Praying for People: Do People Know What They Need?

“Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved” (Romans 10:1).

As Christians, we love to share prayer requests with others, particularly requests of a pressing nature. We ask for healing, finances, better relations, a job, and a host of other requests. The Bible gives us every encouragement to pray for others, whatever the need.

But few people will ever ask us to pray for their own salvation. Perhaps they do not feel the need, or they never think of it. Maybe they’re running from God. But they do need us to pray for them. Still, could we ever think of a more urgent matter to pray for? Paul’s prayer for Israel is that they would be saved.

People do not always know what they need. But God tips us off how to pray for others: pray for what they really need. We could say the same thing about government. A city or community in the throes of a severe drought might ask community churches to pray for rain. Churches should respond positively, but also pray for what the city needs. We know most cities need spiritual awakening, so we might push that to the top of the list. A high school coach might pray for safety and even victory for the coming game, but spiritually alert people would actually pray for an effective witness on that team. People do not always know what they really need.

People need prayer, and we have the privilege and responsibility to pray for them. Paul prayed for his people Israel that they might be saved. We need to pray similarly. Here’s a plan:

1. Recognize that you cannot pray for everyone.
The more we get to know even a few people, the more we discover how much they hurt. Needs abound, and we cannot hope to pray for everyone. But God designed the church to work as a community, for its members to serve and also pray.

2. Target some people to pray for their salvation.
You cannot pray for everyone, but you most certainly can pray for some people. In your prayer time, make room for a list of specific lost people you will pray for. Ask God to remove obstacles to their salvation and for Him to soften their hearts.

3. Continue in prayer for them.
The vast majority of Christians had people praying for them to be saved. It may seem like people we pray for are farther from God than when we began. But God can save people at the so-called eleventh hour. We need to be faithful to continue to pray for others—for what they really need.

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