Praying for God to Save Someone

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Tom Butler, Feb 3, 2009.

  1. Tom Butler

    Tom Butler
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    In Romans 10:1, Paul wrote: "Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved."

    I dare say that all of us at some time or another (and probably repeatedly) prayed for God to save an individual. Paul himself prayed that God would save every Jew.

    Implied in our prayer is the recognition of God's sovereignty. That is, God has the ability to answer our prayer--to save anybody. But aren't we also assuming that God may overcome one's resistance? We know that God will save anyone who is willing to repent and trust Christ for salvation. But when we pray for someone's salvation, aren't we actually asking God to make him willing?

    I guess I'm also asking, if God can't do those things, why did Paul pray for the salvation of every Jew, and why do any of us pray for God to save anyone?
     
  2. MB

    MB
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    I wouldn't say that God forces anyone into Salvation but never the less He is capable of convincing us we need Him. No one really knows if praying for the Salvation of another is helpful but I don't believe it hurts to try. If we love our fellow man as Christ loved the them, then we would want them to be saved as well. Praying for them, is us loving them as Christ does.
    I believe there is someone somewhere that can present the right message at the right time and they will be saved. Who in there right mind is there who doesn't want to live?
    MB
     
  3. Pastor David

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    "Implied in our prayer is the recognition of God's sovereignty. That is, God has the ability to answer our prayer--to save anybody. But aren't we also assuming that God may overcome one's resistance? We know that God will save anyone who is willing to repent and trust Christ for salvation. But when we pray for someone's salvation, aren't we actually asking God to make him willing?"

    ~ Tom, absolutely. We pray to God because we know He is the only one who can change a heart of stone into a heart of flesh. We learn from the Scriptures that Christ died for us while we were yet sinners, and that we were spiritually dead and adverse to the things of God untill He "quicken" our spirits unto Him (Eph 2:1-10). We often think the Lord is done raising people from the dead - but in reality He raises someone from spiritual death everytime that person is "born again" comes to faith in Him.

    Blessings,
     
  4. webdog

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    "The prayer of the righteous man availeth much"

    Do you believe this? God states our prayer means something to Him...all prayer. This is one of the profound mysteries of a infinte God dealing with man in a finite backdrop. God does act / react to our prayer. I know it sounds spiritual to say He doesn't, but the Bible is full of instances of just this.
     
  5. Jim1999

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    I am as strong a believer in the absolute sovereignty of God, yet, until that same God personally discloses who are the elect of His choosing, I shall pray for the worst sinner to come to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. It does not alter my theology one bit.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  6. Tom Butler

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    Pastor David, the question of praying for someone's salvation, and the implications I outlined earlier presents a problem for some.

    One view is that God may do everything necessary to accomplish one's salvation, but in the end, it is up to the individual to choose. That is, exercise his free will. God may illuminate, he may convict, he may call, he may draw, but all those are ultimately ineffective against a rebellious heart which refuses.

    Thus, to pray for someone's salvation, to a God who is willing, for a man who isn't, seems to be a useless exercise.

    The question, of course, is not whether he does those things, or if he can do these things. It is the ground on which he does them. And if a lost man can thwart him.

    And what you believe about that will have some impact on how you pray for the lost.
     
  7. webdog

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    ...yet Scripture says it isn't. This is the problem when we use our theolgy to interpret the Bible, and following logical conclusions too far.
    2 Peter 3:9 states the lost absolutely "thwart Him".
     
  8. Pastor David

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    Hi Tom,

    I approach this issue like this. Paul tells us earlier in Romans that no one is righteous and that there is no one (when left to themself) who seeks after God. Well then, if it isn't man who seeks after God, then it must needs be God who seeks after man, if any man is to be saved.

    In other words, we are quickened (made alive) by God in Christ Jesus - this is God's grace. After being made alive in Christ we respond in faith, which is itself a gift from God that no one can boast.

    I think we pray to God to save because we understand He has the power to save. Jesus tells us in John 6:44 that "No can come unto me unless it is given to them by my Father". So unless God moves in the life of a sinner to bring them to repentance and faith, we are left in our state of spiritual death.

    I like to use Lazarus as an example. Untill God quicken him to life (God's part) he would have remained dead, but once he was made alive, God called Him forth (Man's part) to come out of the grave. In short, the exercise of our faith is in response to God's saving grace.

    I hope this helps.
     
  9. webdog

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    Agreed.
    Scripture states we are regnerated (pass from spiritual death to spiritual life, i.e. born again) by faith in Christ, not prior (Rom. 3:22, 25, 28 4:5).
    Agreed. We also pray because we are commanded to intercede for others, because we are to love everyone including our enemies (and God's), and because we are told it means something.
    Physical death is not the same as spiritual, and the corpse analogy should not be carried over when dealing with spiritual death. We are told to be "dead to sin", yet we are not corpses when it comes to ability and desire to sin.
    If anything, Lazarus followed Christ (come forth) which alludes to discipleship, not faith, since faith and regeneration are simultaneous.
     
    #9 webdog, Feb 3, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 3, 2009
  10. Pastor David

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    Eph. 2:1 says "And you were dead in your trespasses and sins". The word for death here nekros literally means - " a corpse -one that has breathed his last, lifeless deceased, departed, one whose soul is in heaven or hell, destitute of life, without life, inanimate".

    No stronger word could have been used to underscore the idea that mankind is spiritually dead. Physical death is a perfect picture of man's unconverted state. The same word is even used to describe both. And so just like our Lord raised Lazarus from the dead, He raises people from their spiritual death as well.
     
