‘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? …The Lord said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”’ – Genesis 18: 24, 26
If you could ask God for anything, what would it be?
So often our prayers are ‘Me-Focused’– help ME at work or help ME through a relational problem. It’s MY needs, MY hurts, MY wants. Don’t get me wrong, this is an important part of prayer. Prayer is giving these things to God and asking Him to work in our lives. But, if that’s all there is, then we’re missing out on a huge part of prayer.
Praying on behalf of someone else, someone we may or may not know, or never meet, is called intercessory prayer. Some churches have intercessory prayer ministries, praying on behalf of people both inside and outside their church community – it may be for an individual, an upcoming event, or a specific people group. This kind of prayer is incredibly important for any church or ministry to stay connected to God and to express the love of God for others. The problem, however, is that too often our prayer ministries are more concerned with keeping sick believers out of heaven than keeping unbelievers out of hell.
Abraham wasn’t afraid to bring bold asks before God. Six times Abraham asked God for mercy on behalf of a huge city earmarked for destruction, and God answered – if only fifty righteous people could be found. Ultimately, the city wasn’t saved, but don’t miss this key point: God responded to Abraham’s bold prayer on behalf of people that Abraham likely didn’t know and had never met.
Turn on the news. Pick up a paper. What bold asks could you pray for in your community, city, or nation? You may not know all the names or individual stories, but you can boldly ask the One who does. Because one of the most selfless prayers is asking God for His mercy and blessing in the lives of others. The question is – will you?