Devotional | The Power of Intercession
“At break of day, the angels pushed Lot to get going, “Hurry. Get your wife and two daughters out of here before it’s too late and you’re caught in the punishment of the city.” Lot was dragging his feet. The men grabbed Lot’s arm, and the arms of his wife and daughters—God was so merciful to them!—and dragged them to safety outside the city. When they had them outside, Lot was told, “Now run for your life! Don’t look back! Don’t stop anywhere on the plain—run for the hills or you’ll be swept away.” (Genesis 19: 15-17 MSG)
Sodom and Gomorrah: cities synonymous for depravity and worldliness, their inhabitants, case studies in sin. Even those who have never attended sunday school, whose knowledge of scripture ranges from sparse to non-existent, have heard these notorious titles, such are their infamy. They were the Las Vegas, or the Trench Town, or the Lagos of their day!
And Lot didn’t want to leave.
Despite being told of Sodom’s impending doom (it was soon to be enveloped in a volcanic cocktail of fire and brimstone), he “dragged his feet.” Sodom had become home sweet home. He was comfortable there. And no wonder. Ezekiel 16:49 informs us that “Sodom’s sins were pride, gluttony, and laziness, while the poor and needy suffered outside her door” (NLT). Sound familiar?Lot was living a life of luxury: food was plentiful, money lined his pockets and it goes without saying that the city nightlife was a lively and exhilarating experience. After camping in fields with his uncle for so many years, this vibrant lifestyle of consumerism and revelry must have proved a welcome change.
I don’t know about you, but I am often predisposed to be discouraged when praying for my non-Christian friends and family to know Jesus. Their condition seems so very bleak. The fact is, in the first world, we simply don’t need God… or much of anything really. In fact, we have almost outgrown ‘needs’ and now have only our wants to satisfy. Living in such prosperity, enjoying such dissipation, what possible benefit might Westerners attribute to following Jesus, who directs us on a path of righteousness and self-sacrifice? Of course I can list many incentives, but not one that would entice them. They don’t want God. In the light of this, my prayers appear all the more flimsy and ridiculous. I mean, the situation is utterly hopeless... Isn’t it?
Let’s re-read the passage. This time, as you read, I encourage you not to focus upon Lot’s reluctance, but, rather to pay attention to the force and persistence of the angels as they pull him, almost bodily, away from destruction. They push him to leave, grab his arm and drag him from the city. Even the writer of the scriptures can’t help but exclaim, mid sentence, “God was so merciful to them!” As I read this, God spoke these words to me:
“This is the effect of your prayers on your non-Christian friends and family.”
Unlike all the other self-obsessed, money-mad citizens of Sodom, Lot had an uncle. And not just any uncle. Lot’s uncle, Abraham, was a personal friend of God. Previously in Genesis 18, God, accompanied by two angels, had visited Abraham and told him of the future of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham spoke to God (to use technical terminology: he interceded), on behalf of the city and his nephew. What happened? The two angels, sent to bring judgment upon Sodom, rescued Lot. He was saved in spite of himself.
The truth is our friends and family don’t need any more incentive than the supernatural power of intercession to lead them to repentance. It’s hard not to change course when two burly angels are dragging you. God’s mercy isn’t dependant on the condition of our friends/families’ hearts. His mercy is extended to them purely in response to us. And His response isn’t passive or indecisive. God answers with angels, supernatural encounters, miracles (I could go on)!
If you’ve been praying for friends and family who don’t yet know Jesus, don’t be discouraged. Don’t give up. Don’t believe the lie that your prayers have no effect. God plans to answer you with an outpouring of His Holy Spirit. Expect the miraculous, the impossible and the outrageous! God will be faithful to answer your prayers.