This verse by verse Bible study on Genesis is an inductive verse by verse study with extensive reflections, teaching points, cross-references, and applications. They are the personal study of notes of a very good doctor friend of mine. His native tongue is Mandarin, but his English is amazing as you will see below. It is refreshing to take a look at this important book of Genesis through the eyes of a believer from another culture. Without further adieu: The Scribblings According to David.
Genesis 19 Inductive Bible Study
An Unlikely Man of Faith (VIII)
vv.1-15 The Judgment of Sodom – the Dreadful Deliverance
vv.23-29 The Judgment of Sodom – the Dreadful Execution
vv.30-38 The Judgment of Sodom – the Dreadful Aftermath
The two angels went to Sodom and were received by Lot. Shortly after that, the men of the whole city came to Lot’s house, violently demanding that the two angels be brought out and raped. Lot failed in mediating, even by offering his two virgin daughters to be raped in their stead. The angels struck blind the villains and urged Lot to get out of the city, warning him of the coming judgment. When Lot got away safe, God destroyed the city by raining fire and brimstone from heaven. Lot and his two daughters later lived in a cave. In fear of leaving no offspring behind, Lot’s two daughters each made their father drunk and impregnated him, and each bearing a son, who became the father of the Moabites and the Ammonites, respectively.
Who were the two angels (v.1)?
Most commentators agree that from the context, namely the narrative flow of Gen. XVIII to XIX, the two angels were the two men accompanied the Lord, subsequently separated from Him and now commissioned to execute judgment against the wicked city Sodom.
Why was Lot sitting at the gate of Sodom (v.1)?
The gate of the city was the place where many major social activities of the town were convened, especially the meeting of the elders for the discussion and prosecution of legal and civil matters (cf. Deut. 21:18-21; Ruth 4:1; Amos 5:15). Not unlike a social hub, the city gate was also a comfortable place to meet. Describing this custom in ancient Palestine, the JFB Commentary says, “In Eastern cities it is the market, the seat of justice, of social intercourse and amusement, especially a favorite lounge in the evenings, the arched roof affording a pleasant shade.”
The fact the Lot was sitting in the city gate of Sodom indicated that he had become well off and even gained a status as a respected ruling elder of the community. He had formerly been living in tents outside the city (Gen. 13:12). Now he had moved into the city and made it to the “upper class”.
Why did the angels say that they would spend the night in the square (v.2)?
In ancient times, most towns had no inns or hotels. A traveller in need of lodging, then, would often go to the town square, which is an open area near to the towered entrance to the city (i.e. city gate). Important cities might have more than one square, e.g. Jerusalem (Neh. 8:16).
They were, however, strongly urged by Lot to stay at his place. The MacArthur Study Bible commented, “Lot’s invitation to the two angels to partake themselves of his hospitality was most likely not just courtesy, but an effort to protect them from the known perversity of the Sodomites (cf. v.8).” In other words, Lot’s hospitality was intended more for protection than refreshment, because he knew full well the wretchedness of the people: if the two men were to spend the night at the square, they would highly likely be sexually harassed and physically harmed by the aggressive rabble in town. Anyway, what Lot feared did come to pass, as the following verses show.
What was the difference between Abraham and Lot in terms of showing hospitality?
Lot was a righteous man (2 Pet. 2:7). And his act of showing hospitality to the two men was one demonstration of his righteousness, even though when compared to his uncle, his hospitality was of a lesser degree.
Both bowed down with his face to the ground, yet upon seeing the visitors, Abraham “ran from the tent door to meet them” (Gen. 18:2), but Lot merely “rose to meet them” (Gen. 19:1). Both made a feast for the guests, yet Abraham prepared a far more extravagant feast (Gen. 18:6-8) than did Lot, for the nephew only “baked unleavened bread” (Gen. 19:3), though the Hebrew word for feast in Gen. 19:3 (“mishteh”) does indicate that wine would be served. But it is also reasonable since the two angels entered the city in the evening (Gen. 19:1), and thus Lot’s baking of unleavened bread might suggest haste rather than casualness. One more interesting difference is that Abraham’s wife, Sarah, was involved in the showing of hospitality, whereas Lot’s wife was not. We know from the rest of the narrative that Lot’s wife became a pillar of salt because she deliberately ignored the angels’ warning. Her absence in the first three verses of the chapter probably gives us further clue of her character.
