I’ve always loved the cheek of bargaining with God in Genesis 18. Abraham is well aware of his creaturely status, but comes back again and again to make his case for a few innocents in Sodom. He’s thinking of Lot, no doubt.
Over the years, I’ve also heard Lot’s wife mentioned on the 17th Ordinary Sunday, cycle C. I just want to exclaim, wth. She’s not in this reading. The Gospel is about persistence in prayer. Jesus reminds those following him in Luke 11 to ask, seek, knock, and to do so at the most inopportune hours of the night. The sin of Sodom is part of the setting of today’s Lectionary. It’s not central to the story. It’s sort of like how some Catholics harp on the “miracle of sharing” as it is sometimes preached.
An old essay of mine is still online here. It recounts my first prayer. Not the Lord’s Prayer. Not get me an A, or a football, or fill my siblings’ beds with spiders. “Arrange things so that my mother will ask me if I want to be baptized.” Simple as that. When my 6th grade Catholic classmates went to Communion, I stayed in the pew and prayed my intention.
The Lord impressed on me power of prayer, as you read from the story of my baptism. I was learning the script with my classmates: catching up with the Lord’s Prayer and the Hail Mary. Memorizing the various acts of virtues and the Morning Offering. But I also learned to go to God with real needs and desires.
Looking back, I think God’s grace was more constant than my listening ear. I missed a lot of signals in high school, college, and young adulthood. I probably miss quite a few still.
Persistent prayer isn’t a game God plays with us, like: for every thousand supplications we are granted one wish. Persistence forms an attitude. Persistence leads to constancy. Constancy defines a relationship with a real person. After time, it becomes less about the asking. I can appreciate knocking on a friend’s door, not for midnight supplies, but for time to talk something over. Do you suppose God appreciates our willingness to just talk, to just be his friend.
And with so much to say about Luke 11, here’s to leaving Lot’s wife as that salt mound in the ancient outskirts of Sodom.