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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Lord, Teach Us To Pray! Part 138

Prayers of the Old Testament
The Prayer of Abraham continued...

It also took boldness on the part of Abraham to approach God, to come near to Him, and speak to Him. No, nothing in life is as simple as it first appears. Within Abraham’s coming near to the Lord, and his speaking to him, we see an amalgam of virtues, all playing off each other, all intertwined and interconnected, like a beautiful symphony of the soul.

You can’t fake Abraham’s heart. You can’t fake humbling oneself, while sprinkling one’s heart from an evil conscience, while coming near to the Lord, while maintaining the requisite reverence.

There are just too many aspects one must be aware of for this to have been anything other than a truly righteous man, who was truly humble, who truly knew God, and who truly revered Him.

There is an unbridgeable gap between pretending to be, and actually being.

Today many Christians are playing the pretend game wherein they affix a date in their mind as to when they believe Jesus will come, and try their hardest to be good people until that date arrives. Every few months the date gets moved up, and people once more try to hold their breaths, and be on their best behavior, hoping Jesus finds them as righteous as humanly possible.

And here is where we trip up. We try to be as righteous as humanly possible, when to God our righteousness is as filthy rags.

When we humble ourselves, when we see ourselves as dust and ashes, and acknowledge that it is only by the righteousness of Christ, and His shed blood that God sees us as righteous, then we will strive not to live up to some denominational notion of righteousness, but simply to be more like Jesus, the embodiment of righteousness.

Abraham did not have boldness because of who he was, but because of who God was. The only reason Abraham had the confidence he had, was because his heart did not condemn him, and because his heart did not condemn him, he knew he could approach God.

1 John 3:21-22, “Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.”

The instant your heart condemns you of something, you lose all confidence in regards to approaching God. Whether it’s an argument you had with your spouse that was not resolved, a word of gossip you passed on to fellow brothers or sisters, it doesn’t have to be some big, overwhelming thing…just enough for your heart to condemn you.

When this occurs, the first and only course of action is repentance. Repent of the gossip, repent of the argument, set it right, and then come before the Lord, and you will see that once repentance has taken place, you can approach Him with confidence.

Hebrews 4:16, “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

If our hearts condemn us, then we have no confidence toward God, and if we have no confidence toward God, we cannot come boldly to the throne of grace. Because we cannot come boldly to the throne of grace, we can neither obtain mercy, nor find grace to help in time of need. And it all starts with lack of confidence due to something our heart condemns us of.

One of the more obvious characteristics of Abraham and his prayer is his persistence. Just because it’s obvious however, it does not mean it ought not to be mentioned or discussed.

If we could use only one word to describe Abraham, what is the one word that would come to mind?

Humble, obedient, faithful, are all words that would readily spring up when considering Abraham, but so would persistent.

In his prayer of intercession for Sodom and the righteous therein, Abraham was nothing if not persistent.

Abraham begins his intercession in regards to Sodom at fifty righteous souls. Perhaps it was due to all that he had heard concerning Sodom, or his awareness of how few righteous there were, but no longer feeling comfortable with the number fifty, Abraham comes before God again and lowers the bar to forty-five.

This goes on for some time, from forty-five, to forty, to thirty, to twenty, and eventually to ten righteous souls in the whole of Sodom.

Abraham essentially bargained with God, for the lives of the citizenry of Sodom, and if there had been ten righteous souls in Sodom, as per His word, God would have spared it.

From reading the word of God, we know that ten was still too high a number, but the fact that Abraham interceded on their behalf, gave Sodom a chance to be saved, it gave them one final opportunity to be spared.

The pessimist in us might be quick to roll our eyes, and think to ourselves, ‘his prayer and intercession didn’t do anyone any good anyway since Sodom still got destroyed,’ but what we cannot fail to acknowledge is that destruction came because sin was so rampant that not even ten righteous were found within the walls of the city, and not because Abraham somehow failed in his intercession.

Sometimes we will intercede on behalf of an individual, or even a nation and God’s judgment still comes. This does not, in any way, mean that our intercession has failed, or that we ought to stop interceding on behalf of those we are interceding for. What it does mean, is that although God afforded the individual or the nation another opportunity for repentance, they rejected it as they had all the previous times God attempted to reach out to them in love.

Our duty is to pray. Our duty is to intercede. Our duty is to be persistent in our petitions for those who are still lost, and God in His sovereign wisdom will do as He must.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

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