We encourage our congregations to pray often for the lost, particularly for their lost family members. As pastors, we can also instruct them to pray with power for their lost loved ones.
Though every believer is instructed to pray, I have found that different prayer tools work for different believers. Because of that, I am offering you three prayer tools to get you started power praying for your family. Use whichever fits you best. Or take parts of all three and create your own power-praying machine. Whatever you do--pray!
TOOL #1: THE FOUR Ws
Dick Eastman writes about power praying that watches, walks, wars and wins. Each of these power prayer tools will strengthen your prayer of agreement for family salvation.
1. Watching. Jesus commanded us to both "watch and pray" (Matt. 26:41, KJV). Paul reaffirmed this when he said, "Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful" (Col. 4:2, NIV).
Often in the Old Testament, references are made to watchmen on the walls who spy any enemy who might be approaching. Are you watching out for your lost loved ones daily in prayer? Our watching and praying can prevent attacks on them from the enemy.
2. Walking. God promised Joshua, "I will give you every place where you set your foot" (Josh. 1:3). Pray as you walk through your home or the home of a lost loved one. Walk over the territory and possess it in Jesus' name. Determine to take back territory the enemy has stolen.
Surround your lost family members with territory you have walked and claimed for Jesus. Walk their neighborhoods, workplaces, recreational places, and claim that land and all its inhabitants for the kingdom of God.
3. Warring. Spiritual warfare involves putting on the whole armor of God and praying all the time with all types of prayers for all the saints (see Eph. 6). By faith, claim the salvation of your family, calling what is not as though it were. Call them "believers" even though you don't see it yet.
As you war, pull down strongholds and vain imaginations: "We are human, but we don't wage war with human plans and methods. We use God's mighty weapons, not mere worldly weapons, to knock down the devil's strongholds. With these weapons we break down every proud argument that keeps people from knowing God. With these weapons we conquer their rebellious ideas, and we teach them to obey Christ" (2 Cor. 10:35, NLT).
Go to spiritual war and knock down the devil's strongholds of lies, deception, pride, human reasoning, confusion and ignorance.
4. Winning. We have the power to win. We can overcome anything that hinders us from seeing the full salvation of our households.
We must overcome our own walls, the walls of our lost family members and the attacks of the enemy. The victory has already been secured, but we must apply God's Word and promises with the blood of the Lamb to overcome.
Scripture reveals: "'It has happened at last--the salvation and power and kingdom of our God, and the authority of His Christ! For the Accuser has been thrown down to earth--the one who accused our brothers and sisters before our God day and night. And they have defeated him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of their testimony. And they were not afraid to die'" (Rev. 12:1011).
Pray boldly in agreement with other believers, knowing you are a victor, a conqueror and an overcomer in the name of Jesus. Don't quit until you see victory in the life of every family member. Victory over sin. Victory over death and hell. The victory that claims eternal life in Christ Jesus.
TOOL #2: THE SEVEN POSITIONS OF POWER PRAYING
There are at least seven positions of prayer in Scripture. Each position reveals something of the attitude of the one who is praying.
1. Sitting in prayer. Sitting is resting in the Lord's presence. "For He raised us from the dead along with Christ, and we are seated with Him in the heavenly realms--all because we are one with Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:6).
Seated with Christ, you can talk with Him and communicate to Him your concerns.
Pray this, inserting your loved one's name: "Lord, as I sit with You in heavenly places and rest in Your presence, I seek Your lovingkindness to be extended to _____. I pray that in Your perfect timing, ______ will also be seated with You in heavenly places. O Lord, save _____ in Jesus' name. Amen."
Pray for the salvation of your family when you are seated for a meal, driving a vehicle, in a waiting room, at a worship service, at work or in your home.
2. Kneeling in prayer. Kneeling is a position of submission. As you submit yourself to Jesus, you are asking Him from the position of a servant to save your family.
Pray: "Lord Jesus, I kneel before You, repenting of any attitude within me that might be keeping my family from salvation. Save ________ so that his/her knee might also bow to You as Lord. Amen." Take time to pray as you kneel at your bedside, at your desk, in worship, at the altar or in a prayer meeting.
3. Bowing in prayer. When you bow in prayer, you give honor to the King of kings and Lord of lords.
"For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Eph. 3:14, NKJV). Honor the Lord for His great mercy and compassion.
