Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Prevailing prayer

3:10 p.m. Today's project was to lead my ladies' Bible study group through Session Five of Anne Graham Lotz' The Magnificent Obsession. I was blessed to have Steve's caregiver arrive on time so I could giver her instructions and leave for church with peace of mind.

The scripture passage we studied was Genesis 18:1-19:29, where the LORD--in a theophany, a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus-- and two angels appear to Abraham to tell him that he and Sarah would have a son born in the next year, despite their very senior citizen status. After the meal Abraham and Sarah prepared for their guests, the two angels left to go towards Sodom and Gomorrah. But God remained to talk with Abraham, revealing to him His plan to destroy the two wicked cities.

This reminds me of the Transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain, in Matthew 17 and Mark 9, with Moses and Elijah speaking with Him. Peter, James and John were present as witnesses. Seeing Jesus in his heavenly glory terrified the disciples, and Peter felt it necessary to propose setting up tabernacles for Jesus and the two prophets! Then Mark 9:7 and 8 say,

And a cloud came and overshadowed them; and a voice came out of the cloud saying, "This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!" Suddenly, when they had looked around, they saw no one any more, but Jesus with themselves.

Matthew 17:8 says,

They saw no one but Jesus only.

Jesus only! After His holy angels in Genesis, and His anointed prophets Moses and Elijah, are gone from view, the believers saw "Jesus only."

And it is ultimately the same with us. No human proposals of philosophy or interpretation, not even the most powerfully used Old Testament lawgiver and prophet, are our source of salvation. It is Jesus only!

Many times unbelievers will speak of Jesus in the same way the think of Moses, or Abraham, or even more tragically, Mohammed or Buddha--a great teacher, a great moral leader. But not one of them was sinless, God in the flesh, whose righteous blood was shed on the cross for the salvation of all of mankind. That includes the sin of those who lived before Jesus walked the earth, and all of the billions who have followed. Jesus is "the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world" (Revelation 13:8). Salvation was always God's plan, His answer to the sin of all mankind.

If we want power in prayer, and to prevail in prayer with God as Abraham did when he got God to commit to not destroying Sodom if 10 righteous people could be found there (Genesis 18:32), we must come to the Father in the name of the Son, Jesus Christ. And only when we have been born again, led by the Holy Spirit to trust in Jesus Christ's sacrifice on the cross for our salvation, do we have the privilege of doing so! Romans 8:14-16a declares:

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father." The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.

As a child goes to a parent with any and all requests, from a new trike to a car for graduation, now we have the privilege of going to God the Father in the name of Jesus Christ! As Anne Graham Lotz reminded us, God is able to work in the huge issues, like the salvation of souls worldwide. He also has created every detail of the tiniest things on earth--atoms and molecules. So no request is too small--God knows our hearts anyway!

Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed, but Lot and his daughters were saved. That's prevailing prayer!

As James 1:6-7 says of approaching God in prayer,

Let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.

Abraham did not know whether 10 righteous people were going to be found in Sodom; he just trusted God to do right. and so can we!

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