by Kevin Burton
“One of the most effective ways to pray for ourselves and for others is to pray scripture. In doing so, we echo back to God that which we know is his will.”
Those are words from the back cover of the book “Covering Your Life In Prayer: Discover A Life-Changing Conversation With God,” by pastor Erwin W. Lutzer. It is available through Moody Church Media in Chicago.
I have just finished the book and highly recommend it. It has 52 weekly passages on a specific aspect of a walk with God, ending in a guide to intercessory prayer for loved ones and for the nation.
If you’re like me you have very good intention to pray for loved ones. I tend to do a great job for a while, then for whatever reason this priority fades to the background. This book is a tool to help you continue to lift up to Heaven, the names and situations of those you love.
More from the back cover:
“The Bible abounds with promises that make for rich, meaningful prayer. As you think of certain people, loved ones, children, friends or unbelievers, you can offer spiritual and material requests that are both specific to their needs and in line with scripture.”
When I was first saved I wouldn’t read any books such as this one because I wanted first to get a good grounding in the Bible. Once you have that you have more confidence to read and benefit from books by fellow believers.
One sign that a book is solid is that it points you directly to scripture. Lutzer’s book does that. Each weekly passage starts with one or two scripture verses.
To illustrate this, here’s an excerpt from a 53rd entry, the book’s appendix.
The passage is a prayer that we be sure of our salvation. It starts with Rev. 20:15 “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” and Rev. 22: 5 “And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illuminate them; and they will reign forever and ever” (both NASB).
In the context of those verses, Lutzer writes:
“The contrast between an eternal hell and an eternal heaven could not be more vivid, more motivating and above all more frightening. When I read these passages I ask myself: Where are the people who are too good to go to hell but not good enough to go to heaven?”
“Surely there is some middle ground, some eternal purgatory where the vast majority of decent but unconverted humans will reside.”
“But there is no such place.”
“The Bible paints reality like it is: either eternal torment or eternal bliss.”
“Imagine for a moment hordes of people resurrected to appear at the Great White Throne Judgment. We are struck with their diversity; the pauper stands next to the multibillionaire and the servant stands next to the king.”
“All religions are well represented as are all continents and countries. This vast multitude is united in this: Each person lacks the one thing needed to stand in the presence of a holy God; each one lacks the righteousness of Christ that can shield them from God’s anger and righteous judgments.”
The intercessory prayer sections at the end of each weekly passage have a blank space for you to fill in the name of your loved ones. The one in this appendix reads in part:
“And now I pray for (blank) that they also might have the assurance that they belong to You. I pray that you would reveal to them whether their faith is real or whether they are self-deceived. I am reminded of those who will someday say ‘Lord, Lord’ and then list the miracles You have done and yet You will reply, ‘I never knew you, depart from me you workers of lawlessness’ (Matt 7:23.).
Praying for loved ones that I couldn’t visit in person this last year helped me feel more connected to them and steadied nerves jangled by the virus crisis and the American election.
And remember, prayer is free, not quarantined or limited in supply. It’s a conversation with God.