What exactly was the defining sin of the Sodomites?
The prophet Ezekiel orated, “Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy. Thus they were haughty and committed abominations before Me. Therefore I removed them when I saw it” (Eze. 16:49-50). As we can see, arrogance out of contentment and oppressing the poor and needy was probably before they “committed abominations”. Sin never exists in a vacuum; never exists in isolation. But the defining sin of Sodom, the “abomination”, is homosexuality, or Sodomy, to use the old English word.
A case against homosexuality has been made elsewhere (Unpublished data…). As homosexuality becomes increasingly tolerated in contemporary secular culture, Gen. XIX is too politically incorrect, or even too blatantly offensive, as perceived by some churches and believers, to be accepted by the unbelieving world. For the sake of effective evangelism, they reasoned, any tension-creating obstacle like this must be removed. And they came up with novel ways to interpret the passage. Some say that the sin of the Sodomites was a lack of hospitality, and the reason is that when they said to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have relations with them” (Gen. 19:4, NASB; emphasis mine), the original Hebrew word for “have relations with” was in fact know. Therefore, according to this interpretation, the Sodomites were trying to get to know the two angels, but they did it in such a violent and aggressive, thus inappropriate, way that God decided to punish them. That was their sin.
Nothing is farther from the truth, and nothing is more ridiculous than such a flabby way to approach Scripture.
The key to understand the nature of their transgression does lie in a correct understanding of the Hebrew word know. The word was used, for example, in Gen. 4:1, where it says, “Now the man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain, …” (emphasis mine) andGen. 4:17, “Cain had relations with his wife and she conceived, and gave birth to Enoch, …” (emphasis mine) The word know unmistakably carries a sexual connotation. It is, in fact, the most intimate relationship between two human beings.
Going back to Gen. 19:4, when the Bible says these Sodomites demanded to know the two angels, it means that these gangsters demanded toknow them carnally. Unmistakably, it was a horrifying attempt of homosexual rape. Furthermore, when Lot offered up his two virgin daughters, he said, “Now behold, I have two daughters who have not had relations with man; please let me bring them out to you, and do to them whatever you like, …” (Gen. 19:8, emphasis mine). The same word was also used here. Lot was saying to the Sodomites, “My two daughters are virgins; please rape them instead.” How Lot spoke of his daughters further substantiates the fact that the Sodomites were not involved in a vulgar lack of civility and hospitality, but in an appallingly perverse sexual aggression.
In a word, to know a person in Hebrews is a euphemistical way in saying to have sexual intercourse. It is the only possible way to provide a unified interpretation of all the related passages. To reject such interpretation is to reject the plain and simple meaning of Scripture, which the true Church has always been affirming and defending for ages past.
One may ask, why are we seeing this anyway? The reason, as the apostle Paul had forewarned, is: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths” (2 Tim. 4:3). Simply put, when men choose the path of sin, they would go to great length to rationalize it and silence their accusing conscience, and one of the ways to do that is to gather up “teacher” who would make them comfortable. No surprise. The Bible had long ago predicted that.
But as Christians, our mandate is always to “be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15), to “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction” (2 Tim. 4:2), and to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 3).
How did Lot come up with the ghastly idea as to offer his two virgin daughters to be raped by the vicious gang?
The Quest Study Bible made the following speculations:
Three factors may have contributed to Lot’s outrageous proposal: (1) Hospitality was considered one of the highest measures of a man. To take a stranger in was to guarantee his safety – even at personal risk. (2) Wives and daughters were typically viewed as property in his culture. (3) Living as he did in a degenerate society, Lot’s values were likely skewed. Sin distorts priorities and blurs the line between right and wrong. The combination of these factors may have caused Lot to make a horrible suggestion.
