Our church culture assumes that most Christian training happens in Bible schools, colleges, special courses, and conferences. However, few examples of those models appear in Scripture. God taught His servants through their life experiences. Abraham did not know it but as he talked with God from a vantage point above Sodom and Gomorrah, he was in God’s leadership academy. So, before you endorse Abraham as a tough negotiator, able to secure an agreement from God through intercessory prayer, consider God’s training agenda.
The Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, since Abraham will surely become a great and mighty nation, and in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed? For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.” (Gen. 18:17-19)
Abraham’s conversation with God is an example of intercessory prayer, but it is much more. Abraham secured God’s agreement not to destroy the cities if ten righteous people lived there. The incident teaches us about the effectiveness of intercessory prayer, but also about righteousness and justice. Abraham learned of the inherent fairness of God’s justice. He also witnessed the importance of righteous living—because fewer than ten righteous people dwelt there, God destroyed the evil cities. However, God’s judgment follows opportunities for deliverance—God evacuated Lot’s righteous family before the firestorm.1 Scanning the smoking ruins, Abraham was ready to mentor the nation in righteousness and justice. He had watched the rescue of a remnant from fiery wrath, now he could teach his descendants the importance of godly behavior and the nature of just judgment. A righteous and just nation could, in turn, glorify God and bless the nations of the earth by sharing those truths.
Prayer is part of our training in God’s academy. In prayer, we come to know Him better; we understand more of His will and ways. Then we can better represent Him to others. We learn the lessons best with an open Bible and in an everyday life context, like the historical students of God’s academy. That day, Abraham graduated with an understanding of two things that delight God’s heart—righteousness and justice.2 What does God teach you as to engage in intercessory prayer? (Read more on integrating prayer, worship, and the Bible)
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