Summary: Intercession for the lost does not guarantee salvation but it opens tremendous doors for those that we intercede for and the Lord is calling us to faithfully pray and follow that up with our testimony of love.
Last week we looked at the foundational parts of having a close encounter with God. (Close Encounters with God) We saw how God wants to meet with us every day and that face to face encounter begins with our welcoming him. Then we worship him. We pour out our hearts to him. And finally we listen to his voice. We saw all this as we looked at Abraham welcoming the Lord and his angels to his home. They had great news – Sarah would have a child. What a great blessing!
This morning we are continuing on in Genesis 18 to see one more crucial part of having a close encounter with God which involves praying God’s will into effect – in other words, intercession.
Let’s read 18:20-33…
DISCOURAGEMENT IN PRAYER
One of the reasons prayer is hard and sometimes discouraging, is that we simply don’t see answers to our prayers. We pray and pray and pray and nothing seems to happen. We know that God desires all to be saved according to the Scripture. So we pray for salvation of our loved ones and nothing seems to happen. We pray for revival in our city, and evil continues to rise. Over and over again, we pray according to what seems to be God’s will, and over and over again our prayers go unanswered. I have over 15 books on spiritual revival in my library and have preached about it, taught about it and prayed for it in Czech, in Poland, here in Mankato and have yet to see revival break out before my eyes. That can be discouraging!
If God so desired, he could force all unbelievers to recognize Him as the Lord and Savior and cause them to repent and give their lives to Him. What if he did that? He could have taken Sodom and Gomorrah and converted both cities and thousands of people would be saved from Hell thanks to Abraham’s prayer. Why doesn’t he do that?
He doesn’t do it because he wants us to love him because we choose to love him. What kind of love is it that is forced. No one wants to be loved out of duty. Imagine the husband telling his wife – “I love you because I just have to – I must – you’re my spouse and the pastor married us – I don’t want to be single all my life – so I will love you because that’s my duty.” Or a man who locks his wife away in a room, even out of kindness good intentions is not a lover but an abuser. So also a parent who never lets his child out of the house for fear that he will get hurt is not an action that will help but hurt him.
God doesn’t lock us into a relationship with him because he wants our eyes to be opened to see that we are lost and we need him, that he loves us and provides for us. He wants us to be crushed by the law and to willingly turn our lives over to Him.
So when we pray for our lost loved ones, God will not force them to that decision. You can pray day and night and it will not force that person to be saved. Then how does prayer fit into this?
THE LORD REVEALS THE NEED
Abraham met with the Lord and the Lord revealed what was about to happen – Abraham overheard the Lord saying that he was ready to judge Sodom and Gomorrah for their sins (vs. 20-21). God clued him in on what was about to happen. Why did God do that? He didn’t have to do that – he could have just gone down and destroyed those wicked cities. He did it because he wanted to allow Abraham the opportunity to intercede. He wants to work through Abraham’s prayer.