The story is informed of a younger pastor who, in his first pastorate in Philadelphia, was visited by a gaggle from his congregation. Coming into his residence, one of many members informed the minister, “You aren’t a robust preacher. Within the ordinary order of issues, you’ll fail right here. However a little bit group of us have determined to satisfy each Sunday morning to wish for God’s blessing upon you.” In God’s windfall, that little Sunday-morning prayer group grew to 1 thousand folks in quantity. And it was that group and that prayer assembly which underpinned the ministry of J. Wilbur Chapman, one of many nice American preachers across the flip of the 20th century.
The actual fact of the matter is that every of us owes an important debt—far better than we would understand—to those that have prayed for us. J. Wilbur Chapman’s expertise raises sure questions with which God’s folks should reckon. Are we systematically, critically, and committedly concerned in praying for others? Are there individuals who would discover a change of their lives if we stopped praying for them? Are there preachers or missionaries whose ministries could be much less efficient if God’s folks ceased to wish? In brief: Do our prayers have an effect on anyone for God?
Once we consider prayer, it’s useful to differentiate among the many completely different points concerned. Prayer first entails adoration, the worship of God. Subsequent is confession, the acknowledgment of our sin earlier than God. There’s additionally petition, which is requesting that God will meet our private wants. Prayer additionally usually contains thanksgiving, during which the center expresses joyfulness in God and His provision. And lastly is intercession, the ministry of a soul earlier than God’s throne on one other’s behalf. It’s to this kind of prayer that we are going to flip our consideration.
Every of us owes an important debt—far better than we would understand—to those that have prayed for us.
Whereas Abraham modeled various points of prayer all through his life, his prayer in Genesis 18 serves as an instructive instance of intercession. Previous to this prayer, Genesis 13:13 factors out that “the lads of Sodom had been depraved, nice sinners towards the LORD.” So it’s not a whole shock that simply 5 chapters later there was such an outcry to God towards Sodom and Gomorrah that He decided to train His fast judgment towards them (Gen. 18:16–21). When the Lord shared this plan with Abraham, he made an enchantment to God’s nature and character, praying on behalf of the supposed righteous remnant, pleading that the Lord would do what is correct (18:23–25). His intercession reveals 4 ideas that we’d do properly to look at and apply.
1) Intercession Rests upon a Relationship with God
The primary precept of intercession is that it rests upon a relationship with God. Abraham is just capable of intercede as a result of earlier, he had believed God, and his religion had been credited to him as righteousness (Gen. 15:6). Solely after we are declared righteous in God’s sight can we be actually free to successfully pray for others. Abraham’s instance invitations us, then, to self-reflection: Am I in a proper relationship with God? Am I within the place, by God’s grace, to be an intercessor?
We ought to be cautious, although, to not suppose we are able to attain that place on our personal. It’s solely by divine grace that we’re capable of train this type of ministry within the first place. God took the initiative with Abraham, selecting him and appointing him for His functions (Gen. 18:19). Abraham was not looking for God—however God sought him, “that he might command his kids … to maintain the best way of the LORD” (18:19). It was Abraham’s grasp of grace and obedience to God’s will that made him a helpful servant in His palms. These of us who could be intercessors should pay cautious consideration to our standing earlier than God. Our lives should be marked by proper relationship to our Creator, established on grace and flowing with obedience.
2) Intercession Is Primarily based upon God’s Willingness to Be Approached
Even a proper standing earlier than God, nevertheless, would quantity to little (by means of intercession, that’s) if God Himself wasn’t prepared to listen to us. However fortunately, He isn’t solely prepared however keen to welcome us into His presence and take heed to our pleas.
Abraham’s expertise reminds us that God needs us to method Him in prayer and can stir us up to take action. In what we might name an inside divine dialogue, God had requested Himself, “Shall I disguise from Abraham what I’m about to do, seeing that Abraham shall certainly turn out to be an important and mighty nation, and all of the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?” (Gen. 18:17–18). He then clued Abraham into His plan of judgment on Sodom (18:20–21). He didn’t must share His plans—however He selected to take action with the purpose of stirring Abraham as much as intercede on Sodom’s behalf.
That God entails us in His work is an astonishing matter. In some mysterious approach, God makes intercessory prayer a essential wheel within the equipment of His windfall. We’d think about intercession as a security deposit field with two locks: each the field’s proprietor and the financial institution should use their keys to open it. In the same approach, God has additionally chosen to make use of our prayers within the unfolding of His functions: heaven holds the important thing by which selections governing earthly affairs are made, and we maintain the important thing by which these selections are carried out. God’s will and our prayers work in tandem. We may be assured, then, that our prayers matter. Certainly, they rely for eternity.
