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The Powerful Cry of One
Disabusing the unbiblical belief that the more who pray, the better the results.
In times of crisis, many believe that the greater the number of people who pray, the more attention God pays and will respond positively.
I will prove from the Bible that “the great outcry to God of just one person” is enough.
Yesterday, we had the privilege of seeing our son Kade baptize his son James at their home church in Oklahoma City. The pastor at Kade’s church preached from Genesis 18 and 19 about God’s judgment on the people of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Rachelle and I take tour groups to the salt plains around the Dead Sea, where the vibrant cities of Sodom and Gomorrah existed until God destroyed them in 1911 B.C.
As the pastor read the text about the two cities, one verse jumped out at me:
“Then the LORD said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous” - Genesis 18:20.
“Who,” I thought, “was giving to God the great outcry about the sins of the people in Sodom and Gomorrah?”
You could tell from the text there weren’t many righteous people vexed in their spirits about the sexual immorality in the twin cities, so there could not have been many people who cried out.
It wasn’t fifty, it wasn’t forty-five. It wasn’t forty, thirty, twenty, or even ten people whose hearts cried out (see Genesis 18:23-33).
Lot “cried out to God” over the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah. He was the only one.
The writer of Hebrews says:
“Lot was a righteous man who was sick of the shameful immorality of the wicked people around him. That righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard.” (II Peter 2:7-8)
Just one man was vexed in his spirit about the sexual immorality around him. Just one man cried out to God about it.
And God moved.
God responded to Lot’s “great outcry.”
In all three cases, the outcry describes the feelings in the heart when sexual immorality, injustice, and pride bring God’s judgment to one’s city and country.
In Genesis 18:20, Lot finds himself an outcast in a culture of shameful immorality.
In Isaiah 5:15, Moabites flee as fugitives to escape injustice invading their land.
In Ezekiel 27:28, a “great outcry” goes up in response to God’s judgment on Tyre, the center of commercial commerce in Ezekiel’s day, whose proud leaders thought themselves invincible with no need of God.
The cry of one righteous person is powerful and effective” - James 5:16.
A Righteous Person
If you think righteousness is about you, then no wonder your prayers are powerless.
You’re an ordinary human being.
The Bible calls you “a jar of clay.”
Each of us is created to house God’s spirit within us.
Believers in Jesus as the Messiah contain the extraordinary treasure of the Almighty’s presence within (see II Corinthians 4:7).
We pray as ordinary people indwelt by an extraordinary God.
Effective prayer is not about us. It’s not about how many of us there are. It’s not about how sincerely we mean it. It’s not about how desperately we think we need something.
It’s not about us at all.
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content, whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well-fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him, who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11-13
When we begin to understand who we are by the grace of God, what we have by the work of God, and what He’ll do through us by the power of God, we pray “not to find contentment, but out of contentment.”
An ordinary person made righteous by the grace of God in the work of the Son of God is content regardless of the circumstances that come from God.
The Power of One
If you are not familiar with the story of Lot, you should know that Lot escaped the judgment of God.
He fled Sodom and Gomorrah and lived.
Why did Lot escape?
The Bible tells us:
“So it was that, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, God remembered Abraham and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow when he overthrew the cities in which Lot had lived. (Genesis 19:29).
What did God remember about Abraham?
God remembered Abraham’s prayer.
“LORD, will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?” (Genesis 18:23).
One man prayed, and the righteous of the city were saved.
One man who didn’t need Lot to live.
One man who was content if Lot died.
But one man who prayed that God would be honored in the salvation of the righteous and the destruction of the wicked.
Just one ordinary man who prayed a powerful prayer.
The next time you are in a crisis in your life, remember the powerful cry of one.
It’s not about how many people you get to pray for something.
It’s not about promising God to do better before you begin praying.
It’s not even about your need for something to change to be content in life.
Powerful, effectual prayer is just one person crying out to God, vexed in spirit, but verbally confessing contentment in whatever happens because you have learned to be content in God’s powerful presence in you through His grace and work in your Savior, the LORD Jesus Christ.
Then, God moves in mighty, mysterious, and majestic ways.
That’s the powerful cry of one.
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