There is not a worse feeling than having a loved one (family or friend) that does not believe or, worse yet, they believe but have not committed to Christ in faith. We all know at least someone that we have told the Gospel to for years and he/she continues to reject the message. We have prayed for him/her day after day for decades even. We have invited them to church on countless occasions. We love them and do not want them to go on anymore without the love of God in their life. They are missing a peace that surpasses all understanding and an exceedingly great joy that is only found in our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. There is One who can set us free and if He sets you free, you are free indeed!
I would like to call your attention to a Scripture that would be most helpful in prayer for those uncommitted lives of the ones you love. You know, we can’t continually badger people about Christ and the church. For many individuals, we are simply pushing them farther and farther away from the Lord. We must proclaim the Word of the Lord, the Gospel, to the dieing, but we are never told to preach to individuals without ceasing. What we are told to do is pray without ceasing. And that is what we will do, but how should we petition the Lord? I will give you a simple outline to pray from Ezekiel 36:26. I invite you to read that with me.
READ Scripture- This is the Word of God
Point 1: The “New” Theme
A. It was during the exile that this prophetic theme really emerged.
B. Ezekiel states this theme in a few places. For example…
1. Ezekiel 11:19-20 “Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, 20 that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God.”
2. Ezekiel 18:31 “Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit.”
C. Other Prophets also stressed this theme:
a. 42:9 “Behold, the former things have come to pass, And new things I declare; Before they spring forth I tell you of them”
b. 43:18-19 “Do not remember the former things, Nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth”
31:31-34 “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers…”
D. Why was this theme of newness stressed?
1. Israel as a whole had failed to uphold the name of the LORD
(Unfaithfulness of the people)
2. The Old Covenant could not atone for the sins of the people
(Sinfulness of the human heart)
Point 2: The New Theme becomes the Rule of Faith
A. The newness described by the prophets has become the distinguishing feature of the NT.
B. God was using the prophets as mouthpieces to declare the renewal of the nation and the covenant people. He would restore them to their land, but that would not be enough. He would need to cleanse them, give them a new heart and a new spirit. He would have to take out their heart of stone, which is to figuratively say their “dead heart,” and put a real, sensitive heart of flesh in them. Then He says that He would do this by putting His Spirit within the people.
C. To do this “new thing” God would reveal the mystery of the ages, His Son Jesus Christ.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” He was the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” That is why the One who sits on the throne can say, “Behold, I make all things new.” The people were restored to their land, forgiven of their unrighteousness, and cleansed from their idolatry so that the plan of God may continue- the redemptive work of Christ.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation;
old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
Point 3: Prayer
A. Now, let’s come back to the prayer issue. It is an enormous privilege that we can bow before God Almighty with our concerns. It is also fear-provoking endeavor to petition the Lord.
B. One of our greatest concerns in this life is for our loved ones who are outside of Christ. Not only are they missing out on the blessings of God in this life, but they face the wrath to come.
C. Thankfully Jesus says, “The Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.”
“The Lord is…not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”
D. So this is how we can pray:
“Father, give my loved one a new heart and put a new spirit within him; take the heart of stone out of his flesh and give him a heart of flesh. Put Your Spirit within him.”
The main point of this passage of Scripture comes from v22, “…Thus says the Lord GOD: “I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name’s sake…”
One function of this point was to find the one unfailing thing from the past that could establish a basis for salvation in the future. It was God’s faithfulness to His promises and to His name that would determine grace and mercy for the people. It was because of His name that He would do something new in their behalf. In Ezekiel’s prophecy we do not hear one word of God’s compassion or love because Ezekiel is too busy focusing on the overwhelming majesty of God.
How great is His name now because of the New Covenant? How glorious is He now that He has made salvation available to all people? “Therefore, since we have such hope [in the New Covenant], we use great boldness of speech…”
“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace [with this prayer],
that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help…” (Heb 4:16)