So, what about us? Will we share Abraham’s burden for misplaced folks perishing of their sin? Will we take God at His phrase on the subject of the realities of a future, simply judgment (Matt. 25:32–33)? And do these truths spur us on to intercede on their behalf?
In some mysterious approach, God makes intercessory prayer a essential wheel within the equipment of His windfall.
In what follows, it seems that Abraham merely haggled with God over numbers (Gen. 18:24–32). However one thing way more significant was going down. Abraham was not bargaining with God however discovering His willingness to indicate mercy. He was exploring the extent to which God desired to be approached and to which He desired to reply. Certainly, prayer is just not overcoming some reluctance in God, forcing Him to do one thing that He doesn’t need to do. Prayer is as a substitute implementing God’s selections. It’s a part of seeing His will completed “on earth as it’s in heaven”
3) Intercession Should Be Made within the Gentle of God’s Character
But even when we stand in proper relationship with God and are welcomed into His presence, it will be a mistake to ask God to intercede in a approach that disagreed with His character. As a substitute, our prayers should be made by an enchantment to what He has revealed about Himself.
Abraham’s intercession for Sodom highlights a number of of God’s attributes, starting with His holiness. God had described Sodom’s sin as “very grave” (Gen. 18:20). Certainly, sin is all the time a grave matter to God, and He can’t be true to Himself until He punishes it. Understanding this, Abraham prayed in mild of God’s holiness: “I’ve undertaken to talk to the Lord,” Abraham mentioned, “I who am however mud and ashes” (Gen. 18:27). Till we see God as He actually is, we’ll by no means see ourselves as we actually are. As soon as we see the world by the lens of God’s holiness, nevertheless, it should produce in us reverence and godly concern. We won’t ask God to bless, prosper, or assist something that’s opposite to His holy nature. As a substitute, His holiness will practice us to do His will and pray in accordance with it.
Till we see God as He actually is, we’ll by no means see ourselves as we actually are.
Abraham appealed not solely to God’s holiness but additionally to His justice and mercy. God’s justice is His holy will in operation. Abraham asks in verse 25, “Shall not the Decide of all of the earth do what’s simply?” The reply to this rhetorical query is just not doubtful: God, the one who “judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23), is dedicated to righteousness. The Decide will do what is correct. And but He’s additionally merciful. God’s mercy is His love because it encounters particular human sin. In mercy, God pardons folks’s transgressions. As a result of God is holy, simply, and merciful, we are able to intercede with confidence for our unbelieving relations and colleagues, figuring out it’s His character that spurs us on to prayerfulness.
4) Intercession Requires Persistence and Group
Lastly, although, if we’re to make intercession an everyday a part of our lives, it should take persistence and group. Discover that Abraham doesn’t cease after his first and least particular query, “Will you certainly sweep away the righteous with the depraved?” (Gen. 18:23), nor does he cease after asking about fifty righteous folks, forty-five, forty, and so forth. He persists with a logical sequence of questions.
Nobody—together with Abraham, we would safely assume—merely stumbles right into a fruitful prayer life. Its cultivation takes effort and time. It’s onerous work. Many people would do properly to begin small, maybe setting apart ten or twenty minutes within the day for centered prayer. S. D. Gordon famously remarked, “You are able to do extra than pray, after you’ve prayed. However you’ll be able to not do greater than pray till you’ve prayed.” On this distinction lies the distinction between an increase and a fall amongst God’s folks; it’s the distinction between God’s glory and man’s disgrace.
Nobody—together with Abraham, we would safely assume—merely stumbles right into a fruitful prayer life. Its cultivation takes effort and time.
The explanations for prayerlessness abound: busy schedules, different priorities, lack of want, and many others. However the invitation from our Creator to fruitful, efficient prayer stands. Armed with the ideas of intercession, will we observe it? Will we be discovered within the faculty of prayer? It issues greater than our sporting occasions, to-do lists, and even Christian fellowship. Once we pray, we fellowship with the everlasting God. We get to know Him. And the inverse can be true: no prayer, no divine fellowship. Could we then be a folks marked by this ministry of intercession.
This text was tailored from the sermon “The Rules and Apply of Intercession” by Alistair Begg.