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“Great crowds came to Him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at His feet; and He healed them.” (Matthew 15:30)


Consider for a moment what the family and friends of these afflicted people were doing. They were physically leading or carrying to Jesus those who could not come under their own power. Therefore, they were in effect, partnering with Jesus in the healing and salvation of these afflicted.

One of the most extreme examples of this is found in Mark 2:1-12. This is when four men carried a paralytic to Jesus on a stretcher. This man was completely immobilized and utterly dependent upon others to move him.

But it wasn’t only the distance this paralytic had to traverse. It was the obstacle of the crowds which prevented him from reaching Jesus. So the four litter bearers got creative. They climbed to the roof of Jesus’ home in Capernaum (probably Peter’s house), dug a hole through it, and lowered the paralytic at Jesus’ feet. The result? The man’s sins were forgiven and his body was completely healed. The four men didn’t make the forgiveness or the healing happen. But they did participate in those miracles by carrying the paralytic to Jesus. They partnered with Jesus in his salvation.

Isn’t this what we are doing when we pray for those unsaved friends and family members whom God lays heavily on our hearts? Aren’t we essentially carrying and laying at the feet of Jesus those who cannot come to Him on their own? Through our prayers we are laying at Jesus’ feet those who are powerless to come to Him themselves. For they are spiritually blind, crippled, and dead. We don’t perform the miracles they need. We’re powerless to do so.  But we bring them to the One who is able to help them.

When praying for our unsaved loved ones, it’s essential that we grasp several truths from Scripture. Foremost of these is this. God’s expressed desire is that “all people be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.”  Paul wrote this in 1 Timothy 2:4. Peter agreed with this in 2 Peter 3:9, when he wrote that God is “not willing that anyone should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”  Even in the Old Testament God expressed that He takes no pleasure in the destruction of the wicked. “As I live, declares the LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live” (Ezekiel 18:23; 33:11). In these three passages, God clearly states what He wants and what He does not want. He wants all people to be saved and He does not want anyone to perish.

And should we be tempted to think these verses only apply to God’s will for “the Elect,” Jesus informed us that “there is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7). Clearly, God loves to save sinners.

God judges sinners because, as the Righteous Judge, He has to. But God saves sinners because, as the Savior, He loves to. This is why James told us that “mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13). Saving sinners pleases God infinitely more than judging them. Therefore, there is no possibility of God “choosing someone to be lost.”  He would not and could not do such a thing.

The Scripture clearly indicates that the scope of Jesus’ redemptive mission was all-encompassing of humanity. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life. For God sent not His Son into the world to judge the world but that the world should be saved through Him” (John 3:16-17). “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which is lost” (Luke 19:10). God sent Jesus to be “the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world” (John 1:29), not merely of a favored few. John again tells us, “And He (Jesus) is the propitiation (literally, “the satisfaction”) for our sins; but not only ours but also for the whole world” (1 John 2:2). The kingdom of God is not an exclusive club that closely guards its membership. God wants to “fill His house,” i.e. heaven (Luke 14:23).

But the scope of Christ’s redemptive mission actually extended beyond humanity. Paul the apostle informs us that the physical creation itself is included in Christ’s redemption (Romans 8:19-22). By His resurrection Jesus has become the Firstborn of a whole new creation (Acts 13:33; Colossians 1:15) that includes a New Heaven and New Earth (Isaiah 65:17; 66:22; 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1). If Christ’s redemption encompasses all the physical creation, then by what twisted logic would it exclude any person created in His own image? Clearly, God wants all people to be saved.

The only “ambivalence” in God concerning His desires pertains to the fact that He is both perfectly just and perfectly loving. He must punish sin, but He loves to save the sinner. As Paul wrote in Romans 9:22-23, the Justice of God desires to punish those “vessels of wrath fit for destruction,” but the Love and Patience of God make Him withhold His wrath so that He might transform those vessels of wrath into vessels of mercy.

Of course, Jesus became the solution for this dilemma in that He satisfied God’s justice by absorbing all His judgments and wrath on our behalf. So now God is free to pour out His love upon sinners, forgive their sins, and save them eternally.

But sinners, because of their spiritual blindness, disability, and death must be carried to Jesus. The Holy Spirit is doing His miraculous work in the hearts of sinners and God is raising up witnesses to preach the Gospel to them (Matthew 9:37-38; John 16:7-11). But, as God explained to Ezekiel, He looks for intercessors “to stand in the gap” between Himself and the wicked, to plead with Him on their behalf (Ezekiel 22:30-31). Through our prayers, we side with God’s love and mercy, asking Him to do what He loves to do. Through our prayers, we partner with God for the sinner’s salvation. We lay at the feet of Jesus, those whom God lays upon our hearts.

And think about it. Think of your own unsaved loved ones. God is the One who brought them into your life. He orchestrated their appearance at this very place and time in your world. Couldn’t God have placed your unbelieving children, siblings, and parents into any pagan home or environment? There’s certainly plenty of them.

But God didn’t do that. God placed them into your home, knowing that you’d witness to them and pray for them. And why would God burden your heart for their souls if He saw no possibility of their salvation and had no intention of saving them? Doesn’t it make perfect sense to conclude that God’s plan is to use your witness and your prayers as the means of bringing them to faith and repentance? Yes, it does. Though God doesn’t need your participation, He chooses to use it in His redemptive plan.

So, keep bringing your unsaved children, siblings, parents, and friends to Jesus Christ through your witness and your prayers. Lay them at Jesus’ feet. Trust in God’s goodness that He would not heartlessly burden your soul for their eternal welfare and then have no intention of answering your prayers. God is a good, kind, and loving God, who desires all people to be saved.


PRAYER:  Dear Father in heaven, open my eyes to understand Your heart for those who are lost and perishing without Jesus Christ. Help me, Father, to partner with You in their salvation and blessing through my Christian witness and through my prayers. I ask this through Jesus Christ, who died that all might be saved, Amen.

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