Study 7 THE SOUL-WINNER’S PRAYER FOR ISRAEL’S SALVATION
GREAT PRAYERS IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
by Francis W. Dixon
(Scripture Reference: Romans 10:1)
The burden of the Apostle Paul’s heart was his intense longing that sinners might be saved. He was an outstanding man, not physically, but as a Christian (Acts 11:26); as a true disciple of Christ (John 8:31); as the Lord’s ambassador (2 Corinthians 5:20); as a pastor (Philippians 1:3-5); as a preacher (Ephesians 3:8); as a writer (Philemon 19); and as a martyr (2 Timothy 4:6-8). But most of all he was a soul-winner. His whole life was dedicated to this. With Romans 10:1 we should link Romans 9:1-3. Although Paul could be joyful, he carried with him this constant burden for the souls of others, and in this study we shall centre our thoughts on Romans 10:1, where there is a clear sequence of truth.
1. Paul viewed all men as being lost by nature.
The use of the word “saved” in Romans 10:1 implies that those for whom Paul longed were lost. No-one needs to be saved who is not already lost. Paul was thinking primarily of Israel, of his fellow-countrymen, for he was a Jew; but it is not only Jews who are lost. All who are living apart from Christ are lost. If we are to be soul-winners we must begin by being firmly convinced that those who are not Christians are lost – lost to God, to Christ, to salvation, to Heaven, and lost for ever unless they are brought to Him. What is it to be lost?
- (1) It refers to the soul and to eternity (Mark 8:36).
- (2) It is to be living apart from Christ (Luke 19:10).
- (3) It is to be perishing (John 3:16).
- (4) It is to miss out on any opportunities for usefulness, and to be out of fellowship with the Father (Luke 15:3-24).
- (5) It is to be under condemnation (John 3:18).
- (6) It is to be under God’s wrath (John 3:36).
- (7) It is to be bound for Hell and a Christ-less eternity (Luke 13:27).
What a solemn and terrible thing it is to be lost, and how very many are lost, and how few are trying to save the lost!
2. Paul believed that good men, as well as bad men, were lost: that religious people as well as irreligious people were lost.
There’s an idea around that so long as people are religious, moral and trying to live a good life they are not so bad, in fact they are or will be saved. But this is not the case. Paul speaks of his Jewish brethren and of their zeal to make themselves acceptable to God (Romans 10:2-3). How religious the Jews were! – but in spite of this they were lost, because no-one is saved by law-keeping, by good works or by morality, but only by believing in Christ. We are not saved by our self-righteousness, for this is unacceptable to God (Isaiah 64:6); we are only saved by submitting ourselves to Christ’s righteousness (Romans 10:3); and this righteousness is imputed to us when we believe (Romans 10:9-10). So, the religious, moral Pharisee is lost, while the sinful publican is saved – why? Because the Pharisee trusted in his own righteousness which can never save him, and the publican trusted in Christ’s righteousness (Luke 18:9-14), and compare Romans 3:20; Galatians 2:16; Ephesians 2:8-10 and Titus 3:5-7.
3. Paul longed with a deep longing for men to be saved.
He tells us that this was his “heart’s desire”. Paul had a passion for souls, like the Lord Jesus (Matthew 9:36), and compare Matthew 14:14. Paul’s longing was so intense – see again Romans 9:1-3. He longed for Jews to be saved because he was a Jew; just as the Chinese or Romanian Christians will long for their own people to be saved, or a converted drug addict will long for other addicts to be saved. Read Exodus 32, particularly noticing verses 31 and 32.
4. Paul’s longing for the salvation of men expressed itself in prayer.
Romans 10:1 tells us this – and such a true burden for souls will always be expressed in prayer. Notice five things about Paul’s prayer:-
- (1) It was a shared prayer. He begins by calling upon his “brothers” to share this burden with him. We are all responsible to pray for the salvation of others, and all of us can do this (Acts 28:30-31).
- (2) It was a heart-felt prayer. His heart was in it, for ‘the heart of prayer is the prayer of the heart’. There were tears in Paul’s prayer – look up Acts 20:31.
- (3) It was a rightly directed prayer. It was directed “to God”, as all prayers should be, and what wonderful things God can do in answer to the prayers of His people when they come to Him – look up Jeremiah 33:3.
- (4) It was a definite prayer. It was for the salvation of Israel.
- (5) It was a specific prayer. He did not pray for people to be blessed, or helped, or guided; but he prayed that the heart of their need might be met – that they might be “saved” (James 5:20).
5. Paul’s longing which expressed itself in prayer was also accompanied by works.
He not only prayed but he went into action in some very practical ways. His longing and prayer for men and women to be brought to Christ showed itself in three special ways:-
- (1) By the life he lived. Paul won souls by the life that Christ lived in him and lived out through him (Galatians 2:20; Colossians 1:29). This was possible because Paul was available to the Holy Spirit – look up Romans 12:1.
- (2) By the words he spoke. Paul won souls by his preaching, his testifying to Jews and Gentiles, to many or to few, in prison or in the palace, in the street or in the synagogue, by day or by night. This was possible because his lips were available to the Holy Spirit – look up Psalm 50:23.
- (3) By the letters he wrote. Thirteen of these letters are in our New Testament. Did you ever think of writing to your loved ones and friends and testifying to them concerning your faith in Christ? Paul’s pen was available to the Holy Spirit – look up Galatians 6:11.
Here, then, is the soul-winner’s prayer for Israel’s salvation, or for anybody’s salvation. Let us make it our prayer.