Abraham’s Prayer for Mercy

Read: Genesis 18:23-33

Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? . . . Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just? (vv. 23, 25)

Abraham pleaded with God to have mercy on the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. He was worried about the innocent people who lived there. In this conversational prayer, Abraham was also concerned about God’s character and reputation. Abraham was convinced that it was not worthy of God to sweep away the righteous with the wicked. His prayer was based on his faith in God, the true God of justice and goodness and mercy.

Abraham’s persistence was heard and answered by the Lord. He agreed to Abraham’s final request that Sodom and Gomorrah be spared if ten righteous people were found there. Long ago, our brother in the faith, John Calvin, remarked about this story, “It often happens that God, out of regard to a few, deals gently with the whole people.”

The sad ending to this story is that not even ten righteous people were found in the cities, and so they were utterly destroyed. Yet Abraham’s prayer for God’s mercy is an important model for us as we learn to pray for the people of the world. —Leanne VanDyk

Prayer: God of mercy, help us never to forget the needs of people that are in danger. Give us the persistence of Abraham to pray for their safety. Amen.

About the Author

Leanne VanDyk

Leanne Van Dyk is a Reformed theologian and theological educator. She has focused much of her work on atonement theology and the development of theological education. She is the tenth president of Columbia Theological Seminary.