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Lord Teach Me to Pray

Living in the Light / Anne Graham Lotz
The Truth Network Radio
September 6, 2020 3:00 pm

Lord Teach Me to Pray

Living in the Light / Anne Graham Lotz

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Luke 3.21 says of Jesus, And as he was praying, heaven was opened. If Jesus found it necessary to pray, why do we think we can take one step without it? This is Living in the Light with Anne Graham Lotz. And this week, Anne challenges us in her message from the life of Abraham with the question, For whom are you desperately praying?

Here's Anne. I have to confess, prayer is the biggest fight of my life. It's the weakest of my spiritual disciplines. I struggle with concentration, I struggle with consistency, I struggle with content. Prayer is the front line of the battle.

And that's where the enemy attacks the hardest and the most vicious. It's when we're on our knees in prayer, and sometimes he works just overtime to even keep us from getting on our knees. And then once we're there, the struggle that takes place is spiritual warfare. And so one of the things I do from time to time to help motivate me to pray, it's not so much that I need to learn how to pray, I just need to pray.

And once in a while I just need, you know, some motivation and a fresh look at it. And one of the things I do is to track through and take a glimpse of our Lord's prayer life. So I want you to just turn for a moment to Luke chapter 3, beginning with verse 21, and you're going to have to move pretty quickly with me, and you can just mark the verses as I go, because I'm going to pull out a verse from this chapter, then another chapter, then another chapter, just to track through and look at his prayer life.

It's really an amazing, very convicting study actually. In Luke chapter 3 verse 21, when all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him. And then chapter 5 verse 16, Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Chapter 6 verse 12, on one of those days Jesus went out into the hills to pray and he spent the night praying to God. Chapter 9 verse 18, once when Jesus was praying in private, his disciples were with him. So in other words, he prayed alone, he prayed in public, he prayed all night, he prayed in private. Verse 28 of that same chapter, eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John, and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. And as he was praying, the appearance of his face changed. Chapter 11 verse 1, one day Jesus was praying in a certain place and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, Lord, teach us to pray.

And he did. And I read through and see our Lord's prayer life and I ask myself, if Jesus found it necessary to pray, why do I neglect it? Why do I think I can take one step without it? And prayer is a necessity.

It's not an option. Prayer is a necessity. And the prayer that's now very familiar to us in Genesis chapter 18 and if you'll turn there, this is an example and I think Jesus is still going to teach us to pray, not using the Lord's prayer but using Abraham's prayer and it's an example of intercessory prayer.

And it gives us the basic principles and it teaches us the necessity and the privilege of interceding for those who are lost and who are in danger of falling under God's judgment. And so as we open our Bibles, we're going to look at intercessory prayer but I want to go back before we begin where prayer starts and pick up the first part of chapter 18 and just put this in context. Because in chapter 18, Abraham is sitting in the door of his tent and this is about 15 years after the last time we saw God come to Abraham in chapter 15. When God came to Abraham and made the covenant with him and said, Abraham, you're going to have a son from your own body and if you look at the stars of the heaven, your descendants are going to be as numerous as the stars.

And Abraham believed God and God counted it to him for righteousness and he entered into that covenant and he swore by himself and he said, Abraham, you can know I'll keep my promise to you because it's my promise and I back it with the integrity of my character and I've entered into this covenant with you and I swear by myself. And now 15 years later, Abraham is sitting in the door of his tent. It's in the middle of the day at noon and I expect he's sitting there trying to catch a breeze coming off of the desert and as he looks out into the desert, he sees the shimmering heat waves and little dust devils dancing and suddenly there are three men there. And he must have rubbed his eyes because, I mean, he was just looking out there on his empty desert and all of a sudden three men are right where it was empty before.

They hadn't walked up, they didn't come from anywhere, they were just suddenly there. And he jumps up and he runs to greet them and he invites them to come into his tent and have some refreshment. He wants to give them a meal and these three men agree and Abraham brings them into his tent while they're washing up and cooling off.

Then he runs and tells Sarah, we have guests for lunch and I want you to bake some bread and while she's doing that he goes out and finds the fattest calf he can and he slaughters it and he's broiling the stakes and she's baking the bread and they bring it in and they feed these three visitors. And after they've eaten, one of the visitors turns to Abraham and he says, where is Sarah? And Abraham says she's in the next tent and the Bible tells us that Sarah was in the next tent behind the tent flap but she's got her ear pressed up against the tent flap and she wants to hear what's being said because it's just so strange that these men would come in the heat of the day. People didn't travel in the heat like that and all of a sudden they've appeared and she's wanting to hear who they are and what they've come for and you know something about. So she's listening at the tent flap. And so then this man says, I'm going to come back and visit you next year. And this time next year Sarah will have a son. And Sarah who's listening behind the tent flap, maybe she didn't even crack a smile but she laughs inside herself. And she's thinking, I'm 90 years of age.

