Genesis 18:16-33, where Abraham pleads with God for the city of Sodom.
First we see that true prayer begins with God, vs 17, where God reveals to Abraham that he is going to go down and see if the sin in Sodom is grievous. God engages with Abraham “a friend of God” and tells him that he is going to destroy the cities. God doesn’t say specifically what he will do, but says He will go and see, and “I will know”. Abraham who knows all the sins of the city, knows the cities are doomed and thus begins to plead with God, because he recognizes Gods mercy. Verses 22-32 detail the conversation and back and forth negotiations between Abraham and God, and it’s quite interesting.
Abraham begins asking for the city to be spared, if there are but 50 righteous who are in it. He boldly prays, “Far be it from thee to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be it from Thee! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? God agrees that he will not destroy the cities if he finds 50 righteous. Abraham then asks for the city to be spared if there are but 45, he humbly states, “Behold I have taken upon myself to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes.” God agrees to spare for 45 righteous. Abraham asks to spare for 40, God agrees. Abraham again shows humility and more boldness, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak, suppose 30 be found”, God agrees to spare for 30. Notice here that Abraham began his negotiations by increments of 5, but now asks in increments of 10. Abraham asks to spare for 20, God agrees. Abraham asks to spare for 10, God agrees, and then the Lord went his way.
There are several lessons from these verses that God is revealing to us.
- True prayer starts with God, it’s about His will and intentions not ours.
- We should be humble and know our place, we are speaking to God the creator and ruler of the whole universe.
- When appealing to God’s gracious nature we can be very bold.
- Be persistent until an answer is received.