The Prayer of Abraham – Prayers of the Bible Part 2
All right, we are going to be in the book of Genesis again this week. Genesis chapter 13 if you open your Bible it is first book of the Bible, so it should be easy unless you just have the New Testament. Then you will just have to look on with someone near you or swap Bibles.
There was a young boy that was going to see his grandfather and he was traveling by train. This was many years ago. He took his seat beside a man who happened to be a seminary professor and the boy was reading a Sunday School take-home paper. The professor noticed that, so he thought he would have a little fun with the young boy. He looked at the boy and he said young man if you can tell me something that God can do I will give you a big shiny apple. The thoughtful young boy looked at his paper then he looked up at that professor and he said mister, if you can tell me something that God can not do I will give you a barrel. All right, well I guess he learned something in Sunday school.
We have been talking about prayer and this is what is amazing to me about prayer. It is the ability to go to somebody that can do anything. We sing the song ‘Nothing is Impossible’ with God, nothing. We are talking about prayer. So last week we looked at Genesis 4 in verse 26. You do not have to turn there. I will review, because this was last Sunday morning. We were talking about Seth, the son of Seth. “To him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the Lord.” So we are going to be looking at Genesis 13, we are not going to be looking at just the topic of prayer but we are going to be looking at prayers of people in the Bible. We are going to be looking specifically at the man Abraham this morning. We are going to look at a couple of the prayers that he said, but then we are going to settle on one.
One person's assessment of prayer of when it is time to pray they said have you ever wondered when you know that it's time to pray. They said our stomachs growl when it's time to eat. Our eyes start closing when it is time to sleep (or on Sunday morning). When our sorrows strike and we get hurt, it is time for tears. When a new baby enters this world, it is time for gentle care. People will often tell us quite so, when it is time to come or stay or go. But how do you know when it is time to pray? There is an alarm going off next to your bed or is there a clanging inside your head. When is it time to pray? This person answered for me at the beginning and end of each day, when I am sick, feeling bad or scared or lonely or lost or sad. When the bills blow in like sand, I seek the touch of the master's hand. When I need patience, open peace and an abiding love that will not cease. When I am thankful for all there is, that is mine and yet is His. That is whenever my heart has something to say, that is how I know it is time to pray.
So we are looking at a couple of prayers first and then we will settle in on Genesis 13. So with Abraham, there is actually a couple times that he cried out to the Lord. One is a prayer of a desperate father. You find that in Genesis 17, this is when God appeared to Abraham. This is found in verses 1 through 4. “And when Abraham was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abraham and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.” Look at verse 3 it says, “And Abraham fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying. As for me, behold my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.” That is we see Abraham getting a covenant established and God was promising that a son, Isaac, would be born. If you know the story of Abraham, Abraham and his wife Sarah kind of connived together and they went into Egypt. We are actually going to be talking about that prayer that is found in Genesis 13. You see that one of the things that happened down in Egypt was that they got a maid to help Sarah and that maid's name was Hagar. In chapter 17, verse 18 we see Abraham as a father calling out for his son through that relationship with Hagar. In verse 18-19 it says “And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee! And God said Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.” Notice God sidesteps his prayer. He is calling out in a prayer as a father, a desperate father, for his son Ishmael but, God does not address that right away. Then look at verse 20, “And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve Prince's shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.” So we see the prayer of a desperate father.
If you go to Genesis 18 and verse 16-22, there is another prayer that Abraham raises up to God. “And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way. And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him. And the Lord said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know. And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the Lord.” We see a prayer of a desperate father and this is a prayer of a god-fearing uncle. Here is uncle Abraham and he knows that Lot, his nephew was there in this wicked city called Sodom. And he pleads the case and says won't you just spare the city because there is a righteous man named Lot, and eventually he gets God to send angels to rescue his nephew Lot. You see that there is a man that believed in prayer.
But let's go to chapter 13, and that is where we are going to settle in and learn this morning from Scripture. We are going to consider the prayer for needed restoration. Look at Genesis chapter 13, this is Abraham talking about his life. Beginning in verse 1, “And Abram went up out of Egypt, he and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot went with him, into the south. And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold. And he went on his journeys from the south even to Bethel, unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Hai:” Notice in verse 4, “Unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the Lord.” Here Abraham calls on the name of the Lord the place Bethel he goes back to. You are going to see earlier in Abraham's life this place called Bethel. He had established it when he came out of the land of Ur. He stopped at a place called Bethel and he set up an altar and and that's where we are going to get the context. So we have to go to chapter 12 to get the context of why he is returning to this place called Bethel.
