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Lift Everything Up – Part 2

Living in the Light / Anne Graham Lotz
The Truth Network Radio
November 5, 2023 3:00 pm

Lift Everything Up – Part 2

Living in the Light / Anne Graham Lotz

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Here's Anne Graham Lotz. You don't have to know exactly what to pray or how to pray in order to start praying. Just pray. Welcome to Living in the Light with Anne Graham Lotz. There's so much we can learn from the life of Abraham, and today's message is all about prayer, taken from Genesis 18 and 19.

Let's join Anne now. In Genesis 18 21, God told Abraham he was going to go down and see Sodom and Gomorrah to give those cities his undivided attention. Don't misunderstand. God knew exactly the evil that was going on in Sodom and Gomorrah, but he wanted Abraham and Lot and you and me to look over his shoulder and see too. 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 is 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 a people of unclean lips. He saw his sin.

Listen to me. God has come down, hasn't he? And he's moved in our midst, and as we've been in his word and we've been walking with him, has he revealed sin in your life?

You know, before we point the finger at the world and all these abominable things, what is there in our lives that we need to confess and from which we need to repent? But I think, after the Lord has been in our midst, one appropriate response is to get down before him and ask him, what do you see in my life that I need to confess and get right with you? The Lord comes down to see, and it's a personal coming down and seeing.

And we need to see what he sees, that we might confess it, that we might get right before him. And isn't that what Jesus did? When he left his throne in heaven and he came down, and he dwelt amongst us and he walked in our midst, and in the light of who he is, the whole world could see it's sin. And when he died on the cross, we know that sin must be exceedingly grievous to God, exceedingly sinful, if it costs him the life of his own son. And it's who Jesus is that reveals the wickedness of our sin.

But he went down to Sodom and Gomorrah to see the sin that was there. So when we pray for the lost and those who are coming under judgment, our prayer should start with our own personal walk with God, every day reading his word, asking what does it say, what does it mean, what does it mean to me? Some days God will speak to you personally, some days he won't seem to do that, but he will give you insight and understanding because he's chosen you and he doesn't want to hide things from you.

Jesus said, I no longer call you servants, I call you my friend, because what God has revealed to me I'm going to reveal to you. And then he said, I'm going to send you the Holy Spirit who will guide you into all truth and give you an understanding of the things that you read. He wants to reveal himself to you through the word, but you've got to be walking with him and you've got to be in the word in order for him to reveal it to you. How will you and I know how to pray if we don't start there? So prayer starts with our walk and it starts with his word and then prayer stays in his presence. Verse 22, the men turned away and went towards Sodom but Abraham remained standing before the Lord and he's just lingering in God's presence, just detaining God for a few minutes. And it reminds me of the disciples on the Emmaus road, do you remember after the resurrection? And Jesus appeared to them, they didn't know it was Jesus, he talked to them along the way and their hearts burned within them and there was just something about it, they just didn't want him to leave. And so they said please come and have dinner with us and he came in and it was when he broke the bread that they realized who it was.

But they just wanted him to stay a few more minutes. How long has it been since you just lingered in your prayer time? How long has it been since you just wanted to stay on your knees? And I'll tell you something, I've been so convicted about this because in my busyness I've got so many things to do and I give so much time to my prayer time then I've got to get up and do something else and then I have to do something else and I've been so bad about just finishing what I was up to and jumping up and going on to the next thing. And just be quiet before him, read the word, be quiet, see if he brings something to my mind, pray back to him and just stay in his presence. This week just see if you can carve out some quiet time like that where you don't have an agenda, you can start with your walk in his word and then just linger there for a little while and see if God will show you something you wouldn't have seen if you had just moved through it quickly. When we pray don't quickly close your Bible, jump up off your knees, wait for a few minutes.

I always take a pencil and paper into my prayer time. In the event he has something to say to me and you would think if God spoke to you you would never forget it but you know with my mind the way it is I need to write it down or I may forget and I don't ever want to forget the personal things he says. And so prayer stays in his presence and prayer then approaches his person. It says in verse 23 then Abraham approached him and Hebrews 10 23 says let us draw near to the Lord in full assurance of faith. 1 John 5 says this is the assurance we have in approaching God if we ask anything to his will he hears us. Hebrews 11 6 anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

When you pray are you consciously aware that you are approaching a living person? He is not a figment of your imagination. He is not empty space. He is not a ghost. He is not an icon in a church. He is not a figure in a stained glass window.