Even when I could have children I couldn't have children and does he think I'm going to have a baby at 90? And she thinks it's really funny. But she's laughing with sort of, you know if he really knew and maybe he thought Abraham had a younger wife or maybe he saw Hagar and thought Hagar was the wife and but 90? And so she's laughing in sort of derision. And the man who couldn't see her, she had made no expression, she had not made an outward sound. The man says, why did Sarah laugh? And the hair must have stood straight up on the back of her neck.

And so she's been trained well, she lied. And she said, she said I did not laugh. And the man says, oh yes you did laugh.

And I'm going to come back next year and you're going to have a son. And Abraham and Sarah knew that this was more than just a man. And because it appeared to Abraham several times and I think Abraham would have recognized his voice, he knew this was the Lord. And so after they'd finished the meal and after the Lord had told them that the three men get up and they're on their way to Sodom. And Abraham, now listen, he's just been told that he's going to have the promised seed.

The desire of his whole lifetime is going to come. The very thing that God used to motivate him to leave everything behind and let everything go and trust everything completely, this baby is coming. Wouldn't you think Abraham would have run to Sarah? And put his arms around and said, oh can you believe it, we're going to be parents, you're going to have a baby.

Let's go fix up the nursery and we need to get a tent ready. He would have been so preoccupied, wouldn't you think, with the fact that God was finally going to fulfill this promise he was going to have a desire of his heart. Instead, Abraham gets up and he leaves Sarah and he walks with these three men.

And you have the distinct impression he would rather be with the Lord than he would even stay and discuss and dream and plan about this wonderful answer to prayer he was receiving. And so he's walking with these men towards Sodom and that's where intercessory prayer begins. It begins with our walk. And Abraham is walking with God, wanting more to be with God than he is to even receive what God has to give him. And what does it mean to walk with God?

And I'm just going to put it in these terms when I'm home that exercise I get every day when it's pretty and it's not raining and I've done it when it snowed and I've done it freezing cold but it's just not when it's pouring rain, I walk with three miles with two friends. We have two rules or we don't walk together. And one rule is that we have to walk at the same pace and the other is that we have to walk in the same direction or we don't walk together. And when you walk with God the same two rules apply. It means you walk at his pace which is step by step obedience to his word. Listen to me, how can you be obedient to his word if you're not reading it? So you have to read it and apply it that you might obey it step by step by step and to walk in his direction means to surrender your will to his. You can't go off in a direction of your own. You've got to surrender to his and he doesn't adjust his pace or change his direction for you.

You have to adjust your pace and change your direction to suit him. And would you make the time to walk every day with God? Reading his word, applying it to your life so that you can be moment by moment obedient and surrender your will and the direction of your life and your goals and your dreams and your ambitions, you just surrender it to him. That's where intercessory prayer starts.

You see how important your walk is? And it starts not only with your walk, it starts with his word. In verse 17, then the Lord said, then, when?

When Abram was walking with him. And that's when God begins, I don't know if he's talking out loud, you know just saying what's on his mind out loud or if he's thinking within himself. But he is revealing his word because the Lord is speaking and we need to be in the word in our prayer time because the word reveals four things to us. And if you're not in the word, you're not going to know these things. One is the word reveals what's on God's mind. And how are you and I going to know what's on God's mind if we don't read the word and he reveals it to us?

You don't even know what I'm thinking. Unless I tell you. How could you and I know what God is thinking unless he would tell us? And so you have to be in the word to know what's on his mind. And it's as Abram is walking that God says, this is what's on his mind, shall I hide from Abram what I'm about to do? He wants to reveal to Abraham what his plan is, what his purpose is, what's on his mind, what he's thinking about. And he says, for I have chosen him.

And God has chosen you. And I believe he's chosen you in a unique way to know him and to make him known. Therefore, he is going to reveal things to you. He will give you insights into his word. He will give you an understanding. He is not going to hide things from you.

But you have to be in his word. That's where he reveals it to us. And he wants to reveal this to Abram. Who is Abraham? Abraham is one who has embraced the magnificent obsession. And he's going to raise his family to do the same thing.

Isn't it interesting? Isaac, even though he was sort of weak as an older man, Jacob, sort of manipulative and impulsive. Both of them embraced the magnificent obsession for themselves. And God knew he would raise his family in the same way. And so what's on God's mind?

