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Intercessory Prayer - Genesis Part 41

So What? / Lon Solomon
The Truth Network Radio
May 14, 2022 7:00 am

Intercessory Prayer - Genesis Part 41

So What? / Lon Solomon

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Now you know, after 35 years of being a pastor, it's interesting to look back and reflect on the things that people over the years have asked me to do. A few people have asked me to preach a certain sermon for them.

Even fewer people have asked me to do a good wedding for them. To the best of my knowledge, nobody has ever asked me to lead a good congregational meeting for them, although we try to do that. But you know, there's one thing that as a pastor I get asked to do, I think every single week, probably multiple times every single week, and that is people come up to me and say, Pastor, please pray for me.

Now certainly these people are praying for themselves, but I think as followers of Christ we all recognize the tremendous power that comes from having other people pray for us. And that's what we're going to talk about today as we continue our series in the book of Genesis. We're going to talk about intercessory prayer, praying for other people because, well, that's what our passage is all about today. So are you ready? All right, here we go.

But a little bit of review first. Let's make sure we're all caught up. If you remember here in Genesis chapter 18, three men came to visit Abraham while he was living in Hebron, a little town just south of Jerusalem.

You'll see it on the map that we've put up. Two of these men, we learn from the chapter, were angels in human form. The other, the third man, was Jehovah God Himself in a theophany.

A theophany is nothing more than a fancy theological word for an appearance of God in human form. And why had these three men come to see Abraham? Well, they had come, number one, to announce the pregnancy of Sarah, Abraham's wife, and number two, to announce the birth of his son, Isaac. So that's where we've been.

And so let's pick up and see what happens next. Verse 16. Then the three men rose, the Bible says, from lunch, and looked down toward Sodom. And Abraham was walking with them to send them off. Then the Lord said, that is, to the two angels, Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? For I have chosen him. And so the Lord said to Abraham, The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave.

I will go down now and see if they have done entirely according to its outcry which has come to me, and if not, I will know. Then the two men turned away from there and went toward Sodom while Abraham was still standing before the Lord. Now Abraham knows that in Sodom God will indeed find all the sin that's rumored to be there and more. And Abraham knows that as a result God is going to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. But the problem is Abraham's nephew Lot, if you remember, and his family, they live in Sodom.

Remember Genesis 13. They chose, Lot did, to go down and live in the area of Sodom and Gomorrah. And Lot is a godly man and Lot is someone Abraham loves. And of course, if God destroys the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, He's going to end up destroying Lot and his family. And so Abraham begins to appeal to God, asking God to have mercy on the city of Sodom for the sake of Lot and for the sake of any other righteous people who live there.

Watch. Verse 23. So Abraham drew near and said to the Lord, Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Abraham said, Suppose there are 50 righteous people within the city. Will you indeed sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the 50 righteous people who are in it? Abraham says, Far be it from you, Lord, to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from you, Lord, shall not the judge of all the earth do right? So the Lord said, If I find in Sodom 50 righteous people, then I will spare the whole place on their account. Then Abraham said, Now behold, I have ventured to speak to the Lord, even though I'm but dust and ashes. Suppose the 50 righteous are lacking five. Will you destroy the whole city because of the lack of five?

How much do you love this? I mean, once Abraham gets God to agree to 50, now he starts bargaining with God. And you say, Why did he do that? Well, probably because he knew that there weren't 50 righteous people in Sodom. And so he's trying to get God down to some reasonable number. And the Lord said, I will not destroy the city if I find 45 there. And Abraham spoke to the Lord again and said, Suppose 40 are found there. And the Lord said, I will not destroy it on the count of the 40.

Then Abraham said, Oh, may the Lord not be angry. And I shall speak again, suppose 30 are found there. And the Lord said, I will not do it if I find 30 there. Then Abraham said, I have ventured to speak to the Lord, suppose 20 are found there. And the Lord said, I will not destroy it on the count of the 20. Finally Abraham said, Oh, may the Lord not be angry. And I will speak only this one more time, suppose 10 are found there. And the Lord said, I will not destroy the city on the count of the 10. Then as soon as he had finished speaking with Abraham, the Lord departed and Abraham returned to his home. You say, Wow! Wow! Abraham got God down from 50 to 10. What a great bargainer.