Look at chapter 12 and verses 1 through 8, “Now the Lord said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation,...” So here we see God calls out, this is a call to come out in chapter 12 and verses 1 through 8. Abraham answered the call, we know this passage is explained to us a little further in the book of Hebrews. If you want to mark it down you can, but in the book of Hebrews we read about Abraham and this specific story of Genesis chapter 12. It is found in Hebrews chapter 11 and verse 8, it says “By faith Abraham when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.” The verse continues in verse 9, it says “By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”
So let's consider this, this was a call to come out for Abraham in chapter 12 and verses 1-8. God comes and says hey you are living in this land and I want to make you a special nation. Come out and I am going to bring you into a strange land and I will show you, according to Hebrews chapter 11. Abraham had no idea where he was going. Abraham did not know where he was going but he had to move by faith. So we believe God was establishing something for us as believers. We walk by faith and not by sight that was told to us by Paul in his epistles. We walk in a different setting as a Christian we are talking about prayer. Prayer is an act of faith. Why, because somebody that is unsaved is going to ask you, who are you praying to? God. Where is he at? Heaven, but actually he is everywhere. Oh come on, I mean you are praying to someone that is everywhere. So how do you know he is everywhere? Well, have you ever seen him? No, it's hard to explain it sometimes, isn't it so hard to explain about God. But this is what I know, by faith God is asking me to take some steps. He is asking me sometimes to stretch myself and to maybe do something that maybe I do not understand all the way. But God says hey, I want you to take this step. Abraham is teaching you and I a lesson in faith, that is, that sometimes God calls us to come out, to be a part. That is what Abraham is called to do, so he steps out as we saw in Hebrews chapter 11. Abraham was unsure of where he was going.
Then we go to Genesis chapter 12 notice in verse 6, “And Abraham passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land.” Notice in verse 8, “And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Haion on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the Lord, and called upon the name of Lord.” Look, there it is again. That is found in verse 4 of chapter 13, “and there Abraham called on the name of the Lord.” So this morning what we are going to dwell on a little bit is what happened in between verse 8 at verse 4 of chapter 13.
So he comes out he sets up Bethel. In Hebrew, Bethel means the house of God. He establishes worship. He is communing with God but something happened and that is what we are going to look at and this will affect your prayer life.
Notice what happens in verse 10, “And there was a famine in the land:” I want to dwell on that a little bit, think about it, because we see the call to come out in chapter 12 and verses 1 through 8. But in verse 10 we see the choice “and there was a famine in the land” and Abram noticed I don't think it's by chance “and Abram went down” I love the Bible, the Bible is picturesq. To me you know what Egypt is the picture of in the Bible? The flesh, it is a picture of the flesh. You know what you will always find? That you always gotta go down to get away from God. You always do, and here you see that Abram went down and it hurt his prayer life. He went down into Egypt. You have to be careful of the lure of Egypt because, guess what happened? A famine came in. At the beginning of chapter 13 notice what it says in verse 2, “And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold.” Some people look at that and say, man Egypt did him good. But you will notice later in chapter 13, that those riches caused - strife. All of a sudden Lot and Abraham could not even live together anymore.
You say wow, that is unbelievable. What you will find is that sometimes the lure of Egypt will promise you riches, but it is going to cause you strife. And later on, I think Abraham, that is why he was pleading, he was pleading in Genesis chapter 18 for his nephew Lot. Why, because he knew he went down to Egypt and he had a lot of riches. Maybe that is the reason that Lot said, hey I am going to pick Sodom. Because he saw his uncle Abraham at one time choose Egypt. There is responsibility in your choices folks. There is responsibility when you make a decision. Here in the Bible you always see that. What was Israel delivered from - Egypt. Where was Israel put under bondage - in Egypt. Egypt is a picture of the flesh, of the world, of that struggle.
