Day 18. Guest blog by David Bellomo.
I have recently decided to start reading the Bible from cover to cover. So naturally I have been reading Genesis, a book I have read many times before; however, now I am reading it with the added perspective of reading Circle Maker alongside it. I am noticing things that I haven’t noticed in the past. In particular the story of Abraham stuck out to me in a way that it never has before. Circle Maker talks about praying bold and praying specifically. I never realized just how boldly and specifically Abraham prayed. As Abraham’s story of praying bold and specific prayers moves on, we get to see Abraham grow in his faith from at first laughing when God told him one of this promises, to having the confidence in God to pass one of the toughest tests God trusted Abraham with.
God tells Abraham in Genesis 15:1: “Do not be afraid, I am your shield, your very great reward.” Most of us would be pretty excited if God spoke that to us. Abraham on the other hand responds and asks God what reward he could possibly give him if he had no heir. In doing so Abraham is presenting a specific request to God for an heir to all that was his. God assures him that he will have an heir and that his descendants would be immeasurable. God speaks to Abraham later to confirm that he will keep his covenant by giving Abraham and his wife Sarah a child when Abraham is 100 years old. Abraham’s reaction to this… he laughs and suggests to God a different plan. Abraham tries to manufacture a miracle here. He suggests God uses his son born to a concubine instead. God reassures Abraham that he was not joking with him and Abraham proceeds in a big step of faith. Even though Abraham laughed at the idea of being blessed with a child at such an old age, he acts in obedience to what God told him to do and had every male in his household circumcised (sometimes being obedient to God can be quite painful, ouch!).
This is the key component of prayer and a relationship with God that is integral. Abraham stepped out in obedience to God even when he thought what God promised him was laughable and humanly impossible! Had Abraham not followed through on his end of the deal he may have forfeited God’s promised miracle to him. Shortly after this Abraham pleads with God when he finds out that he is going to wipe out the city of Sodom. Abraham continuously asks God specific prayers to spare Sodom on behalf of any righteous people that he could find in it. He prays that God would surely not destroy the righteous with the wicked and prays his way down, gradually growing in boldness, to ask God to spare the city if he finds just ten righteous people there. There were not ten righteous people in the city so the city was destroyed but God spared Lot, his wife, and his two daughters because they were righteous and because Lot was Abraham’s nephew. The Bible says that God remembered Abraham when he saved Lot from the destruction that faced his city. Abraham prayed that God would spare the righteous and he did. A year after God gave the promise of a child to Abraham he delivered on that promise. He had Abraham name the child Isaac, which means, “he laughs.”
I can’t help but wonder if God did this so Abraham would have a reminder of just how outlandish and impossible he thought the promise was but God delivered anyway. It would seem to me that Abraham’s faith to believe God for the outlandish and the impossible enabled him to pass the test God had for him when God asked him to bring his son as a sacrifice. When Isaac asked Abraham where the sacrifice was, Abraham speaks with faith and tells his son that God will provide the sacrifice.
All the while Abraham followed through in obedience until God intervened and provided a ram for the sacrifice. While this seems like quite a long story, the story of Abraham’s faith being developed is even longer than this, but a very important lesson can be gleaned from Abraham’s story. If you pray boldly and specifically, and you walk in obedience to what God is telling you to do (even when it doesn’t make sense to you), God will bless you, he will prove himself faithful, and he will radically transform your life for the better.