Whatever the true intention and motivation Lot might had when he handed over his two virgin daughters, what he proposed was a far cry of what the Bible teaches about the priority of family and sacrificial love. By the grace of God, Lot should have defended the safety of his family and guests, or died trying.
How did Lot’s daughters come up the repellent idea as to impregnate their own father?
One possibility is that, after spending years in Sodom, their thinking had already been seriously infected with all the vile, wretched sins of the infamous city.
This is of no small spiritual relevance to us today. Proximity to the world carries great risks. Even those who draw near to it, trusting in their own spiritual power and discernment, will in the end find themselves in one way or another unconsciously being affected, if not assimilated, by what the world feels, thinks and believes.
“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, …” (Rom. 12:1-2) wrote the apostle Paul after an 11-chapter length of eloquent theological treatise. The Bible calls Christians to offer themselves as living sacrifice as a spiritual service of worship to God, first and foremost, by living in non-conformity to the world. Yet that calling is rarely accomplished when the believer still harbors love of the world, which manifests itself by being close to the world. In Sodom, Lot might be the only righteous man in town; he might be very careful in conducting his life; it was his prayer (the “outcry” mentioned in Gen. 18:20) that reached God and prompted the act of divine judgment. But do you think what’s going on around him has absolutely no effect on his thinking and acting?
Scripture never urges us to leave the world and pursue monastic lives as a way of holy living, for Christ says, “I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. … As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world” (Jn. 17:15,18). But we are repetitively warned about the folly and danger of loving the world. Here are a few:
“You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (Jas. 4:4)
“Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.” (1 Jn. 2:15-17)
Non-conformity to the world does not mean a primitive lifestyle of plain-cut clothing, horse-drawn carriage and abstinence from the use of electricity. The separatism of the Christian is the separatism of the mind. And it doesn’t take a neuroscientist to tell us what we are exposed to day in and day out will most assuredly have an impact on our thinking. If we keep allowing worldly signals to flood our brain, comfortably thinking that we’re still in control, the truth it, whether or not we may recognize that, its impact is definitely there. If it is really up to us, Paul would not have warned, “Do not be deceived: Bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Cor. 15:33), nor would he exhort, “Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart” (2 Tim. 2:22). We ought to choose our friends wisely, and following the same line of thinking, we also ought to choose our circumstances and exposure wisely.
When we take a look on how Lot got into Sodom, we see his migration towards the city was a gradual process. Closer and closer did he move his tent until he finally settled down in it. Several chapters earlier he was taken as a POW; now what he had known as home was totally obliterated. What a high price to pay! All of this simply because he lifted up his eyes, saw Sodom and Gomorrah, and decided to move towards it (Gen. 13:10). QuotingJas. 4:4 again, friendship with the world is hostility towards God. And let us be extra cautious, not to let our proximity to the world be turned intointimacy with the world. Or, better yet, let us not even consider proximity to the world a wholesome choice! Remember, the right question to ask is not “How close I can get without falling into sin?” but “How far I can stay away in order to be pure?”
Lessons and Reflections
Despite all his blemishes, Lot was still called a “righteous” man.
Over and over again I have heard the same complaint against the biblical character Lot from believers and non-believers alike. The Christian may focus on his flirting with and clinging to the world, while the non-Christian may be infuriated by his attempt to save his guests by offering up his two daughters to be raped. The complaint is plain and simple, and perhaps reasonable at first glance: What? After all that he had done, Lot was still a righteous man?
As a matter of fact, he was. And that gives us much food for thought. Theologically, at least it shows us two important truths.
