I once heard a prominent minister speak of going through a ministry-threatening burnout over his contracting of “world responsibility syndrome.” According to him, his prayer list had become so long and burdensome that he dreaded going into his prayer closet. Prayer had ceased to hold for him any delight, having become an absolute drudgery.
The Bible teaches us that prayer should release us from our anxieties (Philippians 4:6-7). It should never become a source of stress in our lives. Yet, to many people today, prayer has become stressful. Feeling duty bound to pray for too many people, they stumble beneath the load of their overloaded prayer lives.
When it comes to praying for the lost, many Christians have taken up the responsibility of praying for the salvation of every lost soul in the world. They may attempt to perform this self-imposed and impossible task by praying simple Tiny-Tim-type prayers: “God save everyone.” If they take this responsibility more seriously, however, they’re in for a stressed-out prayer life. After all, what Christian can singlehandedly bear the burden of a lost and dying world in his or her personal prayer closet or pray their way through a prayer list as long as our world’s lost population?
It’s not our responsibility to pray for every lost soul in the world. It is our responsibility to pray for the salvation of those lost souls for whom God burdens us. Furthermore, those God-given burdens are an assurance that prayers prayed under them will prove to be of great avail; otherwise, God would not have burdened us to pray. The fact that He has burdened us to pray is proof of a God-given opportunity to partner with Him in the salvation of some soul. Of course, this prospect is made all the more exciting when the souls for whom we are burdened are family members and friends.