by Robin J Johnson 

Jesus said, “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke 19:10

Jesus’ statement comes at the end of a story about an encounter with an individual, Zaccheus (Luke 19:1-10). This is important to keep in mind when praying; the life of each and every person is valued by and important to Jesus.
There are numerous things that we can glean from this story and different observations. One is that this story is about the existence of corruption. Something that is still a significant issue through the world today. It exists on many levels and in some nations it is so deeply rooted it is a significant hinderance to the nations growth and wellbeing.
Returning to our story told by Luke we see that Jesus focused on the individual, one who was known to be a corrupt official. We do not see Jesus attacking the whole institution of corruption, but targets one life. The results speak for themselves, a changed life!
There are numerous issues, many serious, that we face in our society today. Sometimes it feels like you are standing under a water fall and about to be washed away. A lot of prayer action is taken up focusing on these issues and especially the major ones. Some of those issues we have prayed about for decades and nothing much has changed. This is not a criticism, simply an observation.
I am a man of faith, but I believe also a realist. Some say those two cannot co-exist. I say they can. We must have a realistic and honest look at life. If what we are doing is not working, the changes we are praying for are not occurring, then we need to ask why. This is not entering a place of defeat, we simply must find a better way, in Christ, to attain the victory. Prayer is the key, but we must also pray the right prayers.

This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him. 1 John 5:14-15

The emphasis that we began this article with is the value and importance of each person. Maybe our prayers need to be more focused on individuals and rescuing those ensnared with each life destroying issue that they are grappling with.

We started to pray for an individual and the Holy Spirit guided us into the bigger picture.

Nevertheless, I do believe we can pray into the bigger picture as well. An example of this is when we prayed against the increase of illegal drugs coming into our nation.
Many years ago the Lord led us to pray against the illicit drug trade by praying for the police. In brief we prayed that evil men would be exposed, that the police would receive revelation knowledge (whether they knew it or not) to discover where the drugs were coming from, who was behind the importation and find them all, etc.
Approximately a week later a news item on national television reported that the police had just made a record (at that time) drug seizure. Hallelujah, prayer works! What prompted us to begin to pray was hearing of a family member who had been ensnared, in minor way, with illicit drugs. That person was also rescued and is now leading a normal and successful life.
We started to pray for an individual and the Holy Spirit guided us into the bigger picture.
In fact approximately two weeks ago there was another report from NSW that the police had made the  largest seizure of illegal drugs on record. Immediately we were prompted to pray again into this area and asked the Lord for more discoveries. The very next night the TV News reported another significant discovery, this time in Victoria, and arrests were made by the police.
I think that if we can keep reminding ourselves that with each social issue there is a human face, then maybe we will pray more compassionately.

Every issue in our society has a human face. A unique person of immeasurable value and worth, created in the image of God, for who Christ died and arose from the dead to set free.

God is not interested in self righteous and/or religious rants. Shouting at the darkness will not cause it to go away. The only way that darkness is overcome is by turning on the light. It is the light of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ that brings light and life into the human heart. That must be our ultimate goal.
The apostle Paul often requested prayer so that he could speak boldly the Gospel.

And pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
Ephesians 6:19-20

We need an army of compassionated voices crying out to God for His intervention; to equip ourselves to be more prepared not only to pray, but to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), reaching out to individual people who we pass by in our daily lives.
When I pray into and for the end of abortion in our nation, I am not just praying from some sense of a personal affront to the horror of abortion (though it is a horror), I cry, literally, because I see the tragic loss of life of the thousands of unborn babies and the untold, ongoing suffering and trauma of the women who have had the abortions. I want to see the hurt stopped.
Every issue in our society has a human face. A unique person of immeasurable value and worth, created in the image of God, for who Christ died and arose from the dead to set free.

Hear what the Spirit says

A significant prayer ministry in Australia changed its name to better reflect that it is both prayer and evangelism, which is heaven’s priority. They certainly caught what the Spirit is saying to His church.

Jesus told us to pray, “Our Father, Your kingdom come your will be done.”
Matthew 6:10

The “Kingdom come” must start with people encountering the power of God; experiencing salvation through Jesus Christ. Jesus is still seeking to save the lost. Therefore, let us work with Him through our prayers that begin with interceding for people to be saved and set free from their sin.

Most of all, I’m writing to encourage you to pray with gratitude to God. Pray for all men with all forms of prayers and requests as you intercede with intense passion.
1 Timothy 2:1 (Letters from Heaven: By the Apostle Paul – The Passion Translation)
Who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
1 Timothy 2:4

In the centre of the heart of the Father are people. Therefore, people must also be at the centre of our requests and petitions to heaven.

(All scripture references unless otherwise noted are taken from the New American Standard Bible)