Will God Listen to Your Prayer?
Even if God hears your prayer, will He answer it? If you have time, read all of Genesis chapters 18 and 19. It is a riveting account. Select verses are printed here for today’s devotion. God had become aware of the evilness of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, and He sought to destroy the cities. Lest we think their sin could not have been that terrible, we get a glimpse of it in Genesis 19:4-5, where the men of the city wished to group rape the visiting angels. The depravity was more than we can imagine. Abraham’s nephew Lot lived in Sodom. When Abraham learned of God’s plan to destroy the two towns, he feared for Lot’s life and pleaded with God to save him. Notice how God responds to the desperate plea of his friend Abraham.
Genesis 18:23-32 and Genesis 19:15-16, 29 (ESV)
From chapter 18: 23 Then Abraham drew near and said, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city. Will you then sweep away the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it? 25 Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” 26 And the LORD said, “If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”
27 Abraham answered and said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the LORD, I who am but dust and ashes. 28 Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking. Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?” And he said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.” 29 Again he spoke to him and said, “Suppose forty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of forty I will not do it.” 30 Then he said, “Oh let not the LORD be angry, and I will speak. Suppose thirty are found there.” He answered, “I will not do it, if I find thirty there.” 31 He said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it.” 32 Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.”
From chapter 19: 15 As morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city.” 19 But he lingered. So the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the LORD being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city.
29 So it was that, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, God remembered Abraham and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow when he overthrew the cities in which Lot had lived.
Digging into God’s Word
In this famous passage, we find several surprises:
This was not a well-thought-out prayer on Abraham’s part! Once he received a yes, he asked for more and then even more. Abraham was desperate to save his nephew, and he pleaded as far as he thought he could possibly plead.
God not only heard Abraham’s prayer, but He responded, multiple times. The truth of God’s Word is that God doesn’t just hear our prayers, He also responds–sometimes with a yes, sometimes with a no, sometimes with yes but not yet, and sometimes with yes but you need to grow in some way first.
God understood the true request behind the request. Did you notice this? Abraham did not directly mention Lot in his prayer request! He seems to have prayed for anyone righteous who lived in the city. Skim through chapters 18 and 19 and you will find that Lot was lacking in redeeming qualities. Those townsmen who wanted to rape the angels? Lot offered his daughters to them, and the angels prevented the atrocity from occurring. Lot’s wife disobeyed the angels of the LORD, and his daughters later got Lot drunk and slept with him in order to procreate. These were hardly righteous people. Abraham pleaded with God to spare the cities if He found 10 righteous people, and God found not one righteous person. And yet, because of Abraham’s bold requests, God spared Lot and his immediate family.
Reflect on these questions. If you have time, journal your answers.
- What desperate prayer do you have for God at this time?
- What did you learn about God’s character in this account? Based on all that you see in chapters 18 and 19, what words would you use to describe God?
- How does this account help you to pray about your situation? Consider James 5:16 (ESV): “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” This verse can also be translated as “The effective prayer of a righteous person has great power.” What applications does this verse have for you?