He is not a statue. He is a living person with ears to hear and eyes to see and a heart to love you. And when you approach him you are approaching a living person who bends down his ear and he wants to hear every word you have to say to him. Oh it can just so change your attitude towards your prayer time. When you go into your prayer time not because you have to pray you know it is just part of the Christian life but because he is there. It is a divine appointment. A living person is waiting for you.

Maybe you want to set up you know another chair if you are sitting in your living room pull up another chair or if you are sitting out on your porch pull up another chair. Just you are here and he is there and he is invisible but he is present and you are approaching a living person. It is like he stops the universe.

Nothing more important than sitting there to hear what you have to say. And Abram approached him staying in his presence approaching his person and then he began to speak. And I think Abraham at this point as God has expressed to him what is on his heart, what is on his mind and he is going to come down and see and give his very life to the lost. I think Abraham is beginning to feel very burdened for his family and for his friends, for his neighbors, for the people who are lost and getting ready to come under judgments. And I believe that burden comes straight from the heart of God. And I believe God also was burdened for Abraham's neighbors and for his family and for the lost who are getting ready to come under his judgment.

Because I think if he wasn't he wouldn't have stayed. But when Abraham stayed in his presence God stayed with him and he allowed himself to be detained because this was a burden on his heart also. And so we see Abraham speaking very respectfully and in verse 23 Abram says, he approached him and said will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? And in the last part of verse 25 he says, far be it from you will not the judge of all the earth do right. In other words God this just doesn't seem right to me. I don't understand if you are the judge who does everything right and you are going to sweep the righteous away the wicked that just doesn't jive, that doesn't match what I know about you. Now what does God seem to be doing that you think doesn't seem right? And we need to be very careful when we say something like that to God because you understand we get our sense of rightness from God. Our sense of righteousness and our sense of justice and when we say God that's not fair listen to me where do you think you got your sense of fairness from?

And so we need to be very careful and not set ourselves up as somebody who is more fair, more just, more right than God. So when we come to him we can say God that doesn't seem right help me understand but do it respectfully. And Abram comes to him respectfully Lord that just doesn't seem right and then he begins his prayer and prayer is not a monologue you do know that. Prayer is not just getting on your knees and going down your shopping list.

Prayer is a conversation where we talk with God and he talks with us. And so you see him praying responsibly in verse 23 to 25 Abraham speaks. Verse 26 God answers him. 27 to 28 Abraham prays. 28 the Lord speaks back. Verse 29 the first part Abraham speaks.

Verse 29 the last part the Lord speaks. Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. You know if you're talking with your best friend and you break out into this monologue that goes for 60 minutes.

How long do you think she would stay there? And maybe she would last five minutes but even then she'd start to roll her eyes and she'd want to get a word in edgewise. We don't have to have a monologue with God. You say something let him say something. That's why you always take your Bible into your prayer time. And you can speak to him and you let him speak to you. Let me share with you from the daily light how I prayed for you. And this was just the morning's reading of the daily light, just the scripture. And the lead verse was Christ loved the church and gave himself for her that he might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word. And I said Lord does that mean you love the church? The body of Christ has come together this weekend at the cove and that you're going to sanctify them and cleanse them with the washing of the water by the word? And all weekend we've been washed with the water of the word and he says Ann yes I'm going to sanctify them by my truth and my word is truth. And then I say Lord your word has given me life. And the Lord says Ann I know because the law of the Lord is perfect.

It converts the soul. And I say Lord is there anybody here who needs to be converted? Anybody here who needs to be changed when your perspective and as the word goes out would you convert the soul? And he says Ann the testimony of the Lord is sure making wise the simple.

And so I say God there's some people here who think they're so simple would you give them wisdom? Help them to understand your word and the statues of the Lord are right rejoicing the heart. God as they study your word give them joy. I could hear that you all sharing it with each other and the joy you had discussing the scriptures with each other and the commandment of the Lord is pure enlightening the eyes. And I say Lord please open their eyes that they would understand your word. And he did. And you take God's word and you spring off of it. Doesn't that help? You don't have to come up from scratch in your prayer life.