Well friends, have you ever met a Jew that wasn't? I mean, let's remember who we're dealing with here, all right? Uh-huh. But just before we finish the passage, there is one question that begs to be answered. And that question is, why did Abraham stop at 10?

I mean, why didn't he keep going to 5 or lower? Well, that's a really good question. And the Bible doesn't tell us the answer and I can't promise you that I know the answer. But I have a theory.

Anyway, follow my theory. It goes like this, Abraham knows that Lot, who's a godly man, and his wife live in Sodom. So that's two. Then Genesis 19-8 tells us that Lot had two unmarried daughters who lived in his home. And Abraham assumes that Lot's godliness will have rubbed off on them and they will be godly women.

So that's what? That's four. Then Genesis 19-14 tells us that Lot has two son-in-laws who are married, obviously, to two of his other daughters whom Abraham assumes would also be godly women. Now how many do we have?

We got eight. And then I think Abraham figured, well, after living there for years, surely Lot's godly example must have rubbed off on at least two people in the whole city. And that gets us to what?

Ten and the city is saved. How sad it is that when we get to Genesis 19 we're going to discover that not only had Lot failed to influence anybody for God in that town, but worse, he had failed to even influence his own nuclear family for God. Meaning when we really boil it down, the only godly person in town was Lot. What that means, friends, is for Abraham to have saved Sodom. Do we understand?

He would have had to negotiate God down, not to ten people, but to one person. Now, that's as far as we're going to go in the passage for today because we're going to ask our most important question. So are you ready? All right.

Everybody at Louden, everybody at Prince William, all you guys at Bethesda, down in the Edge, around the World Internet Campus. We've got a lot of people here that need to ask this most important question. Are we ready? Okay, okay. Here we go. Come on now.

One, two, three. So what? Yeah. You say, so what, Lon? Say, that's a really interesting story.

And you know, one thing it does is it tells me if I ever need to bargain for something, I know who to go find to help me. But other than that, that was funny. You didn't think that was funny?

You go find a Jewish person to help you. You didn't think that was funny? Okay.

Well, anyway, I thought it was funny, which is why I said it. What are we talking about? We're talking about how this relates to you and me. And what we want to really look at is we want to look at Abraham's prayer, his intercessory prayer for the people of Sodom and the city of Sodom because there are some great lessons about prayer for us today in Abraham's prayer. Now, the Bible tells us that there are a number of different kinds of prayer that we can pray. For example, one kind of prayer we can pray is called adoration, which is all about praising God for who He is. Another kind of prayer is confession, which is all about admitting to God in prayer the wrongs that we have done and seeking His forgiveness. Another kind of prayer is supplication, which is all about lifting up our own needs to God in prayer and asking Him to help us with our struggles. But the kind of prayer that we see here in Genesis 18 is a fourth and different kind of prayer. The Bible calls it intercession. Intercession is prayer that lifts up to God the needs of other people.

And we see the Lord Jesus Himself carrying on intercessory prayer while He was here on earth. Luke chapter 22, He says to Peter, He says, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has obtained permission to sift you like wheat. What's the Lord talking about? Well, He's talking about how Peter is going to deny the Lord three times and how it's going to be devastating to Peter for that to happen.

Watch. But Jesus says, I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. Friends, this is the essence of intercessory prayer. It's found in those six words of Jesus, but I have prayed for you. And here in Genesis chapter 18, Abraham has one of the greatest intercessory prayers in all of the Bible. I mean, it's intercessory prayer at its best. He does it right and there are three principles in His prayer that I want us to extract and bring forward because we can copy them in our prayer life. So that whether we're praying for ourselves, supplication, or whether we're praying for other people, intercession, if we build our prayers on these three pillars, we will see God do something in response just like Abraham did.

So are you ready? Okay, here we go. Principle number one is when we pray, we must remember that we are approaching a merciful God and that we can be bold because we are approaching a merciful God. Now what exactly do we mean by mercy? Well friends, mercy is kindness or benevolence beyond what might be reasonably expected. It is undeserved kindness and we see it right from the beginning of the human race with Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden deliberately rebelled against God and they deserved judgment. They deserved death but instead God showed them undeserved kindness, undeserved tenderness, undeserved forgiveness. And how do we explain this?