For your lost family members, you might bow and pray: "Lord Jesus, I honor and adore You for saving me. I honor You for providing the way of salvation for ______. I eagerly look forward to the day when, as one of the family of God, ______ will honor You. Amen."
4. Standing in prayer. As you stand in prayer, you indicate a readiness and preparedness to do whatever is needed by the Lord.
For lost loved ones, stand and pray: "Lord Jesus, I stand before You, seeking what You desire of me. However You need me to witness to and serve ______, I am ready to do so. Your servant stands willingly before You to obey and serve. Amen."
5. Lying prostrate in prayer. Lying prostrate before God indicates a position of repentance and seeking God for His leading and guidance.
"He went on a little farther and fell face down on the ground, praying, 'My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from Me. Yet I want Your will, not Mine'" (Matt. 26:39, NLT).
Pray for the lost: "Lord Jesus, I prostrate myself before Your throne. I beseech You to save _____. I repent of anything I have done to keep _____ from knowing You as Savior. Forgive me, I pray. Amen."
6. Lifting hands in prayer. When you pray for the lost, lift up your hands to praise Jesus for His wonderful gift of salvation and to receive all that He has for you. He wants to inhabit your praise. He desires to fill you with every good gift to reach the lost.
Pray with uplifted hands for your lost family members: "Lord Jesus, I give You praise for Your gift of salvation. I give You praise for all the ways ______ will be touched by the Holy Spirit. I give You praise for the day when all my household is saved, in Jesus' name. Amen."
7. Laying on hands in prayer. Years ago when our children were infants, Judi and I, separately and together, would go into our children's rooms as they slept and lay hands on them. We prayed both for their salvation and blessing for their future. "So after more fasting and prayer, the men laid their hands on them and sent them on their way" (Acts 13:3).
In Scripture, the laying on of hands imparted blessing, the presence of God's Spirit, anointing, healing and releasing or ordination into ministry. If you have an infant, lay hands on your baby often in prayer for his or her future salvation and blessing. As your child grows, continue to pray for him or her, laying on your hands to impart your blessing and favor.
Your children will enjoy hearing your blessing being prayed over them. Also lay hands on your spouse, relatives and other family members as they give you permission to pray over them for salvation, healing, impartation and blessing.
For salvation, you might pray: "Lord Jesus, as I lay my hands on ______, I ask You to save, heal, deliver and bless ______. May he/she always know that You alone, Jesus, are the source of every good thing both in life and in eternity. Amen."
TOOL #3: A.C.T.S. OF POWER PRAYING
For years I have taught the A.C.T.S. of prayer in youth and discipleship training sessions. This acronym can be an excellent guide in praying for your family members.
A--Adoration. To adore means "to worship, magnify, bless and glorify the Lord according to His character and nature." During your quiet time, as you drive, sit in a waiting room or have an extra moment at work, pray adoration sentence prayers such as these, inserting your loved one's name: "Jesus, I adore You for Your goodness and mercy in saving me and in giving me the faith to believe for the salvation of _______. Amen." Or "Jesus, I worship Your majesty and give You honor for saving me. I honor You now for the future salvation of ______. Amen." Or "I bless Your name, O Lord, and believe that some day soon _______ will also be blessing Your name when he/she is saved by Your grace. Amen." Or "For the sake of Your glory, O Lord, save ______. Amen."
C--Confession. To confess means in the Greek to "say the same as" or "agree" with another person. When we confess something to Christ, we agree with Him about that issue. When we confess a sin, that means we are agreeing with Him that it is sin. We also confess or declare that He is Lord and Savior. So pray: "Jesus, I confess and pray that ______ will confess that You alone are Lord and Savior of all humanity. Amen." Or "Jesus, I agree with Your perfect will for the salvation of __________. Amen." Or "Jesus, I confess that both ______ and I are sinners in eternal need of Your saving grace. Amen." Or "Jesus, I agree with You that I have both strengths and weaknesses that You can and will use in the salvation of _____. Amen."
T--Thanksgiving. To give thanks requires us to recognize that we did not earn what we have. Thanksgiving means that Jesus is both the source of all we have and the owner--we are simply stewards of His bountiful possessions. So pray: "Jesus, I thank You for my salvation, health, prosperity and blessings. I thank You now for that moment when You will save, heal, prosper and bless ______. Amen." Or "Jesus, I thank You for the life of _______. I pray that You will reach out with Your strong arm of salvation to save ____. Amen."
