Few days have greater importance to those of us who are followers of Christ than Easter Sunday. On April 16, 2017, we will gather with solemnity because of the Cross and with celebration because of the Resurrection.

When seen through the perspective of history, Easter is, by every measure, the dividing line. Yes, I know there could not be a Good Friday or Easter without Christmas. Yet, Christmas would have signified nothing if Jesus had not died on the Cross as our Sacrificial Lamb to pay our sin debt. And Good Friday would have been “Disastrous Friday” if Easter Sunday morning had not arrived on schedule with the result of an empty tomb.

In the American culture, there are two times during the year when lost family members and friends are more willing to attend church with us, and those times are Christmas and Easter. There is still, especially in Oklahoma, a residue of Christian worldview that overshadows even the unbeliever. Therefore, Easter Sunday is a special time for us to share with others, through an invitation to church, the anchor truths of the Christian faith—a faith that is central to our lives.

So I passionately challenge you to do more than plan to attend your church on Easter Sunday. I urge you to begin today praying fervently for friends and family members who are not saved or not walking with the Lord. Pray beyond your “easy chair prayers.” I am calling on you to pray with the same kind of burden exemplified by the apostle Paul when he wrote, “Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.”

Pray that your family members and friends will receive and accept your invitation to attend Easter services with you. Your prayer must rise up and walk. You must, with sincerity of heart, ask them to attend church with you on Easter. Are you fearful that they might reject your invitation? Push through your fear with prayer and ask God to give you both boldness and success.

Now is the time to pray for your worship leader and your pastor. Pray that God will fall upon them with unusual Holy Spirit anointing. Ask the Lord to fill your pastor that he will speak the word of the Cross and Resurrection with the “demonstration of power.”

Pray that Easter will not be a normal Sunday. Pray that the presence of God is so real that people will recognize His presence when they drive onto the parking lot. Pray that the conviction of the Holy Spirit will move with power through the worship and preaching, and that the invitation will be marked by conviction and response.

Brothers and sisters, I think you have gotten the picture. My admonition to you is to step from the shadows of timid prayer into the arena of the battleground for the souls of men, women, boys and girls. Move beyond a rote prayer to grabbing hold of the horns of the altar of God. Ask God to give you such a burden for souls that you will weep over the souls of family and friends.

Let this promise guide your praying and your inviting:

“Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!

“He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him” (Psalm 126:5-6).