Death, Prayer, Eternity, and "What If ..."
Long ago (40 years) and far away a minister speaking at a meeting of ministers and their wives challenged us to believe God for big things and make up our own prayer list of something like our own 10 most wanted people who were not saved - people who are well known and who have a powerful influence on others. Those like Saul of Tarsus in the first century that Christians would consider the last likely to be saved and serve Jesus Christ. There IS power in prayer. God will not take away someone’s free will and "make them be saved" whether they want to be saved or not. However, we are reminded that even today we often have not because we have not asked.
In case you are too young to remember the world situation 40 years ago, there were communist leaders in Russia and China for the list. Madalyn Murry O'Hair was in the news (her son did come to the Lord) and the publishers of Playboy and Hustler which were growing in popularity. The Beatles declared that they were more popular than Jesus. Legal abortion became allowed by law. (Some leaders in that industry have come to the Lord.)
New names have been added to the list during the years including leaders of Muslim nations. Part of examining ourselves involves pondering "what if" sometimes. It did not happen - but what if Osama Bin Laden had heard a radio or TV broadcast, or found a Christian web site on the Internet, and accepted Jesus as his savior and made that known to his followers, and the world? What would be the reaction of the Christian community? Some would refuse to believe he was sincere. There would be those who would jump at the opportunity to make money with a book or movie rights. Some would react like the older brother in Jesus' parable of the prodigal son and reject him and even say that he was too wicked to be saved even though they claim to believe that Jesus will forgive anyone.
Several of us lived through the sad stumbling and fall of some popular televangelists who were stars in the Christian community. Many "Christians" were watching every newscast for the latest information, and then gossiping with other "Christians" about the sinfulness of these men. Their expression changed to shock, and they fell silent when you asked them if they had spent as long praying for them and their families as they did talking about them.
Death reminds us to think seriously about eternity. Everyone who is going to heaven to spend eternity with our Lord need to be concerned about where our relatives, friends, co-workers, and neighbors - even world figures - will spend eternity. We all know people who are not saved that we need to pray for. Do we really care? Do we say: "If they go to hell that is their choice and their problem?" Is our attitude that we are not our brother's keeper? Are we too busy to share or pray for them? Or, do we weep and pray that others will be saved?