  11. webdog

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    You have failed to state that nekros is used either literally or figuratively. Metaphors are never to be taken literally. Death is simply separation. When we die physically, our souls are separated from our bodies, and spiritual death is the soul's separation from God. This is what Paul was driving home, that due to sin, we are separated from God. It is reading theology into the text to state Paul's intention was to focus on the ability, rather inability to respond to the Truth that God has presented. Your corpse analogy fails when compared to Romans 1 where a "corpse" has done something you state cannot be done here or anywhere, they have rejected the Truth, something that is an impossibility for a corpse.
    Yes, according to how He has decreed which I have stated is through faith. In addition, the word cannot hold the identical meaning to something material and immaterial. It's impossible. It's like stating both physical and spiritual thirst can be quenched with water.
     
    #11 webdog, Feb 3, 2009
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  12. Jkdbuck76

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    Tom,

    You should always pray for the salvation of others...realizing that somebody was most-likely praying for yours. I know people were praying for mine.
     
  13. Pastor David

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    Death is the opposite of life. Where there is no life, there is death. This is why Jesus said He's the way, the truth and the life. This is Paul's point in Eph. 2:1. In our natural fallen condition, man is spiritually dead. This is his contention elsewhere as well in Rom. 2 where he states, there is no one who seeks after God - and obviously so - when we understand that in our natural state we are dead to spiritual things.

    Read Eph 2:1-10. Paul gives us the clearest expression of the nature of salvation.

    Verses 1 through 4 read:

    "And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest."

    ~ By nature we are nothing but destined to "wrath". We are sons of disobedience. Lost. Dead in trespasses and sins. No bleaker picture of man's natural condition could be painted for us. And now look at the following verses:

    "But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them." (Eph. 2:5-10)

    It is important to note that at the end of verse four man is left in a state of total despair, and without hope. And what is the first thing that happends to reconcile man back to God? Paul begins verse five, "But God...". Not "But man..." It is God who moves first in the life of a person to bring them unto Himself. He because of his mercy, it says, and his great love "made us alive"! He raises us from the spiritual dead!

    By this the grace of God is magnified in our lives because it is not of ourselves, that no one should boast, it is a gift from God. "Not a result of works" Paul states. Without the intervening work of God on our behalf, in making us alive in Christ Jesus, we'd all be left to perish in our sins. Thanks be to God and our Lord Jesus Christ - the Author and Finisher of our faith (Heb. 12:2).

    Blessings,
     
  14. webdog

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    Thanks for the dialogue, but I think you are talking past me at this point Pastor David. I agree with you that man left to himself is in big trouble, and left to themselves would never seek out God in their state, we will have to agree to disagree what the specifics of exactly what that means, and the specific details of being in that state.
    Welcome to the BB, btw :)
     
  15. Pastor David

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    "Welcome to the BB, btw"

    ~ Thanks!
     
  16. thegospelgeek

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    I typically pray for God to put conviction on someones heart, put christian witnesses in their life, and to draw them with the power of the Holy Spirit. I rarely pray for God to save them (This is probably because of my beliefs regarding predestination).

    Should one pray for God to save them, or pray along the lines listed above? Is there a difference?

    OH...
    and welcome Pastor Dave!
     
  17. Marcia

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    Yes, we should pray for lost people. Both my sister and myself were prayed for by believers (in my case, only one person in the group knew me) in separate cities and different circumstances, but around the same time (the 2 groups of believers did not know about each other). My sister and I came to faith in Christ about one month apart and we were both hardened and hostile to the gospel. The people praying for me prayed for about a year faithfully every other week when they met. My sister was witnessed to as well by one of the people praying, but I was not witnessed to at all nor given the gospel.

    Webdog, I have to disagree that God 'reacts' to our prayers. I think God already knows whom he will save, but our prayers glorify Him when we see someone saved through prayer. I don't think it's our prayers that cause God to save the person, but our prayers change us as we pray and remind us that it is God who saves.

    I don't think God reacts. The instances in the Bible are man's view of God changing, but God all along knew what would happen (as when Abraham asked God to save Lot).
     
  18. webdog

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    It's probably a shock, but I disagree :) There are many instances of God decreeing something will be done, to only see God react to prayers. Couple off the top of my head: God telling Moses to get out of the way while He destroys the Israelites who were worshipping the golden calf. After Moses interceded, the Bible says He relented of the disaster that He spoke of bringing. God's dealing with Ninevah is another. God was going to destroy the city, but after they repented, He changed His mind of bringing destructioin, an example of God reacting. Hezekiah is another example. God had the message sent to him to get his house in order as he was about to die, and after his prayer, God granted him another 15 years.

    Now we can look at this in two ways, God was pretending or lying initially in these instances, since He is omniscient, or He was seriously going to do what He said, and changed His mind. The third possibility is God's dealing with mankind within time and space being a mystery which includes and is not limited to an infinite God choosing to listen to the prayers of the righteous and unrighteous alike. I hold to this view. Even the prayer of salvation is God listening to, and granting us righteousness. If prayer is simply us doing what God has planned for us to do, there are many problems with what He has decreed, and then "relented" from scattered throughout the Bible. It's not just man's view of God changing, it's His Word stating how and when He decides to change, which is the very definition of sovereign.
     
    #18 webdog, Feb 3, 2009
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  19. thegospelgeek

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    If one doesn't feel that God reacts in any way to our prayer how can one believe that the fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much?

    God's forknowlege of our prayers and his reaction to them does not rule out his soverienty nor the effect of the prayer.
     
  20. webdog

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    You said in two sentences what I haven't said so well in a paragraph :)

    I'll also add Luke 18:1-8 to this discussion.
     
    #20 webdog, Feb 3, 2009
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