Photo by Nenad Stojkovic on flickr

Genesis 18:16–33 ‘Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it?”’(vv23–24)

We have identified intercession as distinct from petition as it seeks to speak on behalf of some external need. Here Abraham intercedes for the righteous, those who serve God with integrity, in Sodom. Witness God’s patience as Abraham politely, but persistently, negotiates on behalf of the lives of the righteous. Our learning is that God is indeed gracious and patient with our intercessions, and we are always learners.

So often we don’t know how to pray for someone, yet God invites us to pray as we can, not as we can’t. There are no barriers between us and God. There are no formal rules governing how we are to carry our concerns to Him. Of course, the story reveals that Sodom is destroyed, although Lot, Abraham’s relative, is saved.

There were self-evidently not even ten righteous people in Sodom, and Abraham’s intercession was unable to save the city. Our intercession is always in heartfelt response to situations and people, seeking to represent their real needs to God. We do not hold the keys to altering God’s mind and actions, yet we can know that our intercessions are heard; we must equally accept that God not only hears but takes them into consideration.

However, God’s purpose, and action, lies far beyond our understanding. Intercession enables us to express our kindness and concern, yet the outcome is always something we must entrust to God. Faith is always expressed through our ultimate trust in God, and never from the measurable fruit of our intercession alone.

Scripture to consider: 2 Chron. 7:11–16; 1 Kings 13:1–10; 2 Cor. 5:1–10; Eph. 6:18–24.

An action to take: Intercession can seem confusing, but through it we bring the needs of others to God in prayer. Who are you holding before God in prayer?

A prayer to make: ‘Lord, I carry the concerns of friends and family, neighbour and friend, and by faith present them to You in my intercessions. Amen.’

Micha Jazz is Director of Resources at Waverley Abbey, UK.