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For most of us, the majority of people we meet in our daily lives are those who have not turned to God for salvation. So far, they have not "surrendered" to Jesus' kindness. How should we pray for such people? When we look at Paul's prayers, we find that he did not neglect praying for the unsaved.
This next list shows the type of focus Paul had, when he prayed for such people, or when he asked others to pray for them. As with the prayers described in the previous section, these are specific examples, which would not necessarily encompass everything he prayed, but would be sufficient to teach us the basic way to pray for the unsaved.
Prayer for the salvation of the people of his nation.
Prayer for the salvation of leaders and authorities.
Prayer for everyone who would be exposed to the message about Jesus. (This is a prayer for Paul - one that is also an indirect prayer for the unsaved.)
Two additional passages could be mentioned - both of which are commands, rather than examples of Paul himself praying. In 1 Timothy 2:1-4, Paul commands Timothy to pray for "everyone." One of the reasons is so that they may be saved. In Ephesians 6:18, Paul also makes a general statement, encouraging his readers to pray "all kinds of prayers." In this passage, he focuses more on praying for the "saints" (that is, for people who belong to God), but the phrase "all kinds of prayers" would most likely also include praying for the unsaved.
When compared to the PART 1 (prayers for those who belong to God), this list of prayer requests for the unsaved is rather short. It may be that Paul had a greater focus on the spiritual growth of those who already showed evidence of God working in their lives. But if so, it would not indicate that he had less concern for the unsaved - especially considering the fact that he would be willing to take their deserved punishment upon himself, if it were possible.
There are probably two reasons (at least) for this greater emphasis on prayer requests for those who belonged to God: First, he was writing to them, so he would naturally tell them what he desired for them. Second, as those who were saved began to grow spiritually, the changes in their lives would have an impact on the lives of their unsaved neighbors. And so, Paul's prayers for those who were saved would actually have an impact on the unsaved, as well.
Dennis Hinks © 1999, 2001
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