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Lesson
17

Notable Prayers Found in the Bible
Part 3
Abraham Prays for Mercy:

Genesis 18:23-25

" And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? [24] Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? [25] That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?"

Did Abraham change God’s mind? Of course not. The more likely answer is God changed Abraham’s mind. Abraham knew God is just, and he punishes sin. Abraham may have wondered about God’s mercy. Abraham seemed to be probing God’s mind to see how merciful he really was. He left his conversation with God convinced God was both kind and fair. Our prayers won’t change God’s mind, but they may change ours just as Abraham’s prayer changed his. Prayer helps us better understand the mind of God.


Why did God let Abraham question his justice and intercede for a wicked city? Abraham knew God must punish sin, but he also knew from experience God is merciful to sinners. God knew there were not ten righteous people in the city, but he was merciful enough to allow Abraham to intercede. He was also merciful enough to help Lot, Abraham’s nephew, get out of Sodom before it was destroyed. God does not take pleasure in destroying the wicked, but he must punish sin. He is both just and merciful. We should be thankful that God’s mercy extends to us.
God gave the men of Sodom a fair test. He was not ignorant of the city’s wicked practices, but in his fairness and patience, he gave the people of Sodom one last chance to repent. God is still waiting, giving people the opportunity to turn to him (2 Peter 3:9). Those who are wise will turn to him before his patience wears out.
Was God being unfair to the people of Sodom? Did he really plan to destroy the righteous with the wicked? On the contrary, God’s fairness stood out. (1) He agreed to spare the entire city if only ten righteous people lived there. (2) He showed great mercy toward Lot, apparently the only man in the city who had any kind of relationship with him (and even that was questionable). (3) He showed great patience toward Lot, almost forcing him to leave Sodom before it was destroyed. Remember God’s patience, when you are tempted to think he is unfair. Even the most godly people deserve his justice. We should be glad God doesn’t direct his justice toward us as he did toward Sodom.
God showed Abraham asking for anything is allowed, with the understanding God’s answers come from God’s perspective. They are not always in harmony with our expectations, for only he knows the whole story. Are you missing God’s answer to a prayer because you haven’t considered any possible answers other than the one you expect?
Stephen Prays for His Accusers:

Acts 7:59-60

And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. [60] And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

The penalty for blasphemy, speaking irreverently about God, was death by stoning (Leviticus 24:14). The religious leaders, who were furious, had Stephen stoned without a trial. They did not understand Stephen’s words were true, because they were not seeking the truth. They only wanted support for their own views.

As Stephen died, he spoke words very similar to Jesus’ words on the cross (Luke 23:34). The early believers were glad to suffer as Jesus had suffered because that meant they were counted worthy (Acts 5:41). Stephen was ready to suffer like Jesus, even to the point of asking forgiveness for his murderers. Such a forgiving response comes only from the Holy Spirit. The Spirit can also help us respond as Stephen did with love for our enemies (Luke 6:27). How would you react if someone hurt you because of what you believe

Ephesians 3:14-21

"For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, [15] Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, [16] That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; [17] That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, [18] May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; [19] And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God

[20]"Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, [21] Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen."

The family of God includes all who have believed in him in the past, all who believe in the present, and all who will believe in the future. We are all a family because we have the same Father. He is the source of all creation, the rightful owner of everything. God promises his love and power to his family, the church (Ephes. 3:16-21). If we want to receive God’s blessings, it is important that we stay in contact with other believers in the body of Christ. Those who isolate themselves from God’s family and try to go it alone cut themselves off from God’s power.

God’s love is total, says Paul. It reaches every corner of our experience. It is wide—it covers the breadth of our own experience, and it reaches out to the whole world. God’s love is long—it continues the length of our lives. It is high—it rises to the heights of our celebration and elation. His love is deep—it reaches to the depths of discouragement, despair, and even death. When you feel shut out or isolated, remember that you can never be lost to God’s love. For another prayer about God’s immeasurable and inexhaustible love, see Paul’s words in Romans 8:38-39.


“The fullness of God” is fully expressed only in Christ (Col. 2:9-10). In union with Christ and through his empowering Spirit, we are complete. We have all the fullness of God available to us. But we must appropriate fullness through faith and through prayer as we daily live for him. Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians is also for you. You can ask the Holy Spirit to fill every aspect of your life to the fullest.