Very simple, my friends. Our God is a merciful God. Listen to these verses of Scripture. Psalm 103 verse 10, For God has not dealt with us according to our sins. Praise the Lord for that. Nor has He rewarded us as our iniquities deserved. Praise the Lord for that too. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His mercy towards those who fear Him. Psalm 130 verse 3, If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? Ah, but there is mercy with you.

How great is that? Folks, look. If you're smart, you will never ask God to give you what you deserve.

Don't do that. Because if God were to give you and me what we deserve, we would all be in a peck of trouble. Listen, we don't want God to be fair with us. We want God to be merciful to us.

And this is what when we go to prayer, whether we're praying about our finances or our job or our family or our health or asking for forgiveness or whatever it is, when we go to God in prayer, we need to go on this basis. Lord, have mercy on me. Lord, I'm asking you to do this in your mercy for me or in your mercy for this other person.

And let me give you some really good news. And that is the Bible tells us that mercy is not something God shows or doesn't show based on how He's feeling that day. Mercy is an integral part of who God is. It's an undeniable part of God's character that never changes.

In other words, listen here. When we ask God for mercy, folks, we are not trying to talk God into something that He is not already wanting to do. When we ask God for mercy, we are asking Him for something that by His very character and nature He is already prone to want to do. The mercy of God, Psalm 103, is from everlasting to everlasting. Who is a God like you? Micah chapter 7. Who pardons sin and what's the next word? And delights in mercy.

Wow. How great is it to have a God who delights in mercy. What if we had a God who delighted in judgment?

That would be horrible. But we have a God who delights in mercy. Psalm 86 verse 5, O Lord, You are abundant in mercy to what's the next word?

What is it? To all those who call upon You. So this is principle number one of intercessory prayer. That we are dealing with a merciful God. And this is why Abraham was so bold in approaching Him and asking for mercy for the people of Sodom because Abraham knew that in doing so he had God's ear instantly. And friends, when you and I approach God and we ask for mercy, we have God's ear instantly because it's part of who He is.

Number two. Principle number two of intercessory prayer is that when we pray we must remember that we are approaching a God who loves to answer prayer. I mean over and over and over the Bible says this. Listen, Jeremiah 33, call unto me and I will answer you, the Lord says.

And I will show you great and mighty things that you know not. Psalm 50 verse 15, Call unto me in the day of trouble, God says, and I shall rescue you. Psalm 81 verse 10, I love this verse, I am the Lord your God, open your mouth wide and I will fill it. This is principle number two of intercessory prayer that God loves to answer prayer. He delights in answering prayer and therefore we should have no hesitation ever to take our needs and the needs of other people to God in prayer and we should take them with expectancy and we should take them with confidence just like Abraham did for the people of Sodom because we're approaching a God who is inclined to want to answer prayer.

Principle number three and finally is that when we pray we need to remember that we're approaching a God who responds to prayers that are prayed in humility. James 4, 6 says, God is opposed to the proud but he gives grace to the humble. Psalm 138 verse 6, Even though the Lord is exalted, and he is, yet he regards the humble. And finally Isaiah 57 verse 15, For thus says the high and exalted one, I dwell in a high and holy place.

Of course you do, Lord. But also, God says, with the contrite and the humble of spirit in order to revive the spirit of the contrite and revive the heart of the humble. And you know here in Genesis 18, it is impossible to look at Abraham's prayer and miss his humility.

Now think about it for a moment. If there were anybody alive on the face of the earth in Genesis 18 who should have felt the right to approach God, the entitlement to approach God and ask for things, it should have been Abraham. I mean Abraham was the recipient of the Abrahamic Covenant, Genesis 12. Right here in this chapter God says, I have chosen him out of all the people in the world. And Isaiah 41 says, What did God choose him for?