You. Those of you who embrace the magnificent obsession and your families. And not just those within your home but those in your Bible studies and your Sunday school classes.

The ones that you're imparting the truth to. And he's chosen you because he knows the ministry that he's called you to. And he's going to give you special insights. And so it's through the word that we know what's on God's mind. And I don't walk as closely with God as I should or as I want to. As I pray I will next year. As I grow in my walk with him.

But I walk with him enough. And I've been in his word enough to know at least two things that are on his mind. And I'm convinced of this. And the two things on God's mind. One is salvation.

And two is judgment. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever would believe in him would not perish. That's the salvation. But if you don't believe you will perish. That's the judgment. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. The wages of sin is death. That's the judgment. But the gift of God is eternal life.

That's the salvation. And I know as God looks on the world today those two things are on his mind. And I think as he's walking with Abraham and talking with Abraham he is imparting to Abraham a burden. That he is giving Abraham the same burden for the lost.

Those who are coming under judgment and who need to be saved. Would you walk with God so he could open up his mind for you and so that you might know what he's thinking about. And there'll be some other specifics. And I know you're on his mind. And I know your family is on his mind.

And I know your class is on his mind. But I know the salvation of the lost is on his mind because he knows they're coming under judgment if they don't place their faith in Jesus. He's chosen you.

And he has. And it's a wonderful thing when we receive Christ we think we choose him but we turn around and we find he's chosen us. He has chosen us to know him and to make him known. He's chosen you uniquely to impart him to other people and he will reveal special things to you. And you see how could you pray for the lost?

How could you pray for the... unless you were in the Word. And if you're not walking with him you're not going to know what's on God's mind. That's how vitally important it is that you and I maintain our daily walk. So you walk with him every day. You're in his Word every day. And through his Word he opens up his mind. He opens up his ears and he says he listens to our cry. Then the Lord said verse 20. There's another then.

Then Abram's still walking with him. And so right then God said the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great there's sin so grievous I'm going to go down and see. Now I want to ask who was crying out?

The rocks? Was it the Spirit of God? We know there were really none righteous in Sodom. Now maybe Lot cried out once in a while.

I wonder if it was somebody like Melchizedek. Somebody in one of these other cities or towns or living outside of Sodom who knew the wickedness that was there and was crying out to God because of the wickedness that was in Sodom. When do you cry out to God for our nation? And cry out because of the wickedness that we see amongst our friends and our family members and our neighbors. And God opens his ears to our cry. Psalm 34 says the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry. The righteous cry out and the Lord hears them. And someone was crying out and God heard. And when I watch the evening news and when I read my newspaper and I see what's taking place in our nation and I see what's taking place in the world today I have to repress something not to cry out.

And these are some of the things that have made me cry out. When the worship of other gods is called multiculturalism. When the rejection of the authoritative truth of God's word is called moral pluralism. When that which is an abomination before God is endorsed as a legitimate lifestyle. When the killing of the unborn is as accepted as tooth extraction. When the killing of the elderly and the infirm is promoted as an act of mercy. When immorality is not just accepted but applauded and glorified. When profanity, obscenity and pornography are called freedom of expression. When the family unit is destroyed and marriage is redefined and God is stripped from the schools. When reliable standards of right and wrong and the time honored values of our forefathers are mocked, ignored, defied, rejected all in the name of tolerance. When the discipline of children is neglected in the name of self esteem.

When children are immersed in television, movies, music, magazines, internet games that glorify sex and violence. I'm telling you I cry out. And you've got to have a heart of stone not to cry out too. And we look around us in our nation and we see these things. And we cry out to God have mercy on us.

We wouldn't even know all of what I just read was an abomination to God if we didn't know the words. So don't point your finger at the world. They don't know any better do they?

They're just living comfortably in their old nature. And I guess my greatest concern is the sin within the church. People who know better and we know the truth. And we're merging with the world so you almost can't tell the difference between the world and those who know Christ. But we get into God's word and God's word the Bible says is like our schoolmaster. It's our plumb line and we hold up the plumb line and that reveals to us the sin in our lives. Because if we use the plumb line of the world you know they compare themselves to each other and if we're not careful we're going to compare ourselves with our neighbors or other people that are in our church. And we're going to think well I'm a little better than that person.

I'm not as bad as that person and so I'm okay. And we need the plumb line of God's word don't we? Because these standards haven't lowered and our world has lowered the standards so far down that when we compare ourselves with them out there there's a big difference between that and God's standards.

