Ever wondered if God really answers prayer? As I said yesterday, the section of Genesis 18 v 16 – 33 is often taken as a blueprint for intercessory prayer. Abraham makes a plea that God will save the city of Sodom if there are enough righteous people in it. Yet the city was destroyed. God could not answer that prayer with a positive outcome.
Lot might have been one up on the rest of the bunch, but I’m not sure even he would have truly qualified as ‘righteous’. So why did he get saved? Abraham never even asked for Lot’s family to be rescued, so how could that be an answer to his prayer? The clue is in Genesis 19 v 29 – “So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived.”
God knew that Abraham’s concern was not with the whole city, but the safety of one particular family, so even though the conditions were not met, God responded to Abraham’s heart.
That made me think about the way we pray. Last night we had a special service focusing on praying for the suffering church. A church member who has a particular interest in this shared some of the facts, figures and stories, then we broke up into small groups to pray. Without the information, I would have been praying just words; with the information it was easier to really mean it. So it shows how important the work is of those organisations like Open Doors is, in informing us of the needs and areas to pray into.
However, what really struck home for me, was the comment that if it was our son, daughter, brother, sister, parent who was facing such unspeakable treatment, we would move heaven and earth to bring help. It wouldn’t be one polite prayer on a Sunday evening! Then how our hearts would yearn! Then how we would cry out to God!
And I think that it’s when our hearts are in sync with God’s heart, that he hears the cry of our heart, not the words on our lips, and our prayers are answered.