You can read the word and use that to spring off of. And Abraham was talking to God and God was talking to him and he was talking to God and God was talking to him and it was a conversation. He spoke respectfully, responsibly, he spoke repeatedly. Abraham asked again and again and again what he wanted. And as he prayed his prayer just sort of got narrowed down and he got more and more focused didn't he? Because I think as he was praying God was teaching him how to pray and what to pray for.

And it reminds me of Daniel in chapter 9. By the way another fabulous prayer if you want to pray for the nation that's a fabulous prayer and Daniel is praying for his nation. But it says at the end of that prayer while he was still praying, while he was still speaking to God the angel Gabriel came to him and gave him insight and understanding. And often it's while we pray God gives us insight and understanding. This happens for me most often I have to admit when I pray with others. And when I pray with my prayer team not as often as we need to but Helen and I and another member of our prayer team will pray over the schedule and opportunities God has given me. And as we get on our knees and we are praying together even while we pray God gives me insights. And Abraham as he was praying I believe was given insight in how to pray.

And he was starting out with the 50-45 until he came right down to the 10. And I'm wondering was he praying for the 10 because he knew and we know from chapter 19 there are at least 10 members of Lot's family. And you can count them up and you know there are at least 10 members of his family living in Sodom. What he was really praying for I wonder is Lord save my loved ones. And if they can stand in the gap for all of wicked Sodom so be it. Just I want you to save Sodom and save Gomorrah but save the righteous in there.

Don't sweep the righteous away with the wicked and Lord I know Sodom deserves judgment but Lot lives there would you save all of Sodom in order to spare Lot and his family. So I really think bottom line he was praying for his nephew and his family and God had just taken him and while he prayed just narrowed his prayer down until it became very specific. And he was praying exactly for what was on his heart. So while you pray while you are speaking respectfully and responsibly and repeatedly God will show you how to pray.

And give you insight and understanding and we need to come and believe that he is going to hear us. And Abraham stopped praying with the assurance that God had heard and I think he knew that when God became quiet. Because in verse 33 God had responded you know step by step 50, 45, 40, 35 and God had kept responding. When Abraham got to 10 God was quiet.

He was silent. No longer did he quicken Abraham to pray anymore. And when God stopped Abraham stopped.

And I think at that point Abraham quit and returned home because he had no more faith to believe for 9, 8, 7 and I want to be careful with that. But I believe God can put a burden on our heart and give us faith to believe that he is going to hear and answer our prayer the way we are praying it and basing our prayer on his word. Listen don't base your prayer on a wish or on a hope so or on a want. That is why you don't have faith to believe he is going to give it to you. You base your prayer on God's word and you pray God's word.

Hold him to God's word. And that is where the faith comes in because you can believe God's word. And God had said yes for 10 I will spare the righteous but he didn't go past that. So past that Abraham had nothing on which to rest his faith and so he had no more faith to believe that God would do it for 9 or 8 or 7.

Do you see? And it is very important when you and I pray that we believe that God is not only listening but that he will answer our prayer. James says if you pray and you are doubting then you are like the wave of the sea and you will receive nothing that you ask for. So we need to pray in faith believing that God will listen and that God will answer. And you and I know he doesn't always answer exactly the way we pray. But he does answer and we can have the assurance that he has heard our prayer. And when we pray and we base it on his word we want to be careful not to go outside and start presuming to just base our prayer on a wish. Now we can tell him what we wish for. We can tell him what we want and ask him to give us a promise on which to base that. But if you don't have God's word, if you don't have a promise from him to claim then your prayer is going to be so weak and foundationless and wishy-washy it is not going to hold up the challenge.

And so you can tell God what you want. You can tell him what you really wish. Ask him to give you a promise. When you are in his word the promise comes up off the page. You claim it and say God is this a promise you are giving me for my child? Are you giving this promise to me for my job or for my church? And when you feel affirmed in your heart this is a promise you can claim then you just pray it back to God and you hold him to his word.

But be careful not to go outside of that. I think prayer that goes past faith is presumptive. It's not persistent anymore. And so when God left Abraham quit. He no longer had the encouragement from God. There was no longer that quickening in his heart. No longer had a word on which to base his prayer. And so he went back home. And prayer stops with the assurance that God is heard and prayer stops with anticipation that God will answer.

