Praying and Witnessing for Regeneration
Sunday evening I argued that regeneration (new birth) is a sovereign work of God's grace which precedes and enables faith. The supporting manuscript is in the file in the church office for your purchase. It stands over against a free-will view of regeneration that says man's will only needs moral persuasion to become new, but it does not need a supernatural renovation so that it can be persuaded.
Question: How then should we pray for the lost?
Answer: Take the biblical statements of what God actually does in conversion and turn them into prayers. For example:
Lord, take out of her flesh the heart of stone and give her a heart of flesh. Cause her to walk in your statutes. Put love for yourself into her heart. Open the eyes of her heart to see the glory of the gospel. Grant repentance to her and free her from the devil. Make her alive together with Christ. Save her by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit. (Contrast this with the “free-will” prayers at the back of Dick Eastman's book, The Hour that Changes the World, pp. 158-161, which are not bad, only inadequate.)
Question: How should we witness?
Answer: By earnestly telling people and showing people about the character of God, the hopeless condition of man, the provision of salvation in Christ, the need for regeneration by the sovereign work of God's Spirit, the demand for repentance from sin and the necessity of heartfelt faith in the promises of Christ. The word of God is the occasion for the regenerating work of God (James 1:8; 1 Peter 1:23). Direct them to seek God earnestly in the word and in the privacy of their own closet.
When they have been brought to submission to God, you may teach them how to express their faith in prayer:
Almighty God, I bow before your holiness and excellence. I accept and approve of your law. I recognize the greatness of my sin. I stand utterly helpless under your righteous condemnation. O, how I wish the dishonor I have brought upon your name through my unbelief and obedience could be repaired. It fills me with joy and wonder that this is just what Christ did when he died on the cross to demonstrate your righteousness. I see him as my only hope of forgiveness and eternal life. I come to him. I receive him. I turn from all that displeases him. I trust in all his promises. I give myself up to him and reckon myself dead to sin and to the world. I engage, by the help of the Spirit, to oppose sin in my life and to obey the teachings of Christ. Thank you for bringing me to this wonderful place of faith! In Jesus' great name I pray, Amen.
Seeking the lost sheep with you,