First of all, it shows that in terms of righteousness, God has the final say. A man is never righteous unless God justifies him. In 2 Pet. 2:7-8, the Scripture says, “He rescued righteous Lot… [who] while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds”. Lot was righteous not because we say he was; nor was he not righteous because we think otherwise. Lot was righteous because (and only because) the righteous Judge of the universe declares him so. The definitive evaluation of men’s standing belongs solely to God, for He is “just and the justifier of the one who has faith” (Rom. 3:26). This truth is a great comfort to believers who happen to be struggling with guilt. Often the Adversary would come and try to destroy our confidence in the sufficiency of Christ’s atoning death, but the apostle Paul wrote by way of rebuttal, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? … Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us” (Rom. 8:31,33). To say it plainly: if God is for us, no one is against us, not even the ruler of this world (Jn. 12:31, 1 Jn. 5:19). And if God has justified us, no one can bring a charge against us, not even the Accuser who accuses us day and night (Rev. 12:10). If we are in Christ, then no ounce of guilt should fall on us, for Christ had born the full weight of it all at Calvary. As the hymn In Christ Alone goes, “No guilt in life, no fear in death, this is the power of Christ in me”. Therefore, despite all his blemishes (and some were really horrifying), Lot was still righteous because the Judge had so declared. And what God had thus justified, let not man condemn.
Second, it shows that it is always disappointing to look to men and try to find that which can only be found in God. Lot was a righteous man, but not unlike many who have been declared righteous in Christ today, his life was full of all kinds of issues. If we look intensely to Lot, wanting to see the image of a stained-glass saint, we could not have looked more futilely. Likewise, Christians who have been justified are still full of all kinds of issues. If we look intensely into Christians, wanting to see a state of sinless perfection, we also could not have looked more futilely. The holiness of a justified man is positional, yet to be practical, and his righteousness imputed, yet to be imparted. Sanctification is a life-long construction project. And we should have the discernment to tell what part in a Christian is the gracious work of the indwelling Spirit, and what part in him is the mortal result of his unredeemed flesh. It is true that we are to look to the examples of our forerunners, as Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Therefore I exhort you, be imitators of me” (1 Cor. 4:16). But while looking at them we need to be sober in mind: they are saved sinners just as we are, regardless of their spiritual maturity and ministerial fruitfulness. Never raise up a pedestal for any man to be gazed upon, for in the end you must surely find disappointment. That is why Paul wrote in another place, complimenting on what kind of imitation this is supposed to be, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). Walking in the footsteps of our forerunners is ultimately meant for walking in the footsteps of Christ. Lot was a righteous man, but he is not to be looked upon as if all our spiritual nutrients would somehow come from that looking. Rather, let us always fix our eyes upon “the author and perfecter of faith” (Heb. 12:2), entirely and exclusively.
As a footnote, in fact, some commentators see a parallel between Noah and Lot in several ways:
(1) both received warning of a coming judgment at cataclysmic scale (Noah: Gen. 6:13; Lot: Gen. 19:13);
(2) both were delivered from the wrath of God (Noah: Gen. 7:7; Lot: Gen. 19:29);
(3) both were declared righteous (Noah: Gen. 6:9; Lot: 2 Pet. 2:7).
The world would like to view Christians as judges.
When Lot’s house was surrounded by every sex-mad Sodomite in town, he said to them, “Please, my brothers, do not act wickedly” (Gen. 19:6). It is a statement that indicates Lot’s righteousness. Yet it is also the statement that ignited the gang of violent aggressors. But they said, “Stand aside.” Furthermore, they said, “This one came in as an alien, and already he is acting like a judge; now we will treat you worse than them (Gen. 19:9).
When a Christian brings the Gospel of salvation to the dying world but is rejected, the same scene is happening all over again, perhaps on a smaller scale. Nonetheless, sinners who don’t want to repent would be enraged at the Good News, no, the preacher of the Good News. “Who made you a judge to tell me I have sin?” They would cry.
The word “judge” is one of the cultural hangovers of Christianity in western civilization. To my surprise, the New Oxford American Dictionarydoes not include the conventional usage of the word in moral reasoning, which originally comes from the Bible. For example, Christ taught in the Sermon on the Mount, “Do not judge so that you will not be judged” (Matt. 7:1). Paul exhorted the church in Rome, “Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions” (Rom. 14:1). James also wrote in his epistle, “There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?” (Jas. 4:12) Therefore, in this usage, to “judge” means to “condemn something or someone to be morally evil”.
