AN EXAMPLE OF PRAYER: ABRAHAM
“Pray as you can, not as you can’t.” Dom Chapman”
“Absolutely everything, ranging from small to large, as you make it a part of your believing prayer, gets included as you lay hold of God.” (Matt. 21:22)
“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.” (Philippians 4:6)
“God continued, “The cries of the victims in Sodom and Gomorrah are deafening; the sin of those cities is immense. I’m going down to see for myself, see if what they’re doing is a bad as it sounds. Then I’ll know.”
The men set out for Sodom, but Abraham stood in God’s path, blocking his way.
Abraham confronted him, “Are you serious? Are you planning on getting rid of the good people right along with the bad? What if there are fifty decent people left in the city; will you lump the good with the bad and get rid of the lot? Wouldn’t you spare the city for the sake of those fifty innocents? I can’t believe you’d do that, kill off the good and the bad alike as if there were no difference between them. Doesn’t the Judge of all the Earth judge with justice?”
God said, “If I find fifty decent people in the city of Sodom, I’ll spare the place just for them.”
Abraham came back, “Do I, a mere mortal made from a handful of dirt dare open my mouth again to my Master? What if the fifty fall short by five – would you destroy the city because of those missing five?”
He said, “I won’t destroy it if there are forty-five.”
Abraham spoke up again, “What is you only find forty?”
“Neither will I destroy it if for forty.”
He said, “Master, don’t be irritated with me, but what if only thirty are found?”
“No, I won’t do it if I find thirty.”
He pushed on, “I know I’m trying your patience, Mater, but how about for twenty?”
“I won’t destroy it for twenty.”
He wouldn’t quit, “Don’t get angry, Master – this is the last time. What if you only come up with ten?”
“For the sake of only ten, I won’t destroy the city.”
When God finished talking with Abraham, he left. And Abraham went home.”
When God tells Abraham of His plan to visit Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham immediately intercedes for his family and for the whole city. As long as Abraham asks, God answers. Every time! Will you spare Sodom if 50 righteous are found there?…45?…40?…30?…20?…10? One wonders why he stopped at 10!
Do we, like Abraham, persevere in our prayers?
Do we pray consistently and never give up? (Luke 18:1) or
Do we give up and walk away from God if our prayers are not answered immediately?
AN EXAMPLE OF PRAYER: ELIJAH
“To clasp the hands in prayer is the begining of an uprising against the disorder of the world.” Karl Barth
“Jesus told them a story showing that it was necessary for them to pray consistently and never give up.” (Luke 18:1)
“The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with. Elijah, for instance, human just like us, prayed hard that it wouldn’t rain, and it didn’t – not a drop for three and a half years. Then he prayed that it would rain, and it did. The showers came and everything started growing again.” (James 5:16-18)
This verse explains explicitly that there is no difference between Elijah and ourselves. We are all humans created in God’s image and yet Elijah shows us how to pray until we get the answer.
Read 1 Kings 18
What strikes us as being strange is that he promises rain, and yet has to pray for it. God had spoken very plainly to Elijah, telling him that rain would come. With that answer Elijah then spoke to King Ahab and announced the rain. That settled it, we would say. No need to pray more now, for God had spoken and spoken clearly. However, that is where real praying begins. The Word of the Lord, instead of ending the praying, starts it. What a lesson!
It is so hard for us to learn that God does not just DO things, even when he has spoken His Word and made clear His will about them. He does them by prayer, and in answer to prayer.
F.B. Meyer said, “Though the Bible is crowded with golden promises from cover to cover, they will be inoperative until we turn them into prayer.” That’s what the Word of the Lord is for, and Elijah knew it. So he prayed for the rain which was already promised and which he announced.
And what praying it was! Not the easy kind. Not a quick little prayer to affirm and say amen to the promise. With his head between his knees, he starts to intercede. There was a conflict – as real as when he prayed fire down from heaven and the false prophets were killed. The rain had to come down and same way the fire did. He had to plead God’s promise, not only affirm it. In faith, of course. So he sends his servant to look at the sky. Back and forth he goes – six times. Every time he has the same answer, “There is NOTHING!” That’s where we stop. Most people stop where Elijah began. “It’s always too soon to stop – always!”
Elijah never stopped short of the answer. He knew how to pray through. “Go again,” he said to his servant for the seventh time, while he continued on his knees pleading the same promise for rain.
This time his servant rushes back, “There is a little cloud the size of a man’s hand.” Quickly the heavens are heavy with rain. Elijah prayed up a storm! A huge pouring rain which soaked the dry and thirsty land.
Question: What if he had stopped praying the sixth time?
Now we know the way to pray. Even though the Bible tells us plainly that it is God’s will to pour out His Spirit in these last days, we must persevere obstinately in prayer and never give up until He answers (Acts 2:17).