PRAYER 5 – God’s Pardon: Obtaining Mercy through prayer

The aim of this devotional study is to discover God’s heart and our responsibility concerning mercy for ourselves and other people.


Genesis 18: 20-33

20 And the Lord said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave, I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether  according to the outcry against it that has come to Me; and if not I will know. 22 Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the Lord.

23 And Abraham came near and said, “Would you also destroy the righteous with the wicked? 24 Suppose there where fifty righteous that were in it? Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” 26 So the Lord said, “If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.”

27 Then Abraham answered and said, “Indeed now, I who am but dust and ashes have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord: 28 suppose there were five less than fifty righteous; would You destroy all the city for lack of five? “ So He said, “If I find there forty five I will not destroy it.” 29 And he spoke to Him yet again and said, “suppose there should be forty there?” So He said, “I will not do it for the sake of forty.” 30 Then he said, “Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Suppose thirty should be found there?” And He said, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.” 31 And he said, “Indeed now, I have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord: suppose twenty should be found here?” So He said, “I will not destroy it for twenty.” 32 Then he said, “Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak but once more. Suppose ten should be found here?” And He said, “I will not destroy it for ten.”

33 So the Lord went His way as soon as He had finished speaking with Abraham; and Abraham returned to his place.

Observation & Reflection

A righteous just Judge could not have left the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah stand. Various scriptures confirm their wicked conduct and moral depravity, yet God was willing to spare the city on the terms that Abraham interceded for.

  1. How many times did Abraham appeal to the Lord?
  2. What does Abraham’s boldness in approaching ‘the Judge of all the earth’ (v25) on behalf of sinners reveal to you about a) Abraham, b) God and c) their relationship.
  3. Why did God NOT spare Sodom and Gomorrah in the end? (You can read the rest of the story in the following chapters)

Personal Application & Prayer

Can you think about an organization, system or person/s that you sometimes wish would just cease to exist or perish or at the very least get a righteous punishment for their deeds.

  1. If you see God’s willingness to spare Sodom and Gomorrah in spite of their wickedness how does that make you feel as a) a fellow Christian called to intercede for others and b) as a human being who makes mistakes.
  2. Praise God for his heart that is willing and ready to extend mercy. Think of someone who is in need of God’s merciful intervention – stand before God and plead their cause.

Thanks to Ester Venter for this devotional series on prayer!