Biblical Prayer: Conversations with God – Abraham
Genesis 12:1:4a, 15:1-6, First listen, then act.
Genesis 18:16-33, Pray for others.
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Genesis 12:1:4a, 15:1-6, First listen, then act. (8/18/08)
The really great pray-ers that we see in the Bible talk to God almost the same way that you or I would talk to a trusted and respected friend. They have conversations, not monologues or debates. This week and next we will look at some conversations with God. Abraham's greatest talent was the gift of really listening to God. In both incidents we read about today, Abraham first listened, and then acted.
Personally, I can listen for about a second and a half, and then, since God normally hasn't had a chance to get a word in edgewise, I go on with my demands. My husband will be the first to tell you that I have trouble listening. If you are able to listen in silence, great – skip directly to the scripture. If not, here's what works for me: I read the Bible s-l-o-w-l-y. I discovered this while I was taking Greek. There's nothing magical about Greek, except that I can only read about 50 words a minute, tops. (In English, I read about 500 words a minute.) That gives God time to speak to me through the scripture. It doesn't much matter what scripture I'm reading. As your fellow-reader Yvonne W. says, God's word is alive, and whatever you read will apply to whatever you need. So if you aren't normally a listener, try this exercise. Read a word or phrase, and pause. Read it a couple times. Try to figure out what it means. Then go on to the next word or phrase. What is God saying to you?
Today’s Prayer: Dear God, Amen.
Genesis 18:16-33, Pray for others. (8/19/08)
Abraham was powerful in intercessory prayer in his conversations with God. Now, skeptics have asked, if God is omniscient and omnipotent and benevolent, why should we believe that intercessory prayer is either needed or useful? We can't tell God anything he doesn't know, we can't enable him to do anything, and he clearly wants to benefit others. That seems to me to be a good question with a logical basis. The best answer, I think, comes from Blaise Pascal, a French mathematician and philosopher, who said in his Pensees that God established prayer to give his creatures "the dignity of causality." That idea is certainly supported by today's passage (vss. 17-19). Whatever God's reason is, I can tell you two things for sure: scripture tells us to pray for others, and intercessory prayer is efficacious.
Speaking of dignity, vs. 22 is one of the 18 or so "emendations of the scribes." It is well accepted among Jewish scholars that the text originally said, "the Lord stood before Abraham." "Standing before someone" implies that the person doing the standing is serving or honoring the other person. This was deemed to impugn the dignity of God, so the very earliest scribes changed it. The changes were made so early that we don't even have copies of the original unemended texts; however, the original texts are preserved in the List of Emendations. All but one of the changes protect the dignity of God; one protects the dignity of Moses. All of the emendations are tiny – a change in one or two letters or an alteration of word order, as we see today.
Today’s Prayer: Dear God, I ask your special blessing on my fellow readers. Please heal those who are sick, comfort those who mourn, and strengthen those who have reached the limit of their own endurance. Enlighten us all. Amen.
More About Biblical Prayer
The Purpose of Prayer
Conversations with God – Abraham
Conversations with God – Moses
Conversations with God – David and Solomon
Adoration: Sing to the Lord a New Song
When God Speaks
God promises to answer all prayers…
… Except the prayers of the Wicked. But if the Wicked repent, God hears them, too.
Sometimes the answer is “No.”
The disciples talk about prayer.
How Not to Pray
How to Pray: Effectively
How to Pray – Privately
How to Pray – Corporately
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