Summary: The power of prayer is relationship; it is our relationship of knowing Both God and his plans that guided Abraham’s prayers - the same knowledge ought also to guide ours.
LEARNING TO PRAY: The power of Relationship in prayer
The Lords Prayer starts out with words that are all quite familiar to us. Can you quote the first line for me?
"Pray, then, in this way: ’Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. (Matthew 6:9) In teaching us that single prayer and in fact right there in the start of the prayer, Jesus keys in on one fact that is central to our effectiveness in prayer. It’s the driving factor in our prayers. It is the power of relationship!
When we Call God "Our Father" we are placing a claim of relationship that finds it’s truth and basis in our adoption as sons through faith in Jesus Christ. Our Relationship to God was once full of hatred and Paul says we were at hostility or open war with God.
But our relationship to God was drastically changed to one in which we can not only not be at war with God, we actually have passage through Jesus into his presence. Paul describes the dramatic change in Ephesians 2:11-12 this way, "12 remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ."
This has dramatic effect on our prayers to God. Before we came to Christ we had no access, but now we have access to God founded in our relationship to him.
In Abraham’s life there is an incredible example of intercessory prayer. It’s found in Genesis 18:16-33. Please turn there with me and we’ll discover together 5 Aspects of relationship that if we pay attention to, they will help to fashion our prayers into prayers that are effective and powerful.
< Read Genesis 18:16-33 >.
There are tons of applications and lessons in this very powerful section - tonight I want to start by talking about the relationship of promise.
1. The Relationship of Promise (v18-19)
V 18 God was going to effect (destroy) a nation that Abraham was supposed to be a blessing to. Therefore God obligated himself (?) To inform Abraham of what he was going to do. "All the nations of the earth" included Sodom and Gomorra.
We need to let our relationship of promise guide our prayers. Abraham was promised that God would bless all the nations of the earth through him. That promise is what opened the doorway for the prayer of Abraham to be possible. We also have received promises.
We are promised a relationship as children, so that we know we have access to God. We also have the promise that whenever we pray according to the will of God - our prayers will be answered in the positive. We have the promise that praying in the authority of Jesus will bring answers to our prayers. With all these precious promises and more in relation to prayer, we have confidence that God both hears our prayers and will answer them as we ask.
2. The Relationship of Presence: V 22
Abraham remained standing in God’s presence (this is an attitude of prayer.)
Prayer, by it’s very nature is the relationship of being in God’s presence. And God has likewise promised that we 2 or 3 are gathered together in the name of Christ that He Himself is right there with us; again there is the relationship of presence.
The Bible encourages us to Pray without ceasing. I’m convinced that very practically that means Practice God’s presence at all times. Keep a prayer fullness about you. Let prayer be a constant motivator in your life.
Sometimes we’ll be walking, or driving and a very powerful urge to be in God’s presence overcomes us, and when that happens it may not be what you would consider to be the best time, but that’s the Holy Spirit moving you into prayer - obey the urge and pray.
If you’re driving, pray with your eyes open - but we have that very real relationship of being in God’s presence. Let that Guide your prayers.
3. We have The relationship of knowing God: Vv23, 25,
Abraham knew God, and he based his prayers upon what he knew. He knew that God was both just and righteous and he likewise called upon God to be righteous in his judgment (v23).
Abraham knew that God was the judge of all the earth and he expected God to act in that manner (V 25). Abraham knew that God was God and he was not, he did not dare to tell God his business and as a result of that knowledge he humbled himself before God as he prayed (V27,30,31,32).