“I beheld the transgressors, and was grieved; because they kept not thy word.” (Psalm 119:158)
Being a prophet of the Lord did not come with a glamorous job description. In fact, their popularity ratings would have been very low if such things existed in Bible times. Many times, the message they imparted was not one people wished to hear as it pointed out their sinfulness and disobedience to God.
- Ezra felt shame and “blushed” at the sin of the people.
- Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, spent forty years pleading with the people, but no one listened.
- Isaiah wept bitterly over the actions of the people.
- Ezekiel preached God’s judgment but also offered hope to the faithful.
These men lived thousands of years before us, but we still live in a broken, sinful world. Do we blush with shame at the sin around us? Do we weep at the apathy people show toward God? Does sin grieve us as it did the prophets? Or are we no longer distressed by what we see?
Isaiah cried out, “Leave me alone to weep; do not try to comfort me. Let me cry for my people as I watch them being destroyed” (Isaiah 22:4, NLT).
Today, people are still being destroyed by sin. As a child of God, we must fiercely hate sin— hate how it destroys lives, tears apart families, and affects innocent bystanders. But we must not hate the sinner. We must grieve the sin but love the sinner. And then we must pray.
First, we should ask God to make us intercessors with a deep burden for those bound by sin. Ask God to . . .
. . . give us boldness to reach out to the lost.
. . . help us recognize opportunities to minister to others.
. . . give us wisdom on how to best use those opportunities.
. . . help us to respond with love, not condemnation.
Then as we intercede for the sinner, we should ask God to . . .
. . . open their hearts to receive His Word.
. . . realize their sinful condition and its consequences.
. . . give them a hunger for the things of God.
. . . deliver those bound by addictions.
. . . help them feel heartfelt repentance and turn from their sins.
. . . restore family relationships.
. . . thwart those who profit from sin.
In Ezekiel 9:4 (ESV), the Lord spoke to the prophet in a vision. “Pass through the city, through Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in it.” If God were to say that today about our city, would we be one of the marked ones? Are we interceding before God for our community, our neighbors? Do we feel compassion for the drug addict, the troubled teen, the homeless beggar, and the prostitute? Or do we pull our holy robes around us with disdain as we pass them by?
Ask God to help you be one of the marked ones, one of the intercessors for this broken, sad world in which we live. Intercessory prayer will make a difference.
“Rivers of water run down from my eyes, because men do not keep Your law.” (Psalm 119:136, NKJV)
Lord, give me an intercessor’s heart and a burden for those who do not know You. Help me to respond with love and compassion to those who are bound by sin and open their hearts to Your love through me. May Your Word penetrate their hearts and transform their lives through the power of Your Spirit.