Abraham is a man who strides through Scripture, towering above most in importance, intimacy with God, and integrity of character. We might well suppose that a man who earned the title, “The Friend of God,” would know not only a special intimacy, but an inside track on answered prayer and blessing in his life. Yet, the incidents of Genesis 18 and 19 afford a different perspective for us from which to profit.
His intercession was marked by rare intelligence and persistence. Where had he learned that it was inconsistent with God to destroy the righteous with the wicked? Was he thinking of Noah and the flood? How did Abraham know to stop at ten righteous instead of asking for eight, similar to the number saved from the flood? Had he learned that less than eight could not resist the storm of evil in Sodom? How did he determine that ten was the minimum number for God’s preservation of government? Throughout his years, Abraham came to know God and His past dealings with humanity – starting from the dust and ashes (Gen 18:29; cf. Gen 3:19), and moving onward to appreciate the character and ways of the awesomeness of God. Friendship entailed learning God, His character and ways. That knowledge of God was then employed in intercession and worship throughout his life.
While his life is replete with lessons of tremendous value to us in our dispensation, there are two from these chapters relevant for our consideration. His intercession for Sodom and the righteous who might be there is a remarkable display of a man who took up weighty moral issues with deity fearlessly, yet reverently. Yet, it is very possible that he never saw the results of his prayer. The divine historian is silent as to whether he knew that Lot had been delivered from Sodom. When he looked toward Sodom the next morning, he saw smoke ascending but no notification that Lot had been delivered. It is possible that such was his knowledge of, and confidence in, God, that he knew that God would not destroy the righteous with the wicked. But he may have had to wait for heaven to find out his prayer had been answered.
The second and more difficult lesson for us to learn is that, despite the multiple interventions which he made in Lot’s life, Abraham never had the satisfaction of even a “thank you” from his nephew. You may expend money, thought, tears, time, and energy, for believers who will never appreciate your efforts, yet God appreciates the Christlike care which this displays.
Prayers without visible results, and efforts which appear fruitless and unappreciated, test our devotion to, and confidence in, God. Is He deserving of our service even if there is no fruit? Is He so “good,” that we can leave our requests with Him even when we do not see the results? The “friend of God” thought so, and so have a multitude of saints since then.