And we need to know the words so that there is a sense of outrage over what we see and the way the world is living. And that becomes a motive for prayer doesn't it? Not to shake our finger in the world's face and cluck our tongues and condemn them. God doesn't give us insight for that reason. He wants us to pray and to cry out to him and he hears the cry of the righteous. And so he opens his mind to us through the word. He opens his ears to us.

He opens his heart. He says their sin is so grievous. Who is it grievous to?

God. And grief is a love word isn't it? You don't grieve for someone you don't love. And God in looking at Sodom and Gomorrah and hearing the cry of the righteous his heart was broken. And as he looks at our world today I believe his heart is broken over what he sees. Would you allow him to break your heart with the things that break his heart? If we don't read our Bibles we won't even know what breaks his heart.

We won't even know what grieves him. You have to be in the word. And as we're in the word we discover also that he opens his very life to us. I didn't exactly know how to label this but when he comes down to see. And he didn't send the angels and he didn't send prophets and he just came himself. In answer to that outcry and he wanted to go down as though there was nothing else going on in the universe except what was taking place in Sodom and Gomorrah.

And you think about it from his perspective. He had just been to Abram's tent. And he said Abram you're going to have a son. Now God had been waiting a long time to send that baby. And all of his promises and he knew that was the embryo of the nation of Israel. And through the nation of Israel he would give his law and he would give the revelation of himself and all the sacrifices and the ceremonies that would point to Jesus. And one day he would send his own son through that fleshly line. Oh this was a momentous day in God's life if we can put it that way. And yet he goes down to see Sodom and Gomorrah. And they have his full attention as though he has nothing else to attend to in all of the universe except the wickedness that's taking place in this city. And he goes down in response to the cry of the righteous.

Whoever they might have been. And God comes down to see our world. If he went down to see Sodom and Gomorrah do you think he cares about our world less? And you know he doesn't need to watch CNN. He doesn't need a grand jury report.

He doesn't need an FBI investigation. He sees everything. He sees the deals behind the closed doors. And the whispers behind the backs. And the agendas hidden in political posturing. And the abuse of power that's called political savvy. The destruction of the environment.

Spin doctors that misinform the public. Preoccupation with perverted pleasure. The exploitation of the human body. Abusive innocent children. Spoiled goods sold as fresh.

Dangerous chemicals labeled safe. Covenants broken by whim. Truth exchanged for a lie. Glory given to the obnoxious. Honor given to the blasphemous.

Legalized acceptance of abomination. And he sees it all. And God has come down. And you know he didn't have to go down to Sodom and Gomorrah to see it.

You know that. He went down I think so in the light of who he is we would see what Sodom and Gomorrah was like. Otherwise we might have thought his judgment was too severe. But it's as those angels walk through and we see the way the town reacted that we're so repulsed and it's the contrast between their purity and their holiness and the wickedness of the city that it's in the contrast we see the wickedness and the sin. And it's like Isaiah the year that King Uzziah died when in a sense God came down into his life.

He saw the Lord high and lifted up but in the light of his holiness Isaiah who I think had been in ministry at least two years saw himself. Woe is me he said. I'm ruined. I'm a man of unclean lips. I live amongst the people of unclean lips. He saw his sin.

Now here's Ann with this final word. I wonder have you ever been like Abraham or me? After prayer have you seen what you thought was God's answer? Has it been much less or even contrary to what you've prayed?

Have you also thought that all was lost? Are you so defeated in prayer that you're tempted to quit? Are you reasoning that since prayer doesn't seem to make any difference anyway why bother?

Could it be that your view has only touched the surface and that the God who loves you and listens to you is moving in ways that you cannot see? Sometimes outward circumstantial evidence can give a false reading on what God's doing. In answer to Abraham's prayer all of Sodom was not saved but God remembered Abraham and the one Abraham cared about most Lot was saved. Twice Lot had chosen to live in Sodom. He did not heed the warning God had given him when he had been taken captive by the Eastern kings. He didn't deserve to be saved.

He had been superficial, selfish and sinful. But the angels had dragged Lot out of the city for no other reason than God remembered Abraham. Praise God he saved Lot for the sake of one righteous man who cared enough to pray. I wonder who would be saved if you cared enough to pray? You're listening to Living in the Light with Ann Graham Lotz. If today's program has challenged you in your prayer life and has provided free resources for your encouragement at and while you're there you can also find out more about Abraham's magnificent obsession. Plan to join us here again next week for Living in the Light.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-14 17:11:35 / 2024-03-14 17:21:46 / 10

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