Abraham’s conversation with the Lord is a beautiful example of what prayer is all about.
Prayer is standing humble before God. It is acknowledging who we are and where we have been.
Abraham is mustering enough courage to argue with, or plead with the Lord, to relent from the impending punishment he was going to bring about. And when we realize that he is doing this not for himself, but for others, we understand the extent of his humility.
Abraham knows who he is, and the path that he has travelled in his reaching the place of closeness with God. He knows he has had his share of failures, doubts and revolts in his life when it comes to his trust in God. And yet he has grown through all of it and has reached the point of winning God’s favor. He stands in good stead, when it comes to following God, but it is others that he is worried about, concerned about.
Abraham knows that just as he has had his trials and failures in following God, the people who are about to be punished may also have had theirs, and are found to be wanting. He does not look at them with contempt, springing out of a false sense of righteousness. He was indeed a just man, but that did not make him contemptuous, but only made him that much more humble. He plead their case with great concern, and God relents.
Prayer is standing humble before God, as I mentioned earlier. Abraham does exactly that. The very fact that he is not asking the Lord to punish them, shows that he is not judging them.
This non-judgmental attitude is the result of his awareness of his own sinfulness. What we require in prayer is this simplicity and humility as a result of self-awareness.
Every time we pray that others be punished, we are having a false sense of righteousness, every time we judge others, we become self-righteous. Prayer has to make us aware of our own unworthiness, it has to help us acquire a bit of that compassionate heart of God. Prayer therefore, is to stand humble before God, acknowledging our need for conversion, rather than look on others with contempt.
Thus every time we show compassion, we are praying; a sort of prayer in action!