This doxology―prayer of praise to God―ends Part One of Ephesians. In the first section, Paul described the timeless role of the church. In Part Two (Ephes. 4-6), he will explain how church members should live in order to bring about the unity God wants. As in most of his books, Paul first lays a doctrinal foundation and then makes practical applications of the truths he has presented.



Paul Prays for the church:

Col. 1:9-12

"For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; [10] That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; [11] Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; [12] Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:"

Paul was exposing a heresy in the Colossian church that was similar to Gnosticism (see the note on § Col. 2:4ff for more information). Gnostics valued the accumulation of knowledge, but Paul pointed out that knowledge in itself is empty. To be worth anything, it must lead to a changed life and right living. His prayer for the Colossians has two dimensions: (1) they might be filled with the knowledge of God’s will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding, and (2) they would bear fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God. Knowledge is not merely to be accumulated; it should give us direction for living. Paul wanted the Colossians to be wise, but he also wanted them to use their knowledge. Knowledge of God is not a secret only a few can discover; it is open to everyone. God wants us to learn more about him, and also to put belief into practice by helping others.


Sometimes we wonder how to pray for missionaries and other leaders we have never met. Paul had never met the Colossians, but he faithfully prayed for them. His prayers teach us how to pray for others, whether we know them or not. We can request they (1) understand God’s will, (2) gain spiritual wisdom, (3) please and honor God, (4) bear good fruit, (5) grow in the knowledge of God, (6) be filled with God’s strength, (7) have great endurance and patience, (8) stay full of Christ’s joy, and (9) give thanks always. All believers have these same basic needs. When you don’t know how to pray for someone, use Paul’s prayer pattern for the Colossians.

Ephes. 1:15-23

" Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, [16] Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; [17] That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: [18] The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, [19] And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,"

[20] "Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, [21] Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: [22] And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, [23] Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all."



Make Request With Joy:

Philip. 1:3-11

"I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, [4] Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, [5] For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; [6] Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: [7] Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace. [8] For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ. [9] And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; [10] That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; [11] Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God."

This is the first of many times Paul used the word joy in his letter. The Philippians were remembered with joy and thanksgiving whenever Paul prayed. By helping Paul, they were helping Christ’s cause. The Philippians were willing to be used by God for whatever he wanted them to do. When others think about you, what comes to their minds? Are you remembered with joy by them? Do your acts of kindness lift up others?


The Philippians first heard the gospel about ten years earlier when Paul and his companions visited Philippi (during Paul’s second missionary journey) and founded the church there.
When Paul said the Philippians were partners in the gospel, he was pointing out their valuable contribution in spreading God’s message. They contributed through their practical help when Paul was in Philippi, and through their financial support when he was in prison. As we help our ministers, missionaries, and evangelists through prayer, hospitality, and financial donations, we become partners with them.

Questions:

1. What did Abraham ask God? Genesis 15:25

2. Did Abraham change God's mind?

3. Why did God let Abraham question his justice and intercede for a wicked city?

4. What is God waiting for people to do? 2 Peter 3:9

5. Was God being unfair to the people of Sodom?

6. Give three reasons why God was fair.

7. What did God Abraham about asking?

8. What did Stephen do and say when he was stoned according to Acts 7:59-60?

9. What is the penalty for blasphemy, according to Leviticus 24:14?

10. How can we come to the point of forgiveness? Luke 6:27

11. How should we come unto the Father? Ephesians 3:14-21

12. Who is included in the family of God?

13. What does God promise to His family?

14. What happens to the members of God's family who try to do things themselves?

15. According to Colossians 2:9-10, where is "The fullness of God" expressed?

16. How should church members live, according to Ephesians 4:6 ?

17. Do not cease to pray for what? Col. 1:9-12

18. What was Paul exposing in the Colossian church?

19. List the two dimension Pauls pray had for the Colossians.

20. List the nine ways to pray for missionaries and other leaders whether we know them or not.

21. What did Paul tell the Ephesians not to do? Ephesians 1:15-23

22. What does Paul say about the Philippians? Philippians 1:3-11

23. How do we help our ministers, missionaries, and evangelists?



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