Today's Hardshell Baptists do not think it is proper for them to pray for the lost, for any who are unregenerate. Thus, a Hardshell pastor recently told me how he was scolded for advising a brother to pray for his rebellious son (who has no appearance of regeneration). Many outside of the Hardshell cult will be shocked to learn that some who profess to be Christians actually think it wrong to pray for the salvation of the lost.
Is the sin in praying or not praying?
It is a serious error to believe that it is wrong to pray for the salvation of the unregenerate. Many Scriptures, as we shall see, support the practice, duty, and privilege of praying for the salvation of lost sinners.
Before we look at those Scriptures which authorize the kind of prayers neo Hardshells think wrong, let us notice how it is a violation of the law not to pray for the salvation of lost souls. Said the Lord Jesus:
"Master, which [is] the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second [is] like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." (Matt. 22: 36-40)
I know of no Hardshell who would say that it is not the duty of all men to obey the law, which includes loving our neighbors as we love ourselves. The duty is not to simply love some of our fellow men, as if we could choose to exempt some, but to love all men, for all are our neighbors.
But, how can I love my neighbor if I do not desire his well being? How can I exclude desiring his eternal salvation in desiring his well being? Surely not to desire it, or pray for it, is a failure to love, and is sin or a transgression of the law. Hardshells, by not desiring and praying for the salvation of their fellow men, their neighbors, are sinning against God. Notice these words of the prophet Samuel:
"Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way." (I Samuel 12: 23)
Because the Hardshells do not desire the salvation of all men and refuse to pray for their neighbor's eternal well being, they "sin against the LORD." In Christ's stead I call them to repentance in this regard.
Christ our Example
Christ prayed for his murderers and is our example. So did Stephen the martyr.
"I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men...For this [is] good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour." (I Tim. 2: 1-4)
Is it the Hardshell view that these verses exclude Christians from the duty of praying for the eternal well being of "all men"? Who can believe that they would make a virtue out of their sin?
"Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved." (Rom. 10: 1)
Who can believe that today's Hardshells vehemently oppose the common interpretation that affirms that the apostle was praying for the eternal salvation of lost Israelis? That they think such a prayer to be sin?