Well, among other things, he chose him to be God's special friend. And yet, look how Abraham approached God. Verse 27, Genesis 18, Abraham said, Now behold, I have ventured to speak to the Lord, although I am but dust and ashes. Verse 30, Oh, may the Lord not be angry, and I shall speak again. Verse 32, Oh, may the Lord not be angry, and I will speak only one more time. The point, my friends, is that there wasn't even a hint of presumption or entitlement or hubris in Abraham's heart.

Why? Because Abraham understood that God responds to prayers prayed in humility. You say, Balaam, this makes no sense.

This makes no sense. On the one hand, you're saying we need to be bold when we pray. And on the other hand, you're saying we need to be humble when we pray. This is like a spiritual oxymoron. I mean, it's like a complete contradiction in terms. No, it isn't.

No, it isn't at all. Listen here. Look at me carefully. Listen. These things fit together perfectly.

Watch. We pray boldly because we know that we are approaching a merciful God who delights in answering prayer. But we pray humbly because we know that the reason God answers any of our prayers is because of who He is, not because of who we are. And those two things go together absolutely in tandem. They did in Abraham's prayer.

They will in your prayers. I mean, these things are like peanut butter and jelly. These things are like ham and cheese. These things are like lox and bagels. You understand what I'm saying?

They are perfectly compatible. And when we approach God boldly but humbly, oh man, that's when we see God really respond just like He did for Abraham. So let's conclude. Hebrews 4 16 says, Let us come boldly to the throne of grace, boldly to the throne of grace. This is what Abraham did as we saw in Genesis 18. It's what the Lord wants us to do. And this is the case both with intercessory prayer for others and with prayers for ourselves. And remember why we can do this. We said it a moment ago.

Let's say it again. We can be bold because we have a merciful God. We can be bold because we have a God who's just waiting to answer prayer. And we can be humble because we understand that He's not going to do this because of us.

He's going to do it because of Him. When we mix that together perfectly, we will see God do something with our prayers. Now, that's the so what. But I want to close with a now what. You say now what? Yeah. Inside of your bulletin there's a card that says prayer warriors.

And this is the action item I've got for you today from all of this. We have a team of intercessors here at McLean Bible Church. We call them prayer warriors who pray on the back.

You check areas that you want to be sent once every couple weeks, once a month. Prayer requests and that you promise you're going to pray for them as intercessors for the ministry here at McLean Bible Church. Friends, if you're already a prayer warrior, you don't need to do a thing.

We're just going to let it keep going for you. But if you're not, we want you to join our prayer warrior team. We need your prayers here at this church. In order to be able to make the impact for Christ, we want to. In order to protect this church from the schemes of the enemy, we need to be covered by hundreds and hundreds of people praying. And if you're not one of them, we want you to be.

And what you do is you either fill out the card and drop it off at the welcome center or you go on our website and you can sign up right on the home page. But I want you to become a prayer warrior for this church and intercede for us. And let me close by saying, and I hope you don't misunderstand this, that we covet your prayers here.

I have people walk up to me all the time in the lobby and go, Oh, Lon, that was great. Oh, that was awesome. Oh, that was the best sermon. You're the best thing since sliced bread.

And all this kind of other stuff. Folks, I don't believe any of that. I know what I'm made of. I'm rotten to the core. Trust me. That's why I needed a Savior.

You know what I'm saying? And I don't need compliments. I need prayer. Because I got feet of clay like everybody else does. And I say to them, Thank you very much. Please pray for me.

Thank you very much. Please pray for me. I don't need compliments. I need prayer. And everybody on our staff does.

And this whole ministry does. You understand what I'm saying to you? So can I count on some of you to join our prayer warrior team? Will you do it? Will you do it? All right.

Thank you so much. Let's pray. Heavenly Father, thanks for talking to us today about how to pray effectively and powerfully. Thanks for the example of Abraham. And help us to follow his example to emulate the principles that his prayer was based on. And may our prayers become that much more effective and powerful because of what we learned today. And Lord, motivate many people to become prayer warriors with us. That we might cover this church with thousands of people praying. And that we might, as a result of that, have the power of Christ operating here to impact this city for you. Lord, thanks again for teaching us today. And we pray these things in Jesus' name.

And what do God's people say? Amen. Thank you. Have a nice day. You
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-18 15:52:59 / 2023-04-18 16:02:33 / 10

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