to you whom He is pursuing. Get more involved in your community or workplace and make friends with people outside our church. The church and her members are not designed to be a holy huddle; we are the people whom he has saved to proclaim Himself to the lost (1 Peter 2:9). If you are a Christian and reading this, then that is your call too.
How to Pray for the Lost
The greatest need lost people have is salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Therefore, praying for their individual salvation is paramount. This can be a one-line prayer like “Lord, save Joe and Sally.” This prayer is wonderful!
However, these one-line prayers often grow tired on our lips. When we pray the same words day after day we can grow bored, and when we get bored we may abandon it altogether. But the Bible refreshes our language for prayer. Two of our core values as a church are Biblical Authority and Prayerful Dependence; praying the words of Scripture help foster that dependence while recognizing the authority of God’s word.
Here are examples of ways to pray for the salvation of lost people God has placed in your life using his word.
Pray they would be born again by water and Spirit. When Nicodemus asks Jesus how to be saved, Jesus replies “Truly I tell you, unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). Pray for your lost coworkers to be born again by water and Spirit.
Pray God will circumcise their heart. To be circumcised in the Old Testament was a sign of entering into God’s covenant. In our present-day physical circumcision is not necessary to be in God’s covenant, but a circumcision of the heart by the Spirit of God is (Deut. 30:6, Romans 2:28-29). Pray for God to circumcise the hearts of your lost family members.
Pray God will replace their heart of stone with a heart of flesh. A heart of stone is hardened to God and His Word, but a softened heart of flesh is receptive. Pray for God to change the heart of the lost people in your life. “I will give them integrity of heart and put a new spirit within them; I will remove their heart of stone from their bodies and give them a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 11:19).
Pray God would raise them from the dead. “You were dead in your trespasses and sins…but God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love that he had for us made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses.” (Ephesians 2:1,4-5). Pray for God to raise your lost loved ones from the dead because of His great love.
Pray for other believers to come into their lives. God loves to use a multitude of His own to bring the lost to Himself. Pray that other Christians will come into the lives of and share the gospel with the lost people you are praying for. “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:6).
Chad Gahafer is a summer intern at Christ Community.