A Bible Study and Contemporary Application of Genesis 11-19 by Anne Turner

KEY VERSE: Genesis 19:29 "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."

Chapter Seven Appendix: Becoming an Intercessor

Intercession Introduced through Abraham

When Mandy and I began to pray for Jack, we were babes in Christ. Was that why our prayers for him had no apparent effect? We would sometimes discuss why it seemed these prayers were unheard. We had answers to other prayers and we were growing as Christians. We believed Jesus’ words, “Ask and you will receive.” We were reading the Bible daily and living in obedience to its directives as far as we were aware. Why, then, did our prayers for Jack go unanswered?

Was there something wrong in how we prayed? Were there hidden sins in our lives needing to be uncovered and put away in order for our prayers to have effect? Was there perhaps a further work that the Lord intended to do in us which he could only accomplish by denying this answer over many long years?

Was Jack beyond God’s reach? Does God lose interest in those who have no interest in him? Does he grow weary with the prayers for their souls? Does he not turn his back to the rebellious?

Will God cross and constrain one person’s will in answer to the prayers of another person? Is that not the point of intercessory prayer in cases where we want the one we are praying for to change his ways?

The stories of Lot and of Jack reveal the answers to these questions. We learn that God elects intercessors, trains them to intercede, and then upholds them in the effort for as long as is needed.

Significantly, God did not draw Adam to intercede for Abel, nor Noah to pray for his neighbors who were about to be destroyed, so in Lot’s story, we behold a turn of events. What was so special about Lot? Why was intercessory prayer introduced through Abraham? (By that time, he had been renamed from Abram to Abraham by the Lord.)

Perhaps the answer to these questions is found in the purpose God had for Abraham’s life. Unlike Adam, Noah or any of the earlier patriarchs, Abraham was born to become the Father of the Faith. Though the lineage of Jesus can be traced to Adam, God’s covenant people traced their origin only to Abraham. Israel was instructed to “look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth.” (Is 51:2) Importantly, Abraham was the one through whom intercession was first introduced.

Christ taught, “I am the good shepherd… I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also.” (John 10:14..…16) His plan is to bring them in by way of his inner circle, and he teaches his own to intercede for the weak, the lost and those who stray by giving the example of Abraham and his love for Lot.

It took Abram years before he became an intercessor. In Genesis 15 we found him in the process of achieving that stature, but still a long way off, even after risking his life to rescue Lot. Likewise, Mandy and I in our 20s were not yet intercessors because we were very young in Christ, even though our prayers were earnest and heartfelt.

As we would pray for Jack, we asked that God would break through his blindness and help him to become a believer. These were simple, heartfelt requests, but we were not intercessors in the biblical sense of the word. True, from the time we learned to pray the Lord’s Prayer, “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil,” we began to ask on behalf of ourselves and others that we might escape hard testing and destruction, and that is an intercessory prayer. But the distinction between the prayer novice and the intercessor is not an artificial one.

Someone has said, “An intercessor is one who makes contact with God as opposed to the many who simply dabble in prayer.” Mandy and I were not dabbling in prayer, and intercessory prayers may be prayed by any believer, no matter his age or stature. Still, the role of an intercessor is reached only after years of walking with God.

Loyalty must be tested and proved. It does not exist in a vacuum. And as we are led to know God better, we better understand how to intercede, for true intercession is not praying what we regard as good for another person in our limited human understanding. It is praying “in the Spirit” for what God wants for them.

Nevertheless, the mature Christian will confess he cannot take credit for his acts of obedience and devotion. He will rather testify that the Lord developed in him an obedient and devoted heart, and continually gives him the desire, wisdom and strength to intercede.