Would you negotiate with God like Abraham did? Starting out with fifty people that might be innocent, would God let them live? Then asking if forty-five or thirty or twenty or ten innocent people? Would you tempt God in that way?
You may not think this way, but we all do this every day. When we pray we often ask God for something. If God’s grants us our request, do we remember to thank Him? If God does not grant our request, we assume we have asked the wrong question. So, we make another request, asking God for something almost like our first request.
We think we are asking God the wrong question and if we can just find the right question to ask, God will grant us our request. This is not the way God responds to us. It is not a guessing game. Abraham kept asking God to save the innocent lives in Sodom. Abraham knew his nephew lived in Sodom. Abraham did not want his nephew to die. Abraham is speaking to God in prayer.
Whenever we speak to God, we enter prayer. Each time Abraham asked God that God save the innocent people, God said “Yes”. God answered Abraham’s prayers five times that God would save the innocent people. And that is exactly what happened. God did not find ten innocent people in Sodom.
But God did allow Abraham’s nephew, Lot, and his family to leave Sodom before God destroyed Sodom. God answered Abraham’s prayer but not exactly the way Abraham thought God would answer the prayer. And, if we look back to earlier chapters of Genesis, we discover Lot was not a very innocent person. But for Abraham’s request, God does save Lot and his family. Without Abraham’s prayer I think when God destroyed Sodom God would also have destroyed Lot and his family.
In the gospel, the disciples ask Jesus to teach them how to pray Like John the Baptist taught his disciples how to pray. Did you ever wonder, how did John teach his disciples how to pray? What prayers did John teach them?
It is thought that John may have been a member of the very religious order of Jewish faith known as the Essenes. They studied the Torah and carefully performed all the religious rites according to their faith. If John had been trained by the Essenes, he certainly would have memorized much of the Torah. Perhaps John also taught them the Psalms. Did Jesus’ disciples think Jesus would teach them the same way?
Jesus has a new teaching focused on forgiveness. We are to forgive one another as Jesus forgives us. When we pray, we know we are sinners and that we need to ask for forgiveness. Jesus also knows we need to forgive ourselves and our neighbors.
Just like Abraham, we are to ask, and we will receive, seek and we will find, knock and the door will be opened to us. God responds to all our prayers. God will give us what we need. It is not a guessing game for God. Nor should we try to guess what God will grant to us. Rather, we are to turn to God and learn what God has planned for us.
We all need to continue to grow in faith and love. Abraham’s faith grew when God responded ‘Yes’ to each of his prayers. What God actually did is not what Abraham expected, but Abraham’s faith grew because God expanded Abraham’s faith. Abraham learned to trust in God.
May the Lord bless you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen