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Devotional by Ray Stedman – How prayer works – A daily devotion for June 16

Topic:How prayer works

After he had finished speaking to Abraham, Jehovah left and Abraham returned to his place.
Genesis 18:33

Ray Stedman devotion
Ray Stedman

This verse does not say: “The Lord went on his way when Abraham finished speaking to him.” He says: “When he finished speaking to Abraham”. In other words, Abraham did not end here, but it was God who did it. The verse suggests that God initiated all this conversation with Abraham and guided him during it, and when he had answered in full as God desired, He ended the dialogue and followed His way. So Abraham was not asking God to do something for him; it was God who prayed inside Abraham and put a limit to the conversation.

This is in full agreement with what we have read in the New Testament about prayer. In Romans Paul says: “What we should ask for as it suits, we do not know” (Romans 8: 26b). Do you know what to ask in prayer about yourself or another person? No, you do not know. “But,” he says, “the Spirit himself intercedes for us with unspeakable groans. But he who searches the hearts knows what is the Spirit’s intention, because according to the will of God he intercedes for the saints “(Romans 8: 26c-27).

Obviously, when talking about prayer we find ourselves in what is the edge of the mystery, but in the midst of the mists there are certain things that are clear in this account of Abraham’s prayer: To begin with, prayer makes possible the joy of companionship . Have you ever seen a small child go into his mother’s house and say, “I’m going to help dad!”? He feels very proud to do so, and that’s why he comes out and holds the boards and hits his fingers. The father could have done the job better by himself, but he loves that his son helps him, and the son also loves it. There is a feeling of companionship. This is what prayer does. When the prayer is authentic, God does not act completely by Himself. He loves to meet us and we can help him hit the nails. If we hit our fingers a bit,

Prayer also allows us to appropriate the character of God. Abraham is never more like God than at the time he is praying for Sodom. His prayer did not save the city, and it was not supposed to, but it did cause Abraham to manifest in his own life the mercy and compassion of God. It is for this reason that God asks us to pray, that we can adopt for ourselves something of His own character.



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The third consideration: Prayer concentrates the power of God in an individual place or in a particular person. Although Abraham had never mentioned Lot by name, God remembered Abraham and saved Lot (19:29). I do not know why prayer makes such a difference, but I know he does it. You can plan a program, think about all the details, set up all the committees, get all the things you need, instruct everyone and rehearse it, despite which, in the final presentation you can totally fail. But if you get other people to participate in the prayer ministry about the program, even though the preparation may be similar, the difference in the presentation is that it will manifest with power and full force, and lives will be transformed.

Father, I realize that prayer is not a means that I can use to dictate to You or to call you to do what is my will, but rather it is the means that I use to lend my shoulder to the wheel to which Your shoulder has approached and I can participate in the fellowship with You in Your great enterprise on earth.

  1. Application to life
    Do we see our prayers as the opportunity to require God to follow our agenda? Are we learning that true prayer is our response to God’s call to be partners with Him?

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