What will it take for us to intercede for our city? How far will things have to go? I’m not talking about a quick “God bless us and those around us.” Certainly God hears and honors our prayers, but from time to time our prayers need to linger. God is inviting us to tarry before the throne.
A story that fascinates me is found in Genesis 18. We see Abraham, this guy whose heart is being shaped more and more in God’s direction, begging God to not destroy a city. The city is infamous for its loose morals and complete lack of ethical lines. No one would have pleaded for Sodom. But Abraham did.
Jesus tells us about a widow who wanted justice more than anything. He said she would beat on the doors of the most unjust judge around asking for justice. After a long while the judge finally gave her what she wanted because she just wouldn’t quit asking. Jesus said how much more will our Father do for us? Then He says “When the Son of Man comes will He find faith on earth?”
There is only one reason Abraham stood in the gap for Sodom. He believed God could do the impossible. He believed. Do we love those in our city enough to intercede for them? Do we actually believe that God can make us as a whole into a place that honors Him?
We put off intercession by saying “We aren’t as bad as that town over there.” That statement may give us some breathing room, but it should make us sick to our stomachs. Our goal has never been to just survive; to just keep our heads above water. We are here to thrive! We put off intercession because it takes time and energy to linger before the throne. We decide instead to accomplish everything we can on our own. We put off intercession because we don’t believe there is any real effect to our prayers.
We don’t believe God acts quickly enough. We put off intercession because we get distracted by all of the good options out there and forget that God wants to do so much more. Are we willing to put down our pride and impatience and get on our knees for our city?
God has put US here for a reason. It is not to gripe, complain, or wish for a job transfer. We have been placed in this place to intercede.
Thankfully ours is not Sodom. That city was ruthless. Ezekiel tells us their sin was a total disregard for life. They obeyed none—zero—of God’s boundaries, pushing aside those who could not help themselves (the poor, the widow, the children) in favor of the rich and powerful.
If we do not intercede our city will be in the shape of Sodom in a few generations. The God-less city operates under many different names but they all look alike. We must not go down that road.
Part of intercession is ‘crying out’ for the sake of those around us. It is completely selfless and entirely Christ-like. This part lingers before the throne for the sake of the lost. This is Abraham’s lengthy conversation with the men on their way to investigate the city. I firmly believe there are men and women who want to cry out to God for the sake of Hope but they do not yet have a voice. A big part of the job of the Church is passing the microphone around the circle of the faithful. We never know how much God wants to say to us until we hear from ALL of the disciples. We must give our people, the faithful in Hope, an opportunity to ‘cry out.’ But this is not the only type of intercession we see in the Word.
Another part of intercession involves making waves in the city. It is the righteous action of the faithful that sounds like the persistent widow in Jesus’ parable. True love refuses to just sit by and allow injustice to reign unchecked. It bucks the norm, resists the cultural tide and pushes back against the given standards of wickedness. It is not haughty or arrogant but persistently seeks the cause of the forgotten and the lost. This the point where we run to the hard things instead of away from them. Intercession will make waves when they are necessary to call the people back to the Lord.
Intercession is specific in dealing with the sin around it. Its great love for the people refuses to allow blanket prayers to suffice. “God help this place” will never be enough. It is not about just speaking the name so it can check the place or person off its prayer list. It will linger in details, not juicy gossip or hot topics, but felt needs and broken hearts. It will often single out one specific barrier and not stop beating on Heaven’s door until that obstacle is removed.
What will be the future of us? I must say if we set our sights any lower than 100% of Hope and Southwest, AR in an active relationship with the Living God we have set them too low. Abraham had no other goal than seeing a people saved.
Clearly he did not want to propagate their evil, but he couldn’t bear the thought of them not meeting the Lord and being saved. I rarely walk through our town without thinking about how different it would be if it were filled with disciples of Christ. Can you imagine an entirely saved Hope? If not, you must try, because that is where our prayers lie. A saved Hope is not our end goal but our first goal. We do not stop there, but begin praying that the transformed city of Hope would then affect its state and then its state this nation and then this nation the world.
We do not know God’s plans, but we do know this: if we, the faithful, lay down our swords and pick up any other avenue of advancement, we lay down the future of the Church here. The only advance we will accept is the Kingdom advance that ends with every corner of the earth in a relationship with Jesus. The Bible tells us that day will be the day when our swords will be beaten into plows and the King will return. But that day is not yet here. This day is not a day of resting but interceding. Let’s get to work!