What you find in verse 10, there was a famine in the land and Abram went down into Egypt. This is what I warn you of, be careful of decisions in time of famine. Be careful of decisions in time of famine. You know I think the timing of the famine is interesting. What was the timing, after Abraham moved out for the Lord. He made a huge decision. You know that biblically and I think all of us that have been saved for a little bit of time. You know this, when you have a huge victory, yeah watch out The devil is going to strike hard. He is going to strike hard.
Remember the story of Elijah. Elijah's on top of the mountain; Prophets of Baal slices and dices; fire comes down consumes the altar; and then all of a sudden he runs down and he beats chariots with horses. Now that is a guy, I do not know what kind of protein bar he ate, but man it fired him up. Turbo boost, man he is beating the chariots with horses down there. Then Queen Jezebel says I am going to kill you and, guess what, he takes off hiding. You know what, I'm the mountain top man, and you are feeling your Wheaties...be careful! The timing of the famine is interesting because it is after Abraham says I will go where you want me to go Lord. He is singing and all of a sudden there is no food. Sarah's in the tent cupboards, which I don't know how they work kind of a different attempt than with your cabinets. Alright, she is opening up the flaps looking in and she is looking in and says Abraham there is no food. Guess what the timing of the famine is - I think a teaching point for you guys and myself. That is sometimes we think that when I make a decision for God, God all of a sudden is going to open up the windows of heaven. You know what, I understand, I preach that, I have studied that passage, I believe God will bless your life. But I also read the story of Job and every once in a while you are doing what is right. I mean you have made good decisions and it does not go well, a time of famine comes. The timing of the famine is interesting to me, it is after a time of God's blessing. When sometimes we tend to relax, we let our guard down and the devil comes in. Be careful in those times. The Bible instructs us to be sober and to be vigilant all the time, so the timing of the famine is interesting
Then I think the other thing is, there is a testing in the famine. Now what do I mean by that? Testing during a time of famine is an opportunity to develop your faith. I think that we find that Abraham made some choices here, I think he let circumstances and self-preservation decide where he was going to go. Biblically what do we find, Egypt is always a picture of what, the flesh and the world. So I don't believe biblically as I look at the Bible and study it, I don't believe biblically that Abraham had a right to go down into Egypt. Even though there is a famine, even though it was sparse, but circumstances said wait a minute it seems like there is food in Egypt. Let's go or maybe it's just selfishness, it's self-preservation. There is food in Egypt, I am going there. What should I do? When it gets tough in your life and it's the time of famine, do not leave Bethel. That is what I am telling you, do not leave the house of God, and that is what some people do. It gets hard, it gets tough sometimes and we say you know what I guess this is not the place for me. I guess I have got to quit on God. Look it over, there is food alright. So is the physical everything - you know it is not. We need to be careful of decisions in time of famine. We need to be careful of human wisdom and reasoning.
Notice what takes over the spirit of Abraham, you will see then the verbage here, look. “And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there;” Look at what it says, “for the famine was grievous in the land.” You know sometimes you are going to have that in your life. You are going to have a grievous time, hard time. So look at verse 11-13, “And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarah his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon: Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save the alive. Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister:” So what happens here, if you read this story, what made Abraham make that decision? When you go down into Egypt during time of famine it is going to change your spirit and you are going to have a spirit of fear. Do you notice the spirit? Is it confidence? No. He is scared saying they are going to take you honey. All right then not just the spirit of fear, then it is a spirit of dishonesty and deception. So is it okay for Abraham to lie. Now notice then it is not just the spirit of fear and selfishness, it is deceitfulness. Then guess what he does, it is a spirit that causes hurt to others. Did you notice in the passage what happened to the Pharaoh? He was plagued. Why was he plagued? Did the Pharaoh know what he was doing? No, but Abraham the man of faith lied and deceived and was deceptive. Do you know that your actions can affect other people? Do you know that the Pharaoh was plagued not because of something he did necessarily, but because of Abraham. You need to be careful in the time of famine. In my heart this is what happens, sometimes, I am the same as you. When it gets tough you know what starts whispering. Oh, I mean is God really here? I mean, look at all these guys they experience all kinds of things. They are getting new cars. I mean, they never have a bill, ever, that is late. They have all the money in the world. Be careful just because they have everything basically in this physical world is that how you judge everything. Because now I never have a bill or maybe sometimes I have to get on my knees and I have got to beg and plead and say God you know what we need. God we need something here. You are saying God is not there because I have to get on my knees and beg and pray and say God I am burdened. No, I think God requires that sometimes. You know you will never find that in the Bible. You will never find in the Bible, that basically your savings account will always be full. I have not, yet believe me I have searched. I have searched for the little recipe that says if you give X amount of dollars to the church you will have X amount of dollars in your bank. But guess what God sometimes has you give and right as you give...I mean you are writing the check. There is something about it, it is like the mechanic demon that is inside the hood of your car. Right then while you are writing the check and he is throwing things, pulling wires, all kinds of stuff because as soon as you drop it in. All of a sudden the next day that you take the car in and they say oh yeah you know what it is going to cost you - the amount you wrote the check for that's what it is going to cost you too. You in time of famine, be careful, be careful God is still God. He is still real and it is an opportunity to develop your faith and it is an opportunity to display God's glory. You know God can get glory in time of famine, he can. He can get glory them. There is no Egypt in our life that is worth us forsaking our life of faith down here.