S--Supplication. Supplication is prayer that asks for something either by petition or intercession. We ask humbly and according to God's will, petitioning Him patiently and persistently, not only for our own needs, but also for the needs of others.
When we intercede, we want to pray what God desires. As the Spirit prays through us, as Paul talks about in Romans 8, we know how to pray for the lost.
So pray: "I ask You, Lord Jesus, to save ____. Amen." Or "I ask You, Lord Jesus, to reveal to me by Your Spirit how to intercede for the salvation of ______. Amen."
Go through the A.C.T.S. of prayer for your lost loved ones regularly. Believe that God will do everything through you and beyond you to reach your lost loved ones with the saving message of Jesus Christ.
Power praying continues patiently in hope and faith. Power praying pulls down the walls within us and breaks down the walls that keep our unsaved family members away from Jesus. Power praying trusts God to do what we cannot do to reach the lost.
Power praying surrenders body, soul and spirit to the leading of the Holy Spirit in reaching the lost. Power praying shatters the gates of hell and loosens the enemy's grasp on our loved ones. Power praying confidently knows that "the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world" (1 John 4:4). Start power praying now for the salvation of all your lost family members.
Will You Pray?
The most effective tool God has given you for winning lost family members to Christ is prayer.
E.M. Bounds said often in his books and messages, "Without prayer, you can do nothing."
Prayer helps you know how to share the Scriptures with your family members. Prayer empowers you to understand the walls of separation between you and them. Prayer brings God's will from heaven to earth. Prayer is the key to your family's salvation.
"It was by faith that Noah built an ark to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God, who warned him about something that had never happened before. By his faith he condemned the rest of the world and was made right in God's sight" (Heb. 11:7, NLT).
Take a moment to examine your heart and your faith regarding these three questions:
**Do you trust God to save your family?
**Do you believe He is able to rescue them from destruction and hell?
**Do you truly accept that God's will for your family is that they be saved?
If you answer a bold, resounding yes to each of these questions, then it's time to build a prayer ark of salvation for your family. Decide now that nothing in life is more important than the salvation of your family, your children and your children's children. Make a decision now that corresponds to Joshua's decision: "But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord" (Josh. 24:15).
When Paul and Silas were released from jail by the angel, the Philippian jailer and his whole household were saved. Paul and Silas reassured the jailer: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household." Then they shared the word of the Lord with him and all who lived in his household. That same hour the jailer washed their wounds, and he and everyone in his household were immediately baptized. Then he brought them into his house and set a meal before them. He and his entire household rejoiced because they all believed in God (see Acts 16:3134).
It's time to go after the salvation of your entire household--not just your immediate family, but every relative you have.
For years I had prayed for all my relatives to be saved, whether I knew them or not. Then one evening I received a long distance phone call from a distant cousin I never knew I had. My newfound cousin had been in a Christian bookstore and had seen a book I had written. Having done research into our family tree, he knew I was a relative when he saw my name.
This cousin had been saved years ago and boldly prayed for the salvation of everyone in the family he knew was still living. How we rejoiced together on the phone as we met one another as brothers in Christ, not just cousins in the natural. He and his wife have since joined us on missions trips and seminars. And we have joined together in prayer for other unsaved family members. Together we believe that one day we will see our entire family saved. Praying for lost loved ones works.
Are you a Noah? Will you be like Joshua? Then pray aloud--in agreement with another believing family member if possible--this covenant prayer adapted from Joshua 24:1420:
"My family and I will honor the Lord and serve Him wholeheartedly. We will put away forever the idols our ancestors worshiped. We will serve the Lord alone. As for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.
"We will never forsake the Lord and worship other gods. For the Lord our God is the One who rescued us and our ancestors from slavery in sin. He performed mighty miracles before our very eyes. As we traveled through the wilderness among our enemies, He preserved us. It was the Lord who drove out and defeated our enemies. So we too will serve the Lord, for He alone is our God. Amen."
Larry Keefauver is editor of Ministries Today and author of several books, including Lord, I Wish My Husband Would Pray With Me (Charisma House), which may be purchased on the Web at www.charismahouse.com.