In 1997 Karen and I were planting our first church. Our church placed an ad in the Marietta Journal. The next week I received a letter from a man named Steve, who was serving time in the Cobb County Adult Detention Center. He asked if I would come visit him in jail. Because of Hebrews 13:3 and Matthew 25:36-39, I had a desire to reach out to those in prison. But, before I went to visit Steve, our church prayed for Steve for two straight weeks. We prayed for his salvation and for the Holy Spirit to move powerfully. When I met Steve, God did move powerfully. The Holy Spirit came on Steve, and he began crying as I shared the gospel with him. He prayed to receive Christ. I did not know it at the time, but Steve was a leader. His bunk mate received Christ the following week when I came to do some follow-up ministry. Every week thereafter men were receiving Christ.
God wants us to pray about everything, but God did not send His Son to die for cocktail trees, oak trees, and the many other things that He freely gives us. He sent His Son out of His love for people. The early church prayed for boldness, for open doors to share the gospel, and for souls and God answered their prayers. I encourage you to pray for your lost family members. I encourage you to pray for your neighbors and co-workers. I encourage you to pray for souls. I received a call from Steve last year, 22 years later. He is walking with Christ, and he called to say thanks for reaching out to him in prison. Oak trees and cocktail trees are temporal, but souls are eternal.