And I want you to look at his anticipation. Well first of all let me quote Habakkuk. Habakkuk is a fabulous book by the way.

Wonderful prayer. Habakkuk starts out praying for his nation. And his nation is wicked and so he is saying God when are you going to judge this wicked nation? So God says alright Habakkuk I am going to tell you what I am going to do. I am going to send in the Assyrians and the Babylonians. They are going to take everybody captive. They are going to wipe out Jerusalem and Habakkuk says whoa wait a minute.

I wanted you to do something but not that. And then Habakkuk says in chapter 2 he says I will stand at my watch and I will station myself on the ramparts and I will look to see what he will say to me. And he stopped his prayer but with anticipation that God would answer him. And so Abraham in chapter 19 turn over verse 27 this is after the angels had walked through Sodom and this is after Lot had gone to his sons in law and had gone to his friends and all that. And he couldn't talk anybody into leaving and he hesitated and the angels dragged Lot and his wife and his daughters out of the city. His wife looked back and she turned into a pillar of salt and she came under God's judgment and then the angels dragged Lot and his two daughters far enough away they didn't come under judgment. This is that morning after when all that happened to Sodom.

Verse 27 early that morning Abraham got up and he returned to the place where he had stood before the Lord. And he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah toward all the land of the plain. Do you see his anticipation? He is watching. He is looking.

How is God going to answer my prayer? And he saw dense smoke rising from the land like smoke from a furnace. And then he didn't know this I don't think at the moment. Verse 29 so when God destroyed the cities of the plain God remembered Abraham. One man who stood in the gap for his family and God brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived. He couldn't spare Sodom because there were not ten righteous but he spared Lot.

He understood the bottom line prayer that Abraham was praying and for Abraham's sake he saved Lot and his family. Who would be saved from judgment if you would pray? Could it be somebody in your family? Could it be somebody in your neighborhood?

Somebody in your office? Could it be you and I could stand in the gap for our entire nation? And where does effective intercessory prayer start? It starts with your walk and it starts with his word. As you discover what is on the mind of God and in the heart of God and that his ears are open to your cry and he is going to come down and involve himself in what you are praying about. And prayer stays in God's presence and approaches a living person who cares desperately about the things you care about. Listening to your prayer and prayer speaks responsibly back and forth respectfully repeatedly and then prayer knows when to stop. That we stop with that assurance that he has heard and an anticipation that he is going to answer.

And so this is my challenge to you. As you embrace the magnificent obsession would you lift everything up in prayer? Especially the lost who are coming under judgment and especially the church that also may come under judgment because the Bible says judgment begins with the house of God. So would you pray? Would you pray? Would you pray effective intercessory prayer for those who are lost and for the church? Would you pray with me please? And Father just in the quietness of this moment we want to thank you for this passage and we want to thank you for speaking through it to us and just the challenge to each of us to pray for a lost world that is dying and going to hell.

And in that world are some of our own loved ones and friends, family members, neighbors, co-workers. Oh God would you impart the burden on your heart to our hearts? Break our hearts for the lost we pray. And so we ask now that you would come down. We have been walking with you Lord and we have been in your words and we want to just stay in your presence now.

And approach you as a living person. You are in our midst now. Bending down your ear to hear what we have to say. And so Lord we just want to speak to you now. We want to pray collectively, corporately, as a body and we ask that you would hear our prayer as we offer it to you. Amen.

Now here's Anne with this final word. Praise God! Our entrance into His presence is not based on our own worthiness but on the worthiness of Jesus Christ. When we enter God's presence in Jesus' name, we are as accepted by God as Jesus is because God counts us as His own dear children. For a child there's no place quite so safe and secure as within the Father's arms. Jesus invites you and me in His name to come into His Father's presence through prayer, crawl up into His lap by faith, put our head on His shoulder of strength, feel His loving arms of protection around us, call Him Abba, Daddy, and pour out our hearts to Him. You've been listening to a message by Anne Graham Lotz in her series from the Life of Abraham. Go to AnneGrahamLotz.org to learn even more how you can make prayer and the study of God's Word part of your everyday life. Then join us again next week for Living in the Light.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-05 16:36:09 / 2023-11-05 16:46:11 / 10

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