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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Lord, Teach Us To Pray! Part 34

Prayers of Intercession continued...

Another worthwhile example of intercession, this time not on behalf of Israel, is that of Abraham. Knowing what we know of Sodom and Gomorrah, it would be difficult to imagine someone interceding for it, standing before the Lord and asking that it be spared. In truth, Abraham interceded for the righteous that were in Sodom and Gomorrah and not for the cities themselves; however, he could just as readily have shrugged his shoulders upon hearing that these two cities would be judged.

The angels of the Lord had come to Abraham, and the Lord saw fit to inform him that Sodom and Gomorrah would soon be judged. Their sin was a grievous one, and God had purposed to go and see whether they had done altogether according to the outcry against them.

Genesis 18:22-25, “Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the Lord. And Abraham came near and said, ‘would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there were fifty righteous within the city; would You also destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous that were in it? Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?’”

Although the angels had turned away from where Abraham stood and went toward Sodom, Abraham remained before the Lord, and he began to intercede. Attempting to stay the wrath of God, Abraham proceeds to present God with a hypothetical situation. ‘Suppose there were fifty righteous within the city; would You also destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous that were in it?’

After God assured him that if there were fifty righteous within the city He would not destroy it, Abraham begins to process all that he had heard concerning Sodom, and concludes that fifty righteous might have been aiming a tad too high.

Genesis 18:27-28, “Then Abraham answered and said, ‘Indeed now, I who am but dust and ashes have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord: ‘suppose there were five less than the fifty righteous; would You destroy all of the city for lack of five?’ And He said, ‘if I find there forty-five, I will not destroy it.’”

By his own admission, no one asked Abraham to intercede, no one compelled him to speak to the Lord, he took it upon himself to make intercession for the righteous of Sodom. Sometimes we intercede for individuals who have not asked us to intercede on their behalf. We come before God with prayers of intercession for those who are lost, those still in darkness, who would not think to ask for prayer, yet we pray for them nevertheless.

We take it upon ourselves, as Abraham did, to speak to God, and make intercession.

Abraham’s dialogue with God continues, until he whittles the hypothetical number of the righteous to ten souls. Within the span of a few verses, Abraham makes intercession to the Lord no less than six times, decreasing his number from fifty, to forty-five, to forty, thirty, twenty and finally ten righteous souls.

Although each time Abraham is apologetic for coming before God with the same issue, he is nevertheless determined to intercede before God in the hope that enough righteous souls might be found so God might not destroy Sodom.

The greatest lesson we can learn from Abraham’s repeated intercessions before God, is that of persistence. Abraham didn’t just intercede once, but came before God repeatedly, passionately, because he loved.

When we love as Christ taught us to love, we will be insistent in our prayers of intercession on behalf of those we are interceding for. It will not be a prayer of custom, as we are wont to do when blessing a meal, it will be a prayer filled with emotion and pathos, one that we bring before the throne of grace as often as we feel the stirring in our hearts to do so.

Love is the principle agent that fuels prayers of intercession. It is because we love the brethren, and even those who are as yet lost that we take the time and make petitions of intercession before God. If we have no love, then we will not intercede, we will not sacrifice of ourselves and of our time to pray on behalf of another, be they stranger or friend.

We fight, and strive, and toil for those we love. We sweat and labor and exert ourselves on behalf of our children and our spouses, and intercession in its purest form is a labor of love.

If we intercede on behalf of those we love and the word of God commands us to love even our enemies, then the list of those we could be interceding for is a long one indeed. If you desire to be an intercessor, there will never be an end to those you could be interceding for. Whether interceding for someone’s healing, someone’s salvation, someone’s comfort through a difficult season in their life, prayers of intercession will never lack for an objective.

God calls His children to be men and women of prayer and the prayers of His people are as sweet smelling incense to Him.

When we come to understand the true power of prayer in our lives, when we come to understand the power of intercession, perhaps we will not be as reticent or complacent when it comes to spending time before God, and worshiping at His feet.

We pray because it is the only way by which we can dialogue with God our Father, and we know that He hears our prayers.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

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