The Psalmist wrote: “Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” (Psalm 126:5-6) When was the last time you sowed in tears, with a broken heart for the condition of the lost? Most often my eyes are dry and my heart, although not hard, is not focused on the lost and dying. I believe that God wants our hearts to break with the one thing that breaks His heart – the lost going to hell. Think of it, He created us for fellowship and to share His love with and people either reject His offer or, worse still, have never heard of His offer. As a result they spend eternity in hell separated from the very God who created them and wanted to have a relationship with them.
This is not just some nice religious theory. Jesus demonstrated this heart for the lost when He wept over the city of Jerusalem: “Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, ‘If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.'” (Luke 19:41-42) Consider this: Jesus wept over the very people who only a short time later would shout, “Crucify Him!”
Paul the apostle likewise had this same broken heart for the Jewish people who had not yet been saved. Everywhere Paul went, these religious people were a thorn in his flesh. Yet look at Paul’s passionate prayers for them:
“Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.” (Romans 10:1)
“I tell you the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bears me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, who are Israelites… (Romans 9:1-4)
Paul loved his persecutors so much that he would be willing to be cut off from Christ in order to bring them to salvation! As remarkable as Paul’s sacrificial prayer life was, he was not the only one who prayed that way. Look at Moses’ intercessory prayer for the Israelites:
“Now it came to pass on the next day that Moses said to the people, ‘You have committed a great sin. So now I will go up to The Lord; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.’ Then Moses returned to The Lord and said, ‘Oh, these people have committed a great sin, and have made for themselves a god of gold! Yet now, if You will forgive their sin – but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written.'” (Exodus 32:30-32)
Here are examples of true intercession. Like the examples of Jesus, Paul and Moses, intercession means loving people so intensely that we are willing to lay down our lives to stand in the gap for their salvation. In the church today man has made this ministry into something only certain people are called to and they become the ‘experts’ often praying for everything but the lost. Then, the rest of the Christians don’t need to pray with such intensity because they are not called to this ministry. Nonsense! Everyone is called to pray for and speak to the lost about the love of Jesus.
So, maybe, just maybe, we should first pray for ourselves – praying for a “heart transplant.” This would allow us to receive His broken heart in exchange for our sometimes selfish and uncaring hearts. Then we would see powerful prayers for the lost.