God Shows Us the Way to Pray
Old Testament Encounters with Christ
Part 10: God Shows Us the Way to Pray
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - Jan. 25, 2012
*What would you do if the Lord came to lunch? -- That’s the question we answered last week in the first part of Genesis 18. The chapter opened with 3 men making an unexpected visit to Abraham’s tent. And verse 1 tells us that this was a miraculous visit, because one of these men was Jehovah God, the pre-incarnate Christ, Jesus our Savior and Lord.
*The Lord came to see Abraham, and vs. 1-15 showed us what to do when the Lord comes to us:
 First, give your hospitality to the Lord. -- When Abraham set that meal before his guests, he gave the Lord the best he possibly could, as soon as he possibly could.
 Also give the Lord your hope. -- Trust the Lord even for the impossible, because nothing is too hard for the Lord!
 And give God your honesty. -- Don’t try to deceive the Lord like Sarah did in vs. 15. You can’t fool God!
*This week we will see that the Lord had another special purpose for this visit. He wanted Abraham to know something terrible that was about to happen. And we can read about it in vs. 16-33.
*In these verses, God shows us 3 steps in the process of prayer:
-And God’s response.
1. God shows us how to pray: First, God makes a revelation to us.
*God reveals Himself to us. Any true conversation we have with the Lord must be based on the revelation of God. God always takes the first step.
*In this story God revealed Himself, not just for Abraham, but for all who will believe. And in these verses we see 4 ways the Lord reveals Himself to us.
 First, the Lord reveals Himself to us by His presence. We may not see Him, but the Lord comes to us, as surely as He came to Abraham.
*This look at Christ’s Old Testament appearances is totally relevant to us today. Christ came to Abraham, and this reminds us of the other times our Lord came for us:
-Jesus came to die on the cross for our sins and rise again from the dead.
-The Holy Spirit came at Pentecost.
-Christ’s Spirit comes into our hearts when we receive Jesus as Savior and Lord.
*The Lord sitting down to lunch with Abraham reminds us of what Jesus said in Rev 3:20: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”
*We can also rejoice because we know that the Lord is coming again! -- But until that day, the Lord also comes to encourage us when odds are against us.
*Remember the Apostle Paul in arrested in Jerusalem. Acts 23:10-11 tells us:
10. And when there arose a great dissension, the commander, fearing lest Paul might be pulled to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him by force from among them, and bring him into the barracks.
11. But the following night the Lord stood by him and said, "Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.''
*Later on, when Paul was in Rome on trial for his life, he said:
16. At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them.
17. But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. And I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. (2 Tim 4:16-17).
*The Lord stood by Paul, and He will surely stand by you.
-He reveals Himself to us by His presence.
 But the Lord also reveals Himself through His provision.
*God reveals Himself by providing for His people. He had already provided so much for Abraham & Sarah.
-And now, He was going to provide them a son.
-But much more than a son. God was going to provide them a Savior.
*So in Rom 8:31, Paul asked these great questions: “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Then Paul gave the answer in vs. 32: “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”
*God reveals Himself by providing for His people, so in Phil 4:19, Paul said: “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
*On your darkest day, God will provide the strength and encouragement you need.
-Most of the time it is through His Word.
-Many times it is through His followers.
-But sometimes God even sends His angels like the ones with Him here in Genesis 18.
*Mike Barnett used to be the pastor of Oak Grove Baptist Church, just off Hwy 34 in west Ouachita Parish. Back in the 90’s, Mike’s dad took an early retirement from one of the big oil companies. Then he and Mike’s mom went out west to help start new churches for the North American Mission Board.
*Sadly, Mike’s mom came down with cancer in the next couple of years, and she died in 1997. But Mike later told me how the Lord helped his mom and dad through one of their toughest days.
*Mike’s dad told him that it was a real bad time, the lowest point during his mother’s cancer. She was in a dreary depression, and didn’t feel like eating or even getting out of bed.
