Sermon Text: Genesis 18:20 – 32
Pastor Daniel Schmidt
There is a game that many children enjoy playing. I am not talking about the latest video game or on-line game. This “game” is a game that children enjoy playing with their parents. It starts by asking Mom or Dad a question, and having the parent respond with the one word the child did not want to hear: “No!” Immediately after hearing the answer “No!” The question comes back “Well, why not?” To which the parent will most often respond, “Because I said so, that’s why!” To which the child responds with “Please!” To which the parents responds again with the word “NO!” And back and forth it goes: the child continuing to ask, “Please!”, and the parent saying “No!” until the goal of the game is reached, and the parent gives in and says, “Well, OK! I guess so!”
While parents would like it if their children simply stopped asking at some point, this is not true with our loving Father in heaven. He never gets tired of hearing from us. In love for you and me, our Savior-God promises to hear and answer each one of our prayers. And he wants you and me to pray to him on a regular, on-going basis. Today’s encouragement from God’s Word for you and me is to Keep on Praying to the LORD!
In the opening verses of Genesis 18, we read about three men visiting Abraham and Sarah. We know from the rest of Scripture that these weren’t three ordinary men, out on a journey. They were two angels and the LORD himself who had taken on human form. After making Abraham and Sarah the promise that they would have son in the next year, the LORD reveals to Abraham that he is going to destroy the cites of Sodom and Gomorrah because of the continued wickedness taking place in those cities.
Abraham’s nephew, Lot, and his family had moved into Sodom, so Abraham pleads that the LORD would not destroy the city. He begins his prayer, “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? Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” To which the LORD responds, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”
But the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah was well known to Abraham. He knew there wouldn’t be 50 righteous people in these cities. So he continues to pray, “What if there are only 45…or 40…or 30…or 20…or 10.” To which, each time, the LORD’s response was, “For the sake of the 45…the 40…the 30…the 20…the 10, I will not destroy it.” Abraham kept on praying. And each time, the LORD answered him in love and mercy.
There are a several lessons from the verses of God’s Word for you and me. First, notice to whom Abraham addressed his prayers. He didn’t pray to a false god made of metal or stone. He didn’t have to go through another person. Abraham was able to talk directly with the one and only true God. Abraham prayed to the LORD. He addressed his prayers to the God of faithful love and mercy; the compassionate and gracious God; the Savior-God.
So it is with you and me. But, it is important to remember that because of your sins and mine, on our own you and I have no right to speak to God. Afterall, who are we, sinners that we are, to think that the holy and just God will take time to listen to your prayers and mine! Yet, because of Jesus our Savior, you and I are dearly loved children of our heavenly Father. Forgiven of all our sins through the body and blood of our Savior given and shed on the cross, you and I are able to approach the throne of our compassionate and loving LORD with our prayers. As we sang a few moments ago from Psalm 6, “The LORD heard my cry for mercy; the LORD accepts my prayer.”
Another lesson: Abraham trusted that the LORD would hear and answer his prayer. Just like Abraham, you and I are able to have confidence as we keep on praying to the LORD. The LORD wants you and me to trust him, to be confident that he hears and answers each one of our prayers. In James chapter 1 we read, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does…Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.”
Finally, this event from Abraham’s life teaches you and me to keep on praying to the LORD. When the answer to our prayer isn’t the answer that we want to hear, you and I may be tempted to give up praying. Yet, as Jesus himself taught us in the Gospel Lesson for today from Luke chapter 11, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.’ “Then the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man’s boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs. “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.“
Do you have troubles at home? Keep on praying to the LORD! Do you have troubles at work? Keep on praying to the LORD! Do you have troubles with friends? Keep on praying to the LORD! Have you enjoyed a particular blessing from the LORD? Keep on praying to the LORD, offering him the praise and glory he alone deserves. Are struggling to accept the LORD’s will in your life, feeling like your prayers aren’t being heard or answered? Keep on praying to the LORD that he would give you an outpouring of the Holy Spirit and use his almighty Word to increase your faith and trust in him as your loving LORD, who makes you a promise: to make all things work out for your eternal good. Again, the words of our Savior come to mind when he says to you and me in today’s Gospel Lesson, “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
It seems that children never get tired of playing the game of asking Mom or Dad for a favor again and again and again. Certainly is it my prayer that you and I never get tired of approaching the throne of grace of our loving Father in heaven again and again and again. Because Jesus is your Savior, because Jesus won the forgiveness of all of your sins, because Jesus made you a dearly loved son or daughter of your Father in heaven,KEEP ON PRAYING TO THE LORD! Amen.