When I think of the various problems plaguing our cities across the country, it’s easy to fall down the path of discouragement, be paralyzed into inaction and succumb to depression. It seems everywhere we turn the brokenness of humanity is on display. The needs around us are so great. How do we manage to turn this ship around?
Our story certainly didn’t begin this way.
Back in the garden there was order, peace, joy and fellowship with a loving, wise Father. There was no lack, broken families or heartbreak. After the Fall we experienced the torment of separation from God and toil and hardship. There was a breakdown in communication not only with God, but with each other.
The command to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth was still fulfilled, but separation from the Father created a void where the cancer of self-will would grow along with the earth’s population.
Praying the Prayers on God’s Heart
There were still those who would call upon God and knew Him as their friend. Abraham was one such man, and when he was faced with the annihilation of his nephew, along with the city where Lot lived, he bargained in prayer with God. Indeed, it would appear that God even came near and invited him to do so.
The Lord said, “Abraham, I have heard that the people of Sodom and Gomorrah are doing all kinds of evil things. Now I am going down to see for myself if those people really are that bad. If they aren’t, I want to know about it.”
The men turned and started toward Sodom. But the Lord stayed with Abraham, who asked, “Lord, when you destroy the evil people, are you also going to destroy those who are good? Wouldn’t you spare the city if there are only fifty good people in it? You surely wouldn’t let them be killed when you destroy the evil ones. You are the judge of all the earth, and you do what is right.”
The Lord replied, “If I find fifty good people in Sodom, I will save the city to keep them from being killed.”
Abraham answered, “I am nothing more than the dust of the earth. Please forgive me, Lord, for daring to speak to you like this. But suppose there are only forty-five good people in Sodom. Would you still wipe out the whole city?”
“If I find forty-five good people,” the Lord replied, “I won’t destroy the city.”
“Suppose there are just forty good people?” Abraham asked.
“Even for them,” the Lord replied, “I won’t destroy the city.”
Abraham said, “Please don’t be angry, Lord, if I ask you what you will do if there are only thirty good people in the city.”
“If I find thirty,” the Lord replied, “I still won’t destroy it.”
Then Abraham said, “I don’t have any right to ask you, Lord, but what would you do if you find only twenty?”
“Because of them, I won’t destroy the city,” was the Lord’s answer.
Finally, Abraham said, “Please don’t get angry, Lord, if I speak just once more. Suppose you find only ten good people there.”
“For the sake of ten good people,” the Lord told him, “I still won’t destroy the city.”
After speaking with Abraham, the Lord left, and Abraham went back home.
Genesis 18:20-33 CEV
Sometimes God will place us in difficult situations so we’re forced to pray the prayers He already has on His heart for us to pray.
God listened to Abraham’s petitions. Some have conjectured that if Abraham had continued to ask God for mercy until one righteous man was left that He would have relented from sending fire upon the city. I honestly believe that Abraham was convinced there were at least 10 righteous souls in Sodom.
Abraham approached God in all humility, but with tenacity as well. Unfortunately there were not ten righteous souls to be found, and Sodom and her sister city Gomorrah were razed to the ground by fire. God saved Abraham’s nephew Lot as well as his family, though Lot’s wife looked back after being warned not to do so and turned into a pillar of salt. Curiously enough, salt is a natural preservative. The righteousness which preserved the very city was removed and God’s judgement fell.
You + God = VICTORY
There were others who faithfully cried out to God on behalf of their cities.
Elijah prayed on Mt. Carmel when so many hearts had turned from God to worship the false God Baal and fire fell in response to his prayers (1 Kings 18:20-40).
Solomon cried out for wisdom to discern good from evil while ruling his people and God answered his petition, giving him uncommon wisdom along with riches (1 Kings 3:5-14).
Daniel prayed three times a day to God and his prayers were miraculously answered. He prayed for Israel and the coming end of 70 years of captivity. The angel Gabriel was dispatched at the sound of his prayer, though he was delayed in coming by the demonic presence over the territory. Daniel stayed faithful in the midst of persecution and imminent death in a lion’s den and also received a revelation of when Jesus would come.
Jeremiah prayed for his city with bitter tears and distress over their sin and wickedness. He warned the people of the Lord’s coming judgement to no avail. God’s instructions brought a ray of hope in the midst of their darkness. Jeremiah 29:7 says, “And seek the peace of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its peace you will have peace.”
Nehemiah prayed and petitioned the Lord for his city, and miraculously rebuilt the wall of Jerusalem in just 52 days while experiencing fierce opposition from enemies on all sides (Nehemiah 6:15).
And let’s not forget the compassion and distress that Jesus showed as he approached Jerusalem. In Luke 13:34-35 we see Him crying out on behalf of the city. “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. And I tell you, you will not see Me again until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord.’”
There is one common thread in each of these examples I want you to notice. It only took ONE PERSON to change the course of history, one who dared to pray the prayer, one who chose to believe when everything in the natural was screaming that culture was winning and there was no hope.
May we let the desperation and distress around us drive us to the throne of grace to pray the audacious prayers that we need to pray to see our culture changed for God’s glory. You plus God is always a majority.
Chasing Ten Thousand
There is an ancient promise in the book of Leviticus that comes through living a life of obedience to God. I believe it still applies to our lives today.
“But you will chase your enemies and they will fall before you by the sword; five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand, and your enemies will fall before you by the sword. So I will turn toward you and make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will confirm My covenant with you…” (Leviticus 26:8).
Unlike the city of Gomorrah, there are more than 10 righteous in your city. Find them. Become lighthouses of prayer in your community and ask God to equip you to take back your city for Christ. Even now He stands at the door of our cities and knocks. Will you let Him in?
Father, thank You for the examples of faithfulness and tenacity we find in Your word. Equip us to pray the prayers our cities need so that Your Kingdom will come and Your perfect will done in our generation. Jesus, you called us the “salt” and “light” of the world. Salt is only useful when it penetrates the food it is seasoning. May we penetrate every inch of society and protect and preserve life. May our lights shine so brightly that those things hidden in darkness are exposed. Give us the courage to pray audacious, devil-whooping prayers. Let us walk together in unity and vision with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Cover us in Your righteousness and truth. We love You. We love our cities. Give us the weapons we need to tear down the strongholds that have held our cities captive for too long, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Lori Anderson-Bowen is the Charleston SC-C3 Intercessory Prayer Coordinator. She is passionate about hearing the voice of God and seeing people walk in freedom daily through the ministry of prayer. Lori is also a business partner with SC-C3 and the proud owner of Andowen Photography. You can contact her directly at email@example.com.