Some of you may be wondering if the prayers you’re praying for your loved ones are effective. Does God hear you? Will He act when the ones you’re praying for are willingly going their own way? Can your petitions outweigh their defiance? Do your prayers make a difference? This morning I was reminded of how refreshing Abraham and Lot’s story is. Especially as it relates to the effectiveness of our prayers for our wayward loved ones. For those who aren’t even pretending to try to be all that lovable.
When God called Abraham (then Abram) out of his homeland in Genesis 12, he took his wife Sarah and his nephew Lot with him. Lot ended up complicating things a bit, as family members can do at times. Both Abraham and Lot grew into substantial families with increasing amounts of servants and cattle causing fights to break out between the two groups. Abraham realized that the land could no longer sustain both families. The best thing to do was separate.
Graciously, Abraham let Lot choose were he wanted to live and Lot chose what appeared to be the best land for himself. (This is a blog for another day—the blog about how hard it is to give up your rights.) (And how much God blesses it.) Time passed and the city called Sodom, where Lot was living, was attacked and Lot was taken captive. Abraham heard the news, deployed his fighting men and rescued Lot from captivity. (This would be another blog about helping people who don’t deserve it.)
Here’s where we narrow in on the part about how God hears our prayers and the part about how desperately our loved ones need them. Even the ones who don’t want them. Who don’t think they need them. Fast forward to Sodom and Gomorrah becoming so evil that the Lord planned to destroy it. Abraham approached the Lord and asked Him how many righteous people would have to live in Sodom for Him to spare it?
“Will 50 do it?” Abraham asks.
“Yes, I’ll spare it for 50”, the Lord responds.
“What about forty-five righteous?”, he prays.
“I won’t destroy the city if there are 45.”
Abraham’s petition continues to 40, then 30, then 20. Finally he finds the courage to get the number down to 10. If the Lord can find 10 righteous people He’ll spare the city. I have to believe that when Abraham was pleading with the Lord to spare Sodom and Gomorrah, he wasn’t so much begging for the city as much as he was begging for his nephew, Lot. He had one loved one in mind.
The angels of the Lord found Lot sitting in the gates of Sodom, a picture indicative of how Lot’s heart and affections had become firmly set on worldly pleasures and darkness. A sordid incident followed where Lot stepped outside his home and offered his virgin daughters to an aggressive band of men who were trying to break the door down. The Lord’s angels grabbed Lot and whisked him back into the house. They warned him of the impending destruction of the city and told him to get out as fast as he could, and take his family with him.
This is the point in the story where it’s easy to be done with Lot. After all the mercy, the grace, the second chances, the resources Abraham had expended, those angels. Lot hesitates?
Even there the Lord’s compassion meets him—at the very place of his hesitation (Gen 19:16).
The angel grabs Lot’s hand, his wife’s hand and the hands of his daughters—what a stunning, tangible picture of rescue—and brings them out. This is undeserved deliverance at its finest.
As the city burned and the smoke swirled skyward, Abraham watched from the place where he’d prayed to the Lord to spare the city. Abraham must have thought to himself, apparently there were less than 10 righteous people in the city. As he looked out over the plain and took in the sobering sight, we get one of the most telling verses about the effectiveness of praying for our wayward loved ones in all the Bible.
“So it was, when God destroyed the city of the plain, he remembered Abraham and brought Lot out of the middle of the upheaval…” (Gen 19:29).
I was so prepared for the verse to read that in all the upheaval God had remembered Lot. But when Lot was in trouble it wasn’t Lot the Lord remembered; it was Abraham. Abraham had prayed for God to spare the city because He wanted God to spare his nephew. He didn’t stop petitioning at 50, not at 40, not at 20, not even at 10. And when he trembled too much to ask for 1 righteous, maybe even throw out the possibility of there being zero in the city, still the Lord remembered Abraham. Because He’d heard his prayer.
God rescued Lot because He remembered Abraham (Gen 19:29).Click To Tweet God rescued Lot because He remembered Abraham. In other words, Lot was spared because we serve a compassionate God, but also because Abraham dared enough to pray for him. I know it can get discouraging at times but let’s keep praying those we love back into the obedience of Christ. Let’s keep petitioning. I believe the Lord will hear our prayers on behalf of those we love so dearly.
And do that thing He does so well—remember and rescue.