The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

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Praying Life for the Spiritually Dead | Pray for Life

In his letters Paul describes the state of his readers, prior to conversion, as spiritually dead. ‘As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins …’ (Ephesians 2:1). ‘When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature …’ (Colossians 2:13).

What we often refer to as ‘becoming a Christian’ is described in the New Testament as when ‘God made you alive with Christ’ (Colossians 2:13). Hence when we are praying for someone’s conversion we are praying that they would become spiritually alive. This new life is possible because of Jesus’ death on the cross.

Throughout the Bible the Holy Spirit, sometimes pictured as God’s breath, has a key role in bringing forth life. For example, Jesus being conceived when the Holy Spirit ‘came upon’ Mary and overshadowed her (Luke 1:35); the Spirit of God ‘hovering over the waters’ (Genesis 1:2); Ezekiel in the valley of dry bones, prophesying to the breath, says ‘Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live’ (Ezekiel 37:9). Jesus tells Nicodemus that ‘no-one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the spirit gives birth to spirit’ (John 3: 5-6).

The cause of our spiritual death is sin and it is the Holy Spirit who convicts of guilt in regard to sin (John 16:8). Only God through his Spirit can bring forth spiritual life – only he can make those who are dead, alive in Christ. So what is our role? God’s resurrection power works in us and through us (Ephesians 3:20)! As John Stott states in his commentary on Ephesians: ‘the infinite ability of God to work beyond our prayers, thoughts and dreams is by the power at work within us, within us individually (Christ dwelling in our hearts by faith) and within us as a people (who are the dwelling place of God by his Spirit). It is the power of the resurrection…that, is the power which is at work within the Christian and the church.’ No wonder James can say ‘The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective’ (James 5:16).

Our role is to pray that the Holy Spirit will ‘overshadow’ those for whom we are praying that they may live!

Prayer points

  • Pray that the Holy Spirit will ‘overshadow’ them
  • Pray that the Holy Spirit will quicken their spirit
  • Pray that they will ‘wake up’ to the truth of the gospel
  • Pray for signs that new spiritual life is growing in them – a more sensitive conscience, a greater interest in the gospel, questioning about the meaning of life, etc.