*Their TV was broken and Mike’s dad decided he would get it fixed, so that she would have something to take her mind off her sickness. He called a repair shop, and sometime later a man arrived at their house. The repairman walked into the room with his toolkit, pulled the TV out from the wall and sat behind it. Mike’s dad couldn’t see what he was doing.
*After about 5 minutes the man stuck his head out from behind the TV and said, “Sir, your heart is troubled, isn’t it?” -- Mike’s dad told him about the struggle his wife was having with cancer.
*Then the repairman went to a chair in the living room and started talking to Mike’s dad about the love of God. He quoted Scripture and spoke with such power that Mr. Barnett was greatly encouraged, -- so much so that he asked the man to wait a minute while he went into the bedroom to get his wife.
*Mike’s mom came out and lay on the couch while the man talked for 30 to 45 minutes about the love of God. When the man finished, he said, “Your TV is fixed, and then he walked out the door.”
*Mike’s dad never saw the man again; and he never got a bill for the work. They believed that God might have sent an angel to them that day. And that certainly could be true, because God reveals Himself to us by His provision.
 But the Lord also reveals Himself through His promises.
*God promises the impossible to us, like He did to Abraham and Sarah in vs. 10, where the Lord said, "I will certainly return to you according to the time of life, and behold, Sarah your wife shall have a son.''
*Yes, Sarah was 89 years old, and Abraham was 99, but in v. 14: “Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.”
-God reveals Himself to us by His presence, His provision, His promises.
 And by His plan.
*God reveals His plans to His people.
-He has a plan for salvation.
-He has a plan for the end of time.
-And God has a plan for your life.
*If you are waiting on the Lord right now, don’t give up. He will show you His plan for your life at just the right time in just the right way.
*In the Scripture tonight, God revealed His plan for the destruction of Sodom.
16. Then the men rose from there and looked toward Sodom, and Abraham went with them to send them on the way.
17. And the Lord said, "Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing,
18. since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?
19. For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice, that the Lord may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.''
20. And the Lord said, "Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave,
21. I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry against it that has come to Me; and if not, I will know.''
*Why did God destroy Sodom? -- Genesis 13:13 tells us that “the men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked and sinful against the Lord.” And we know about the sexual sin from next chapter, when the two angels tried to rescue Lot and his family.
*But there was more, and God let us in on that in Ezekiel 16:49-50, where He told the people of Jerusalem:
49. "Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.
50. And they were haughty and committed abomination before Me; therefore I took them away as I saw fit.”
*Sodom and Gomorrah were in full-throttle, open rebellion against God.
-And they crossed the line that led God to plan their destruction.
-But God reveals Himself to His people by His presence, His provision, His promises and His plan.
2. God shows us how to pray: The process always starts with God’s revelation to us. Then we make our requests to God.
*This is what Abraham did starting in vs. 22, and there are 4 things to notice about Abraham’s requests.
 First, Abraham was bold in his faith. -- That’s in vs. 22-25:
22. Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the Lord.
23. And Abraham came near and said, "Would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked?
24. Suppose there were fifty righteous within the city; would You also destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous that were in it?
25. Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?''
*That was a bold request! -- Face to face with God, yet almost arguing with the Lord, almost accusing God. Abraham boldly made his case before the Lord.
*Who was the greatest prayer warrior of all time? -- George Mueller certainly has to be one of the greatest prayer warriors of all time. He kept a prayer journal over his long life that recorded 50,000 answers to prayer. -- Amazing!
*During Mueller’s lifetime, he received over $7,000,000 to support his children’s homes, and all of it came through prayer.
*Once Mueller was on a ship headed to Quebec, and they were delayed by a terrible fog. The captain later reported: “I had been on the bridge for 24 hours and never left it. And George Mueller came to me and said, ‘Captain, I have come to tell you that you must be in Quebec on Saturday afternoon.’
