Our life with God is shaped by the way we pray. Prayer is the basic communication with God in speaking and listening that is as essential as air, food and water to our biological life. Prayer is simple in the sense that every human being feels the pull to communicate with the divine, often whispering or shouting prayers unbidden. At the same time, prayer is complicated because we often don’t know how to approach God or what is okay to do.
I began a new series on prayer this past weekend at Eastbrook Church, “Great Prayers of the Bible“, in which we are looking at selected prayers throughout Scripture in order to learn how to pray. This series accompanies our Summer of Prayer at Eastbrook. The focus of the message this weekend is the interesting story of Abraham bargaining with God in prayer over Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 18:16-33. What can we learn about praying to God and how do we appropriately plead for the lost in prayer?
You can view the message video and an expanded sermon outline below. You can follow the entire series at our web-site, through the Eastbrook app, or through our audio podcast.
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Here are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Praying in the Midst of Promises and Problems,” from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church. This was the seventh part of our series “Faith Life.”
- How would you define ‘prayer’? Do you find it easy or hard to pray? Why?
- As we continue our “Faith Life” series on the life of Abraham this week, we will look at Genesis 18:16-33. Ask God to speak to you before your read this chapter of Genesis aloud.
- Earlier in Genesis 18, we find God meeting with Abraham and Sarah in the form of three travelers en route to Sodom and Gomorrah. Beginning in 18:16, two of the travelers continue on as God lingers to speak with Abraham. In verses 17-19, God reflects aloud to Himself about whether He should speak to Abraham about what is in store for Sodom and Gomorrah or not. What does God decide and why does He choose this?
- In verses 20 and 21, we find that an ‘outcry’ that has arisen against Sodom and Gomorrah to God. This outcry is likely the voices of the wronged rising up to God. What were the wrongs of Sodom and Gomorrah (see Genesis 13:13; 18:20-21; 19:1-14; Isaiah 1:10-17; 3:8-9; Jeremiah 23:13-14; Ezekiel 16:49-50)? What do you think it means that God hears this outcry?
- Abraham begins a bold conversation with God in verses 22-25 that almost seems like haggling or bargaining. Take note of the questions Abraham asks God in these verses. What is Abraham asking of God and how does that relate to God’s character?
- When have you entered into a time of prayer that felt like a sort of haggling of pleas with God? What happened?
- Through verses 25-32, it is interesting to note that Abraham is not merely pleading for Lot’s protection, but for entire cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. What does this teach us about the way we approach intercessory prayer?
- What is one way you could tangibly respond to what God is speaking to you about your own life of faith through this week’s study? If you are on your own, make a plan to put it into action. If you are with a group, take some time to discuss this with one another.
[Next week we will look at God’s fulfillment of His promises with the birth of Isaac and its impact upon Ishmael in Genesis 21:1-21.Read that passage ahead of time to prepare for the study.]
What does faith-filled prayer look like?
That was the central question I set out to answer this past weekend as I continued our “Faith Life” series at Eastbrook Church. Drawing upon Genesis 18:16-33, I outlined five types of faith-filled prayer that we see in this wonderfully entrancing dialogue between God and Abraham.
You can watch the video for the sermon and follow along with the sermon outline that is also included below.
You could listen to the message via our audio podcast here. You can access the entire series of messages from the “Faith Life” series here. You can also visit Eastbrook Church on Vimeo, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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