Remember Your Spiritual Father.
- 1. Remember Your Spiritual Father. It’s not Pastor Billy, but according to the right reverend Paul (cf. Rom 4:11-12, 16-17), its Abraham. The apostle writes: “therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring–not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all.” As our spiritual father, Abraham loved his neighbors, Sodom and Gomorrah. As Jesus states centuries later, “What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? ” Friendship prayer connects us to Abraham’s prayers.
Keep Your Ear Open to Your Neighbor.
2. Keep Your Ear Open to Your Neighbor. Genesis 18 states: “In those days, the LORD said: “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great, and their sin so grave.” Who was crying out to God? Probably the 10 members of Lot’s Jewish prayer group. In response to their prayers, God visits His representative, Abraham who is also praying. Abraham is worried about Sodom’s eternal destiny because God is worried. Friendship prayer is tuning into God’s plan because you have His heart. Was Abraham good friends with the Sodomites? Probably not. Like Jesus with the publicans and sinners, He dined with them but didn’t pull any punches and told the truth.
Ask God, Listen, Ask Again.
3. Ask God, Listen, Ask Again. Friendship prayer is a conversation. Abraham asks. God responds and Abraham asks again and again. With these prayers, “Abraham is lending his voice and also his heart, to the .divine will. ” (Pope Benedict). As Jesus reminds us, “keep on asking and you will receive; keep on seeking and you will find; keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you (cf. Matthew 7).” If you rank our cities by the “deadly sins,” our Sodom and Gomorrah is not San Francisco, LA or NYC. Our Sodom and Gomorrah is Vegas (no surprise) followed closely by St. Louis, MO, Cincinnati, Orlando, and Springfield, MO. My guess is we have today’s Abraham asking, seeking and knocking for God’s mercy.
Even though We are Dust we Pray.
4. Even though We are Dust we Pray. Abraham confesses, “See how I am presuming to speak to my Lord, though I am but dust and ashes!” Even though Abraham’s friend is eternal and his creator, he is bold enough to make requests. Praying like Abraham begins with “who am I” and ends with “why not me.” Presumption is one of today’s greatest sins. Greater than presumption is our failure to ask because of our failures. Our Lord’s brother reminds us, “You receive not because you ask not” (cf. James 4)
Because God is merciful, Abraham is merciful.
5. Because God is merciful Abraham is merciful. Mankind’s default response is judgment. God’s default demeanor is mercy. That’s why God doesn’t wrap up world history and complete what’s left in His plan. Mankind’s sin is piled higher than Mt Kilimanjaro. But men and women, like Abraham are acting as God’s agents in cities, states and nations. Yes, they have faith in a God of power and justice but also God’s mercy. The biggest stumbling block to authentic Christianity is not believing the paradoxes of our faith. God is merciful but He also executes justice. If you are looking for a Psalm to memorize, try Psalm 136. It’s God’s plan for the ages. Mercy and judgment. Fortunately, for us sinners, “mercy rejoices against judgment (cf James 2). “