Like most of our Bible Readings, this one has several intriguing and challenging aspects we can focus on. But the one that has captured me is Abraham’s persistence in prayer for the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. There’s no question that these cities were characterized by evil and depravity. That makes Abraham’s continued pleading with God even more remarkable. His continuing to go back and ask for God to hold back judgment for the sake of some people gives us a picture of a man who had a heart of compassion. Contrast that with what we often hear from so-called Christian groups like Westboro Baptist whose message comes out as hateful, mean-spirited and condemning.
Abraham wasn’t blind to the evil, but he also understood that we all need grace because, none of us are truly righteous before God. Humbly admitting our sin and surrendering to God is how we find grace and mercy. Abraham’s prayer showed that he understood this.
Later, in the New Testament, Jesus gives us clear instructions on how we should pray, and it is very much like what Abraham did: “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy.
44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:43-45 (NLT)