Before I sat down to write, I had to do a few things before the words and sentences could make it from my keyboard to all of you on the other side of the screen. First, I had to turn the laptop on. Nothing would happen without the power generated by the battery, initiated by my will to write, right?
In my last post, I wrote about some phrases in Christendom that we hear from time to time, those that would seem to imply that God is somehow restricted until we say or speak the right things, that we can “unleash” His power; that He waits for us to initiate a speaking of faith for His work to be effective.
Is that really accurate? It would almost be like me waiting for the computer to verbally tell me to push the power button. (I’ll post the pic again just for kicks).
Besides, a reading of scripture would prove that this is not so. (Psalm 103:19 ).
While I believe God works through our prayers, there is a great imbalance to say that God is dependent on man in any sense, for then He would not be Sovereign over man. (Prov. 20:24 )
But here’s a basic question in all this “writing” analogy –
Can our prayers influence God to change his mind? As He sits down to write the chapters of our lives, can we influence Him to “edit” the outcome? To change the version?
I mentioned two prayers that seem to show that man can change God’s mind on a matter. The first is Abraham’ prayer over Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 18:20.
Sodom and Gomorrah were Old Testament cities that were grievously full of sin. So much so that God was about to destroy them. Abraham goes before the Lord to intercede for them and prayed that they would be spared. What follows is what I believe to be one of the most intriguing prayers in the Bible.
Abraham asked of the Lord, “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? He asks.
The Lord replies, ““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 because of five people? “If I find forty-five there,”
God said, “I will not destroy it.”
Once again he spoke to him, “What if only forty and 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.
So if God is Sovereign and omnipotent, as the Bible says, how is it that Abraham seems to get Him to concede not to destroy the cities in decreasing increments? Let’s look at this prayer and some of the principles we can glean from it:
First of all, Abraham approaches God with reverence and godly fear. Notice the meekness in his words: “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes,…” and as he prefaces his request with “May the Lord not be angry…”. He knows his position before God and speaks carefully not to offend Him. It shows that Abraham wasn’t trying to force God’s hand, so to speak. Contrast this with the attitude that presumes a bold intent to manipulate the hand of God.
Secondly, it tells us even though we don’t know what God will do; we still shouldn’t feel that we are restrained in approaching Him with our requests, especially for those that are lost and unsaved. I believe that part of the purpose and of this prayer was to show Abraham (and us) how we can pray as we are prodded along by the Lord, and not the other way around. God knew the extent of His mercy from the get-go, and with each request granted in God’s will, Abraham was encouraged to dare to ask for more.
In the end, there weren’t even ten righteous people in Sodom to be found, and God destroyed the cities. There were only four – Lot (Abraham’s cousin), his wife and two daughters who were spared. The outcome wasn’t exactly what Abraham was expecting, yet God remained true to both His grace and justice.
Do you believe God directs His children to pray in an already ordained direction? Let’s discuss!