In Peter's second Epistle, the disciple addresses scoffers who will make fun of the fact that Jesus hasn't returned yet. Wanting to encourage us, Peter explains:
But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:8–9).
His point is that God doesn't judge time as we do. If He appears to be taking His time on returning, it's because He's being patient and giving everyone as much time as possible to turn to Him.
Jesus desperately longs to be reconciled with everyone—including those in your community.
Praying for your city
You might be passionate about sharing the gospel with those in your town, but you're not sure where to start. That's OK! Starting with prayer is always your best bet. Not only does Jesus get excited about answering these kinds of prayers, but they also significantly increase your passion for reaching those around you.
Whether you're praying with your church, small group, your family, or by yourself, these suggestions will give you some ideas for praying passionately for your city's lost.
1. Pray for leaders and those in authority
Throughout the Bible, people tend to follow the example of their leaders. When leaders are righteous, people respond in kind. Sadly, the inverse is often true, too. That's why Paul tells Timothy:
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:1–4).
Pray for influential people and authority figures to have soft hearts toward the gospel. Pray for them to create an atmosphere of peace in your community where the Lord can move and draw people.
2. Pray for the citizens
Ask the Holy Spirit to begin softening the hearts of people in your city and make them open to the gospel. Pray for God to surround the non-Christians in your community with people who love the Lord and demonstrate what it's like to be salt and light.
3. Pray for churches in your city
Pray that the Christian churches around you would boldly proclaim the good news. Ask God to awaken their hearts to the Great Commission and pray that making disciples of Jesus would be their primary concern. Ask the Lord to help grow a sense of unity between the churches in your area.
For all the people attending these churches, pray for boldness to share their faith with the people around them. Ask the Holy Spirit to create a passion in their hearts to lead others into a relationship with Jesus.
Lastly, ask the Lord to build up churches that create thankfulness from others in the community. Pray that the churches will serve and love in a way that makes even the most strident critics of the gospel grateful for their influence.
4. Pray Habakkuk's prayer
In the book of Habakkuk, we see a prophet begging for God to move on behalf of Israel. He cried out in worship to God and in frustration that evil seemed to flourish. Amid his lamentations and pleas, he says:
Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy (Habakkuk 3:2).
Ask God to move throughout your city. And like the prophet, ask the Lord to demonstrate His mercy.
It all starts with prayer
If you want to share the love of Jesus with your city, it needs to begin with heartfelt intervention. James says, "You do not have because you do not ask God" (James 4:2b). Before you begin creating an outreach strategy, ask the Lord to prepare hearts in your community.
All Scripture references quote the New International Version.