Yesterday in church, I presented a challenge to the members of Calvary Baptist Church to take a portion of our church membership roll and pray for the members of this church in 5 ways. I'm going to expand on those 5 needs this week on the blog, which will hopefully shed enough light on the matter.
The first need listed for each person is Salvation. Now, this word gets lots of differing connotations. The intent here is this: salvation as seen as being put in a right relationship with God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross and His resurrection. The Bible passage associated with this request is Romans 10:9-10:
9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
What are we praying for here? That will draw people to Himself, causing them to confess with their mouths the Lordship of Christ and believing in their heart the truth of His death. Now, we'll not mince words here with this statement: this belief results in behavior. A belief that results in no life action is vain and empty.
Why do we pray for this? Because we understand the Bible to teach us that all need salvation to be at peace with God (Romans 3:23, Isaiah 53:6, Romans 5:8). And just as we see that God sent His Son to save the world, not condemn it (John 3:17) and wants all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9), yet must give sinful people what they have earned (Romans 6:23).
So mankind needs saved, basically from what we deserve, which is the wrath of Almighty God. There are none so amazing that they do not need this salvation, and none so awful they cannot be blood-bought by Christ.
Yet because of our sinfulness, it takes 2 things for a person to be saved: the move of the Spirit of God in their lives and the witness of God's Word. Typically the witness is supplied by a person directed by God, but it also comes from 'scattered seed' like Gideon Bibles left in hotels (or stolen, then left someplace else!). We will be more certain of seeing those in need of salvation confess and believe if we first ask God to move in their lives and then, driven by our heart that they not perish in hell but rather come to repentance, we will be the witness of God's Word.
Why pray for the salvation of those who already claim to be believers? 2 reasons: assurance and certainty. What's the difference? Assurance is needed for those who truly are saved but have doubts. God can increase their assurance. Certainty is need by those who aren't really saved but think they are. How so? We often "strike while the iron is hot" and quick-baptize people in our churches. Years later, they are convicted by the Holy Spirit that they are not truly believers. We need to pray that these people will be convicted and move in response to God's work in their lives.
In all, we as people are able to evaluate fruit, but unable to correctly judge the hearts of people. So, we pray that all will be saved and then act in accordance with those prayers. When we think a person is saved, we pray that God will confirm the fact in their lives or convict them of its falsehood.