*‘It is impossible.’ I said. George Mueller replied, ‘Then very well, if your ship cannot take me, God will find some other way. I have never broken an engagement in 57 years; let us go down into the chart room and pray.’
*I looked at that man of God and thought to myself, ‘What lunatic asylum can that man have come from, for I never heard of such a thing as this?’
*Mr. Mueller, I said, ‘Do you know how dense this fog is?’ -- ‘No,’ he replied, ‘My eye is not on the density of the fog, but on the living God who controls every circumstance of my life.’
*He knelt down and he prayed one of the simplest prayers. When he had finished I was going to pray, but he put his hand on my shoulder and told me not to pray. ‘As you do not believe He will answer. And as I believe He has. There is no need whatever for you to pray about it.’
*I looked at him and George Mueller said, ‘Captain, I have known the Lord for 57 years and there has never been a single day when I have failed to get an audience with the King. Get up, Captain and open the door and you will find the fog has gone.’
*I got up and the fog indeed was gone and on that Saturday afternoon George Mueller kept his promised engagement.” (1)
*How did George Mueller learn to pray? -- Part of the lesson came from right here in Genesis 18. John Phillips reports that this chapter taught Mueller one of the most important secrets of prayer. It taught him to use argument in pleading his case before God.
*He would remind the Lord that the orphan boys and girls entrusted to his care were not his orphans, they were God’s.
-Had He not declared Himself to be the Father of the fatherless?
-It was God’s work, not Mueller’s.
-He was just the instrument.
*If it were God’s work, was not God bound to take care of it?
-Could God suffer His glory to be diminished?
-Was not a half-believing church looking on and a wholly unbelieving world?
*Thus George Mueller prayed and thus he received truly astonishing answers from God. (2)
*George Mueller was like Abraham: Bold in his faith.
 But Abraham was also humble.
*Listen to Abraham in vs. 27: “Then Abraham answered and said, ‘Indeed now, I who am but dust and ashes have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord.’”
-Now in vs. 30: “Then he said, ‘Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Suppose thirty should be found there?’ And He said, ‘I will not do it if I find thirty there.’”
-Now in vs. 32: “Then he said, ‘Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak but once more: Suppose ten should be found there?’ And He said, ‘I will not destroy it for the sake of ten.’”
*Abraham was humble in his prayers.
 And he was caring.
-Abraham cared about other people.
-He especially cared for the innocent people who might be in those cities.
-He prayed for other people.
*Sometimes our prayers sound a little like this: “Lord please bless me and me and me and me and me.” -- But God wants us to care about other people!
-Abraham was caring in his prayers.
 And he was persistent!
-Abraham kept on praying! -- In vs. 24: “Suppose there were fifty righteous within the city; would You also destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous that were in it?”
-Then, suppose 45, 40, 30, 20, 10?
*Abraham prayed boldly, humbly, compassionately and persistently.
-That’s the way God want us to pray.
*In this story God shows us how to pray: He makes a revelation. We make our requests.
3. Then God always makes the right response.
*What do you notice about the LORD’s response here?
 He was patient with Abraham. -- God did not rebuke Abraham, not once.
 God was most patient with Abraham. -- And God was most gracious in His answers.
*All the way down the line, God answered Abraham’s prayers: 50, 45, 40, 30, 20 and 10. -- Every time, God said “yes.”
*And God won’t always say “yes” to our prayers. But we can be sure that according to His perfect will and wisdom, God will graciously answer us too.
*Let’s go to the Lord in prayer.
-A. T. Pierson Source: Signs of the Times, Copyright (c) Pacific Press, December 3, 1912. (Found in 05302004 email from Sermons.com)
-Paul Lee Tan - Encyclopedia of 7,700 Illustrations. (Rockville, Maryland: Assurance Publishers, 1979) - #1494] (Found in SermonCentral sermon “The Pathway of Faith” by John Hamby - Hebrews 11:1-7)
2. “Exploring Genesis” by John Phillips - p. 156