Paul says in Romans 10:1 “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.” He says this in the context of explaining how Israel rejected righteousness by faith which, in turn, resulted in everyone outside of Israel learning of that righteous-by-faith salvation. Paul was an Israelite, a Jew. So, he was praying for his own people.
We must look back a chapter, to Romans 9, to see just how heartfelt Paul’s desire really is for his fellow Jews.
Romans 9:1-5 I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, (2) That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. (3) For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: (4) Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; (5) Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.
Paul is saying something like, “If I could be accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen, my fellow Israelites so that they could be saved then I’d be accursed.” Paul is saying, “so serious is my heaviness and anguish over their unbelief, that I’d go to hell in their place if I could” That’s Paul’s heart for his fellow Israelites. That’s real zeal!
So, when Paul says in Romans 10:1 “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved,” he has real heart desire, and is talking about real on your face for your fellow man prayer.
If we had a heart like Paul for our lost kinsmen we’d be saying “I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart, so much so that I could wish to be cursed and cut off from Christ for the benefit for my fellow American.” That’s what we see in Paul. That is a passion for your own people to know the awesome salvation of God, which is righteousness by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
This sort of passion for lost people is in keeping with what Christ calls us to. Christ calls us to daily choose to die to our self-seeking ways in order to follow Him. He pursues people for salvation. So, if we die to ourselves to pursue Him, we must join Him in also pursuing people for salvation. Follow this logic again: Jesus calls you to daily die to yourself to pursue Him. His pursuit was and is for the eternal salvation of people. So, if you daily die to yourself to pursue Christ, then, ultimately, you are dying to pursue people with the good news that Christ is pursuing them.
So let’s join Paul in praying with life giving fervency for our own lost kinsmen. And let’s also pray with Paul for the lost of Israel – that Jews in droves would believe on Jesus Christ as the Messiah.