Arguing with God

Practically everyone in the Bible spends most of their time complaining to God about how unfair everything is, but not many people actually get him to change his mind.

(Very loose paraphrase indeed of Genesis 18:20-33)

God: “I’m going to kill everyone in Sodom and Gomorrah because they are so evil.”

Abraham: “What if there are some good people, 50 say: then you’d be killing 50 innocent people! Surely you wouldn’t do that – don’t you always do right?”

The Lord: “OK, I’ll spare them if there are 50 righteous people.”

Abraham [presumably reeling from this wholly unexpected response, presses home his advantage]: “Now that I’ve been brave and said this to you: well, if you’d do that for 50 people, why not 45? Would you kill everyone because of 5 people?”

God: “OK, if there are 45 people I won’t destroy them.”

Abraham: “What about 40 then?”

God: “OK, 40 it is.”

Abraham [getting nervous]: “Please don’t be angry, but what 30?”

God: “OK I won’t kill them if there are 30.”

Abraham: “Well, I’ve spoken already, so I’ll go on: make it 20.”

God: “Alright – 20.”

Abraham: “What about only 10?”

God: “OK we’ll make it 10.”

[God leaves before he gets beaten down any more.]

What is going on here? Why are my prayers not like this? Why do we prefix every request with “if it’s you’re will …” when we never mean it, or if we do mean it we’re obviously not praying about stuff we care about. We are not Jesus, and we really shouldn’t pretend we have his obedient spirit.

Abraham, arguably God’s favourite human being ever, was God’s favourite because he spoke his mind and had a real relationship with him. In this case he practically emotionally blackmails God, saying “I thought you were good – why not act like it?” Why don’t we plead with God in this way about, say, the killing and hatred in the Middle East?

Because we perpetuate the lie between us that God wants us bland.

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  1. But by continually bartering with God are we not more in danger of pushing for what we want, as opposed to what He wants for us?

    I still believe He wants the best for us and His plan will be the best for us in the long run. So should we not be opening ourselves more to his decisions and not trying to hide by attempting to side step the issue?

  2. If I ever meet anyone who is _too_ honest with God (i.e. has got the balance too far in the direction of expressing him/herself freely) I will:

    – pick myself up off the floor

    – let you know

    I’ve certainly never met anyone like that so far.

    He’s quite capable fo doing what’s best for us even if we ask for other things.

  3. Not sure if I’ve got the wrong end of the stick but I’m all for arguing with God and generally having a real discussions over what can and will happen. Basically Blandness sucks.

    I know it sounds awful but often I talk (praying if you like) to God and then reply for him. I’m not saying I’m God or anything but it helps me keep my mind on the topic. It would be more than just quite nice to have the real God speak.

    I guess we all crave a little attention especially by those precious few that we love and admire, I know I do.

    So if the issue lies with gaining the attention of God, then I have found that only when I go the extra mile do I receive anything worthwhile. I dare say that most people treasure most what they have put most effort into. I’m not saying that God only responds to those that make an effort but I am saying that he certainly has to pay more attention when you do. In fairness to Abraham, I believe he would have gone more than just the extra mile for God.

    Unfortunately for me I have found that the extra mile changes with time and some of what used to be a real challenge is now not a problem., this means there are now other areas which are exposed and inevitably harder to deal with.

    I suppose what I’m driving at is that I think Abraham would have got God down to 1 righteous man and then he would of put his own life on the line. If your prepared to do that you deserve a lot more than just attention.

    Having said all that I am still very jealous of Abraham just as any brother or sister would be if their parents showed favouritism to another sibling and yes I would wish that God would tell me why Abraham was his favourite.

  4. Is it arguing or is it pleading?? When I read the Psalms I hear a lot of arguing but then I wonder whther it comes from anger or desperation?? Anger can often lead to pleading when their is a feeling of hoplessness. I get angry with God and then I seem to slip quickly into a somewhat desperate pleading state. What did Bono mean when he sang “I’m all alone in the world and what a fucked up world it is to?”

  5. Yeah totally it normally feels like this. The reason I put this up is because God really seems to change his mind, so surely it must be more than just wailing pathetically …

  6. Yeah it’s weird.

    I like your idea about replying for him, but it only works if you know what he’s saying! It also could lead to major weirdness, but I trust you’ll keep your head on…

    Did God love Abraham more than me? Naah. Maybe he just liked him first.

    But also Abraham didn’t have any ideas about the `proper’ way to talk to God, so he just talked to him, and I think God liked that.

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