Did you know you can negotiate with God?
The sensitive, 5th-grade version of me feels nervous writing this. But, the Scriptures make it clear: humans have bargained, pleaded with, and changed the mind of God since the beginning of time.
In one of the first stories of humankind, we see a man named Cain telling God, “My punishment is too great to bear!” God head Cain’s cry, changed His mind, and made the punishment less severe (Genesis 4: 8–15).
It’s a good thing Cain negotiated with God!
Then, there is my favorite negotiation story. The Lord tells Abraham he is going to destroy the “exceedingly evil” cities, Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham is apparently aware of how disgustingly immoral (think rape and sexual abuse) the cities are, but his nephew Lot lives there. So, he starts this hilarious bargaining conversation with God. I literally giggle every time I read this story. (See Genesis 18:17–33 for a good laugh.)
It reminds me of a conversation my son had this week. He wanted to work out at a gym for the day, but the lady at 24 Hour Fitness said it would cost $25. He laughed at that price, so she offered him the deal of $30 for the month. He is only visiting for the holidays, so that was a bum deal. He said, “I just want a day pass. How about $5?” She shuffled and mumbled and came back with $15 being the lowest she could go. “How about $10?” he bargained. She insisted $15 was still the lowest price. So, he said thank you and left. Ha!
This is actually not like the Lord at all. Abraham kept negotiating lower with the Lord, and the Lord kept agreeing! He talked God down from 50 people to 10! If only 10 righteous people were found in the city, God would not destroy it. God continued to consent and change his mind about the first, high price of everyone in Sodom and Gomorrah being destroyed. Unfortunately, there were not even 10 righteous people. But, we gotta give Abraham props for trying! His angels did still save Lot and his family — only 4 people — because Abraham asked.
Good thing Abraham negotiated with God. Otherwise, Lot and his daughters would have been killed.
Apparently, Lot learned some skills from his uncle. The angels litteraly grabbed his hands and dragged him from the destruction, and then told him to run to the mountains. Lot asked the angels if he could flee to a small city and not have to live in a cave in the mountains (picky!). The angel agreed.
It’s a good thing Lot negotiated with God’s angel, or he might not have made it out of the destruction.
So, what can we learn?
Lesson 1: God’s mind can be changed.
Lesson 2: We need to ask God to do something different if we want Him to.
Lesson 3: God is full of compassion and mercy and will often relent to our requests for justice.
Lesson 4: Keep asking! Go “lower.” Ask for MORE justice and mercy.
Lesson 5: YOU can change God’s mind.
Unlike the lady at 24 Hour Fitness, God wants you to get the best deal. He wants you to receive the most justice and mercy possible. God showed us that clearly in Jesus. So, try bargaining with God today and listen for an answer. Even if you don’t get exactly what you want, you might be surprised by the conversations with God you have.