As one can imagine, in contemporary Hollywood culture, in which pride had been elevated to a virtue and self-esteem had become the panacea for all psychological problems, to “judge” someone and make him feel “guilty”, is the single greatest mortal crime. People believe feeling good about themselves trumps anything and everything. If anything, they certainly don’t want to feel bad. Therefore, when Christians discuss from the Bible the morality of homosexuality, abortion and many other subjects, most commonly they will receive a shout of rage: “How dare you judge!” Furthermore, against such a backdrop of culture, telling people that they have sin and are going to hell unless they repent becomes extremely offensive, and thus unpopular.
But we know that the Savior Himself is referred to as “a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense” (Rom. 9:33). Whenever Christ is preached, people can be offended and stumble. And as Paul has written in 2 Cor. 2:15-16, “For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things.” We are to some, a fragrant aroma, and to others, an odorous stench. But understand this: that fragrance (or stench) does not come from us, but the One who is in us. In other words, it is not us who judge, but the Savior we preach. Therefore, next time when we evangelize, let the audience know that condemnation comes not from the messenger, but from the message. Not only shall we make it clear that we are not judging them, but also we should tell them that the Judge is willing to forgive them if they repent and put their faith in Jesus.
“People go to hell sweating”.
This is truly an interesting statement. It simply means that sin is hard work. When the angels struck blind the Sodomites, one might think that they would all came to their senses, gave up their perverse attempts and went home. In fact, their reaction was the very opposite: “they wearied themselves trying to find the doorway” (Gen. 19:11).
Why did they behave like that? Perhaps they thought by killing the angels who struck them their blindness would be dispelled. That made sense. But perhaps a better hypothesis is this: they were still trying to do to the angels in their blindness what they wanted to do with their sight. That is the horrific picture of a man in whom the dominating rule is sin (And by the way, among all sins, sexual sin is the most enslaving and controlling). I believe in the total depravity of man. Although men being totally depraved does not mean every man will be as bad as he can be, but left to their own devices, without any external restraint, sinners can behave like that: they would desire nothing but sin, and when deprived of it, they would do everything they can to get it back. They like sin so much so that they work hard to sin. The broadways to hell are flooded with the sweats of men.
Rom. 3:13-18 is a graphic illustration of these men: “Their throat is an open grave, with their tongues they keep deceiving. The poison of asps is under their lips, whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; destruction and misery are in their paths, and the path of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
With all its fleshly pleasures, sin is hard work. That is one of the reasons why salvation is referred to as a rest to the soul. In warning the spiritual fence-sitters who waver in making commitment to follow Christ, the author of Hebrews wrote, “Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard” (Heb. 4:1-2) and “Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience” (Heb. 4:11). The promised rest cannot be entered without faith and diligence. But it must be entered, for the call to salvation is an invitation to rest from all our labors of sin (and man-made religion of work-righteousness).
Sin is hard work, and those living in sin live their lives in a perpetual state of restlessness, as is described in Prov. 4:16, “For they cannot sleep unless they do evil; and they are robbed of sleep unless they make someone stumble.” Such a state of restlessness is hopeless and humanly incurable. “Our hearts are restless”, says Augustine, “until they rest in Thee.” And who else should we turn to but Christ Himself? “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).
“If God had not been merciful to us, our lingering had been our ruin.”
When morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Up, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away in the punishment of the city.” But he hesitated. (Gen. 19:15-16a)
The most astonishing part of the story, perhaps, is not fire and brimstone could be raining down from heaven, but Lot, being so explicitly warned of the coming judgment, lingered.
We could easily make a list of all the possible motivations about his reluctance: love of the world, doubt of the angels’ words, belief in fluke that he will escape judgment without leaving, and, more likely, a combination of those. Thus, he hesitated. To some extent, Lot’s lingering was, by nature, the same as his wife’s looking back, even though Lot’s faith was qualitatively different from his wife’s.
