Let me say this…
But what if?
Then [Abraham] said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there.” [The Lord] answered, “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.”
Today’s first reading from Genesis is the story of Abraham’s negotiations with God. Abraham didn’t know what was coming in his discussions (prayer) with God. He was, however, open to listening to God. Abraham’s ears were open to what God had to say. This is an essential aspect of prayer. Prayer is more than just words. We have to put ourselves in God’s presence and be open to His promptings and invitations. Being he was open, God invited Abraham to the negotiating table.
The Lord was looking on the extreme wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah and was getting ready to judge them. But before he did, he said; “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing?” God was giving Abraham the chance to be a great diplomat, negotiator, and arbiter.
We all know someone who can get the best deals. They can dicker at yard sales; resolve disputes; get a new car at a great price; negotiate contracts and come out on top. They have the gift of words – and for some reason people just seem to say yes to whatever they ask. Weather or not we are good with those things; God gives all of us an opportunity to be great negotiators in our prayers.
Abraham started by listening to what God was saying. He considered God’s voice, and thought out its implications. Abraham had self-interest in saving the city – his nephew Lot lived there. Abraham wanted Lot and his family to be protected and he could have asked for their safety – but he never mentioned it to the Lord. Instead, his relationship with God gave him a heart of compassion, a heart that cried out for ANY person who was righteous and who would perish along with the wicked.
Abraham’s relationship with God also helped him to understand God’s character. He appealed to God’s character – His justice: He said: “Would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked?”
Prayer is most effective when we listen and understand the God we serve – knowing His nature and character. It is effective when it comes from a heart of love built up through prayer, worship, and service. It is effective when we keep pressing. Like Abraham we have to stay on it. The degree to which we press God for something reveals our heart. How much do we want God’s will done upon the earth? Finally, like Abraham we must be willing to be used of God. Pray by listening to God, being loving, knowing Him, pressing Him, and doing what is needed. This is great negotiation – prayer!