Did you notice in the passage here, there was a famine in the land, Abraham went down into Egypt. I mention a couple of things. In Egypt he came out, remember in chapter 13 and verse 2, he came out rich. But those riches caused a lot of strife in his family. Be careful of how you are weighing some of these blessings. Also it was in Egypt that he got a maid called Hagar. You will see it, read it. It is an Egyptian maid and because Abraham already had developed a spirit of deception and dishonesty lying to the Pharaoh, guess what, I think that transferred to his wife. They had been praying and praying and God had promised them a son. God must not have heard him in his time of famine. So now Sarah his wife says, hey, we have an Egyptian maiden named Hagar, maybe that is how you are supposed to get a son. And they had a son, Ishmael, but that was not God's promise. Be careful you see Egypt you may say the lure of Egypt ,hey look, they got food down there. Do not go down into Egypt.
Notice in chapter 13 and verse 1, and he “went up” you will see that verbiage many times in the Bible. I think it is picturesq and I think it is on purpose. Because you go down to Egypt and the only way to get out, is to look up. “And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south.” “And he went on his journeys from the south even to Bethel,” and they came back notice what it says he came back, “unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning,...”
So let me close with a couple of thoughts, we said that there is a call to come out. There was the choice to head down. But how do you come back to the right place? A place of prayer, and notice he is calling out and that is in chapter 13 and verse 4, “... and there Abraham called on the name of the Lord.” You notice what you will find in Egypt you will never see that phrase that he called on the name of the Lord because in Egypt you do not want to get on your knees. I Egypt you do not feel like doing anything with God anymore because Egypt takes the desire away from you. It is all about the flesh, it is all about self-satisfaction. But at some point we need to come up out of Egypt and we can get back to the place that we are calling upon the name of the Lord. Abraham left Egypt thinking properly of himself and thinking highly of God again. In this humble frame of mind is disclosed and the route he chose because he chose to go back to the beginning.
So let me give you a couple of thoughts, he went up. How do you come back to the right place? Start by heading back in the right direction. Start you say, well that seems really simple. Iit is simple to get saved, but I am not going to say it is easy. We call it the simple plan of salvation because simply I have to humble myself and say that I have no part in it. That is the hard part because I want to be able to say that I earned my way, I deserve this. No I don't, and neither do you. If you are unsaved here this morning, God's simple plan of salvation is still the same and that is that Jesus paid it all. Jesus sacrificed himself and you can not on your own in your own merit get to heaven. So guess what I have to do? I go up. I start by heading back in the right direction.
Notice secondly in the passage, he went back to the beginning. You know the Bible says that in the book of Revelation in chapter 2 the Bible says starting in verse 4, “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” What does he say go back to the beginning. I am heading back in the right directions alright, I went up, I am going back to the beginning. I am remembering my first love, I am going back. I am trying to remember that which brought me to righteousness. You know what brought me to righteousness, Christ. Jesus, he is first and foremost in my life. and when they go to Egypt I am pushing them away, I am thinking about my flesh again. What good has your flesh done? Most of us sitting here, we know what our flesh does for us, it takes us away from God. It leads us down to a dark path, a lonely path and it leaves us there. It is as though the devil sits there after we have fallen into that trap and he laughs at us as we sit in our own sorrow and remorse. And we say, what have I done. And you can hear him snicker because you are following the devil's path. He went up he started heading back in the right direction. He went back to the beginning. He remembered his first love and he got to the altar.
