“Prayer” Session 5:
Praying for the Lost
Read Chapter 8 of Intercessory Prayer before beginning this study.
If you examine the Scriptures, you will find very little written about intercession on behalf of unbelievers. Does this mean that God doesn’t want us to pray for the lost? Absolutely not! It just means we might have to get a little bit more creative about applying other Biblical truths to this topic. If you grew up in the Charismatic stream of Christianity, you have probably heard the word “travail” in the context of intercession. The word has come to mean, “intense prayer, similar to a woman in labor.” While this can be a controversial subject, it deserves to be addressed. If you look through Scripture you’ll see a number of examples of this kind of intense, fervent prayer—the result being new, spiritual life.
1. How does this concept of “travail” or “birthing prayer” strike you? (Note: The physical manifestations of this kind of prayer should only be seen as an outward sign of the inward reality of what is being experienced.)
2. Discuss your experiences with intense, fervent prayer in your small group.
Birthing New Life
If you study Genesis 1, you will see that it was the Holy Spirit that brought about the life of the world. (This idea is expanded upon in Psalm 90 where the Creation account is likened to the process of birthing.) According to Dutch Sheets, “the Spirit of the Lord is being released through this intercession to hover over not only cities, but entire nations.” This kind of tangible releasing of God’s life-giving power has been seen in countless revivals throughout history and continues to happen today.
1. Refer to the story of Elijah praying for rain in 1 Kings 18. According to James 5, the rains came as a result of his “fervent” prayer. What implications does this have for this kind of prayer today?
2. Are you willing to “travail” with the Holy Spirit to see Him bring forth His life-giving power?
3. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you His heart for the lost. Ask Him to let you experience his passionate desire to see His sons and daughters come to know Him. He is looking for partners to labor with Him in the place of prayer.
4. Practice praying for the lost with your small group.