Another [disciple] also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good- bye to those at home.” But Jesus said to him, “ No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Lk. 9:61-62)
Anyone who looks backward while plowing will quickly veer off course and cut a crooked furrow. Life and ministry in the Kingdom is never to be engaged without seriousness. Lord Jesus was not interested in a half-hearted discipleship or a part-time commitment. Personal comforts, personal riches, and personal relationships that stand in the way between a believer and God are to be altogether removed. If we are to love the Lord, we are to love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength, with every part of who we are and what we have, short of nothing.
So the men seized his hand and the hand of his wife and the hands of his two daughters, for the compassion of the Lord was upon him; and they brought him out, and put him outside the city. (Gen. 19:16b)
In the end, Lot was delivered despite his foolish decision to stay, “for the compassion of the Lord was upon him”. And thus the whole point of the story, as we can see, is divine mercy. Matthew Henry commented,
Lot lingered; he trifled. Thus many who are under convictions about their spiritual state, and the necessity of a change, defer that needful work. The salvation of the most righteous men is of God’s mercy, not by their own merit. We are saved by grace. God’s power also must be acknowledged in bringing souls out of a sinful state. If God had not been merciful to us, our lingering had been our ruin. Lot must flee for his life. He must not hanker after Sodom. Such commands as these are given to those who, through grace, are delivered out of a sinful state and condition. Return not to sin and Satan. Rest not in self and the world. Reach toward Christ and heaven, for that is escaping to the mountain, short of which we must not stop.
God knows our prayer before we say it.
Thus it came about, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when He overthrew the cities in which Lot lived. (Gen. 19:29)
The little phrase “God remembered Abraham” stuck in the middle of the verse deserves special attention. We must not forget the dauntless “bargain” Abraham had made to God in the previous chapter. “Will You indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city? … Suppose the fifty righteous are lacking five? … Suppose forty are found there? … suppose thirty are found there? … suppose twenty are found there? … suppose ten are found there?” Did Abraham specifically ask for the salvage of Lot? No, he didn’t. But when Abraham prayed to God, his heart was searched. Though he did not explicitly say it out, God knew he had his nephew in mind. And here in Gen. 19:29, the verse gives us a hint that Lot’s deliverance was a divine favor shown to Abraham. This is even more incredible: what Abraham didn’t ask, God had answered! In Abraham’s prayer, he simply affirmed God’s righteousness and justice, and pleaded for the judgment to be averted on account of a minority of righteous people, which was in accord with God’s mercy. That condition was never met, so God poured down His wrath anyway, yet granted that the one whose safety Abraham was most concern be delivered.
Shouldn’t that give us something to learn in our prayer?
When we are so crazy about getting something from God, we would just care about what we want, and nothing else. One the one hand, we would be so consumed in our wants as to forget that God has already had in mind what we need. On the other hand, we would also be so absorbed in our petty little self-interests that we have no interests in contemplating on the One from whom every good and perfect gift shall come. Our prayers, then, became vain repetitions of all the information wrapped around our wants, and God, in a sense, became a genie in a bottle that pops up and says, “three wishes”.
But God knows our needs better than we do. In teaching His disciples how to pray, Jesus says, “… when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him” (Matt. 6:8). And we are to seek Him first before we seek our own interests, for in the same chapter, Jesus also says “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat? ’ or ‘What will we drink? ’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing? ’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matt. 6:31-33)
The apostle Paul wrote, “… [God] is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us” (Eph. 3:20). The apostle James also wrote, “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much” (Jas. 5:16b). Abraham’s prayer did accomplish much, in that what he didn’t ask, God answered, and He answered beyond what Abraham asked and thought. Abraham sought God’s will first and trusted that God would take care of his need, and God remembered him.
Love not the world or anything of the world.
When sharing the Gospel, make sure people understand Christians are not judging them, but the message of the Cross.
Be less self-focused in prayer.