Altars were a place of worship of humbleness and of sacrifice. An altar you know we call it an altar of invitation. Some people are like so what does that mean, an altar of invitation. An altar in the Old Testament many times actually had animal sacrifices that they would do, but in the New Testament in Romans chapter 12 it tells us that “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice,...” and it indicates to us that we present to God at an altar a living sacrifice. So does that mean … no it is saying living, so it is alive. So you know it is saying, this temple, this body is His that is what it is saying. I get back to the place that I have that altar. And in my home do you know what that means, that also I have an altar at church, but I have a family altar. Do you know what family altar is? Remember what altar represents? Worship. Do you have a family time of worship? You should. You should have a personal time of worship, that is a time with you and God. And then there should be a family time of worship, that we come around. Why, because in your home you want it to be that God is first and foremost. I do not want my children to think that, why church that is something for there. I want them to understand that Egypt is bad all the time. All the time it is bad, Egypt is no place to have in our house. That idea of Egypt, going down to Egypt and so we do not want to have a house filled with flesh.
I love the story of Abraham. The Bible is a transparent book. You know what that means, it means that the Bible does not hide things from you and say Abraham and we just revear. You know what I see with Abraham, I see flaws. I know what you are going to find with Christians here, flaws. Some people will come to church and think Fairhaven is a bunch of sinners, okay I am not going to deny that because guess what, I am a sinner. So, are you saying that you are not, oh righteous one because you are a sinner too. Where the problem comes is when a church really does not deal with sin. That is when it is bad. You know what as sinners the problem is when we like that sin, and we dwell in that sin, and we do not want to change. What I like about the story of Abraham is, he started out and he built that altar at Bethel. He got away, he went down into Egypt, but in chapter 13 is there and he came out, he came up. Guess what the sad thing for some of us is? We go down to Egypt and we die there. No way, no, make it be that even though a just man falleth seven times … but is that where it starts and stops? No, what makes a just man, but he rises up again. As Christians here,you know what will make you different is when you understand like the example of Abraham. Abraham started out with a good prayer life and an altar in a worship, but time of famine came and he made a bad decision. But he did not let that stop him. He came up.
Notice in the our last remedy here as found in chapter 13 and verse 4 “...and there Abraham called on the name of the Lord.” You know what you will find, you can not do it. But you can call on the name of the Lord and he is always there. I read a story and I thought this was interesting. There was up a CPA, if you have met CPAs, CPAs have their own world of thinking. CPAs are very methodical, can sometimes irritate you, but a certified public accountant this is what he did. He did something that maybe all of us should do. He decided to open a journal with God. He wanted to write everything that God gave him and everything he gave to God. He started keeping a debit and a credit book with God. If someone did him a favor he put it down as God's gift to him, he credited. And then he started understanding credited God with His Son, with his food, his health, his friends, and all of a sudden he started listing out on the credit side thousands of credits. Finally he gave up and he said it is impossible for me to balance the books. I find indeed that God my is indeed my creditor and what I have done for him is next to nothing. I know what you will find, when you come to God, He is merciful that is what you find with Abraham.
Abraham came up out of Egypt, came back to Bethel and he is back calling upon the name of the Lord. That is why in Hebrews chapter 11, what is Abraham listed as, as a man of faith that we can follow. Why, was he perfect? Nope, but he learned that when God told him to do something, he prayed, he built that Bethel that house of God, and he worshiped. Then that time of famine came. He went away but he realized no no no no no I've got to get up out of Egypt and get back to Bethel. Could be that this morning, God dealt with you because you had a Bethel, a place of worship, but you shut it down. Maybe it was a time of famine, maybe was a time of struggle, and you like Abraham said wait a minute circumstances are telling me that I need to go back to Egypt my self-preservation kicked in and I need to get back to Egypt. No you do not. Meat chips will never benefit you but what you'll find is coming back to Bethel you can call again on the name of the Lord and He will hear you.