So the other two went on toward Sodom, but the Lord remained with Abraham a while. Then Abraham approached him and said, “Will you kill good and bad alike? Suppose you find fifty godly people there within the city—will you destroy it, and not spare it for their sakes?” (Genesis 18:22-24, tlb)
Prayer is an opportunity to bring our will into line with God’s plan.
Did Abraham change God’s mind? Of course not. The more likely answer is that God changed Abraham’s mind. Abraham knew that God is just and that he punishes sin, but he may have wondered about God’s mercy. Abraham seemed to be probing God’s mind to see how merciful he really was. He left his conversation with God convinced that God was both kind and fair. Our prayers won’t change God’s mind, but they may change ours just as Abraham’s prayer changed his. Prayer helps us better understand the mind of God.
Prayer is an opportunity to demonstrate our trust in God.
Why did God let Abraham question his justice and intercede for a wicked city? Abraham knew that God must punish sin, but he also knew from experience that God is merciful to sinners. God knew there were not ten righteous people in the city, but he was merciful enough to allow Abraham to intercede. He was also merciful enough to help Lot, Abraham’s nephew, get out of Sodom before it was destroyed. God does not take pleasure in destroying the wicked, but he must punish sin. He is both just and merciful. We should be thankful that God’s mercy extends to us.
Mark this well: The Lord has set apart the redeemed for himself. Therefore he will listen to me and answer when I call to him. (Psalm 4:3, tlb)
Prayer is speaking with God.
The godly are those who are faithful and devoted to God. David knew that God would hear him when he called and would answer him. We too can be confident that God listens to our prayers and answers when we call on him. Sometimes we think that God will not hear us because we have fallen short of his high standards for holy living. But if we have trusted Christ for salvation, God has forgiven us, and he will listen to us. When you feel as though your prayers are bouncing off the ceiling, remember that as a believer, you have been set apart by God—and he loves you. He hears and answers, although his answers may not be what you expect. Look at your problems in the light of God’s power instead of looking at God in the shadow of your problems.
So let us come boldly to the very throne of God and stay there to receive his mercy and to find grace to help us in our times of need. (Hebrews 4:16, tlb)
Prayer is an awesome privilege.
Prayer is our approach to God, and we are to come boldly. Some Christians approach God meekly with heads hung low, afraid to ask him to meet their needs. Others pray flippantly, giving little thought to what they say. Come with reverence because he is your King. But also come with bold assurance because he is your Friend and Counselor.