Then the Lord said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”
The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the Lord. Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”
The Lord said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”
Then Abraham spoke up again: “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five people?”
“If I find forty-five there,” he said, “I will not destroy it.”
Once again he spoke to him, “What if only forty are found there?”
He said, “For the sake of forty, I will not do it.”
Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak. What if only thirty can be found there?”
He answered, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.”
Abraham said, “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty can be found there?”
He said, “For the sake of twenty, I will not destroy it.”
Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?”
He answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.”
When the Lord had finished speaking with Abraham, he left, and Abraham returned home.
- Genesis 18:20-33
“While working on the Student Bible my colleague and I made a selection of great prayers of the Bible, which can be read in a two-week period, one prayer per day. Some are intimate and private while others were delivered in a very public setting. Each gives an actual example of a person talking to God about an important matter and teaches something unique about prayer:”
- Philip Yancey, Prayer: Does it Make Any Difference?
I will be intermittently away from the keyboard for much of many of the days for about two weeks. I had been praying about what I could write during this period, or for this period. I try to stay a few days ahead in my writing, but with my cataract surgeries, and – confession time a little laziness – along with the heavy doctor visit schedule, I was writing my posts just in time. (Pardon the typos, if there were any. Really my biggest problem is changing verb tense, at will, throughout paragraphs, and within a sentence as Yancey does in the quote, but homonyms and blatant typos do exist after several reviews.) I had just read Yancey’s book, and I thought of his list of prayers. The chapter on Prayers in the Bible had started with the Lord’s prayer, gone to the Psalms as a whole, and included a general discussion on the prayers of Paul in his various letters. Then Yancey lists fourteen prayers after the paragraph above. The thought of this list struck me. Then when I re-read the page in the book, the words ‘two-week period’ struck me. Rather than the Holy Spirit striking me out with a third strike, I decided to write a few ideas – maybe some really short posts – for each prayer. I will copy the Yancey quote and this paragraph for each of the fourteen, so if you read every day, you can skip this with the remaining parts.
This is possibly the boldest prayer in the Bible. Abraham actually argues with God. He even questions God’s justice. I know, among my friends, most say that they will be asking for mercy instead of justice, come Judgment Day, but Abraham questioned God’s sense of justice, what you need to be a good judge. Then he dickered with God. Abraham started with fifty righteous people, then 45, then 40, then 30, then 20, then 10. (I was lousy at this kind of thing in Thailand and China when visiting the street vendors. I know I paid too much.)
From one sense, what bold audacity for Abraham to pray in such a manner with God?
But wait, why do we not pray in the same tone? God wants us to have such a strong faith that we know we are children of God and that God loves us. When we go to God, it should be like going to a loving Father, thus using ‘Father’ as His relation to us in the Scriptures. We have Jesus as a brother. Should we not, while maintaining reverence, ask God the hard questions? We might not get an immediate answer, but why not?
Bill Cosby is a four-letter word with most people these days, but in his comedy routine on Noah, Cosby, as Noah, argues about the troubles he has had building the ark and loading the animals. He then quips, “… And have You seen what’s in the bottom of the ark?!?!” Then the thunder rolls, and Cosby says, “Okay, okay, just you and me, Lord, right?” Then Cosby’s God voice says, “RIGHT.”
Joking aside, why not? When we understand the relationship and then we see something that does not seem right to us, why not address it? Only by addressing it does God, through the work of the Holy Spirit, find a way to lead us in our prayer and devotion time to the answer of that issue.
We all know what happened in Abraham’s case. Lot’s family was rescued, and Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. God did not find ten righteous people.
Have you ever thought about Abraham’s business dealings? He had probably done business with at least fifty people in Sodom who he thought were fairly nice people. Why else would he start the dickering at fifty righteous people?
It is not acceptable to God to simply be fairly nice. God wants us to believe and trust in Him in everything, worshipping Him in all things. But once we have Jesus in our hearts, almighty God wants us to have the kind of relationship that Abraham had, one where we can boldly talk to Him.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.