Some time ago I did a study of all the prayers of the Bible (except the Psalms, which would be a study in itself). And they are included in my book, Service of Prayer. I’m going to share a few of those studies with you in this blog. Here is what I found to be Abraham’s first two prayers—but at that time he was Abram.
And he moved from there to the mountain east of Bethel, and he pitched his tent with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; there he built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD.
Here is Abram’s first prayer. The actual words of his prayer are obviously not recorded. The verse simply says, “He built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the LORD.” I would say that Abram’s main thought was to make contact with God and to cry out to Him for help. So he built an altar to the Lord and probably sacrificed an animal on it as he called upon His name.
Some altars at that time were used as symbols or as memorials. Others were built to sacrifice animals for the purpose of propitiation and for prayer. I would say that Abram’s first altar at Shechem (v. 7) served as a symbol of his possession of the land and to honor God who had given him the land. The second altar that he built, further along on his journey (v. 8) was to sacrifice animals and for the purpose of prayer. The first altar was built “to the Lord who had appeared to him.” The second altar was built to the Lord so that he may contact the Lord again. Thus, a sacrifice on the altar was needed in an attempt to atone for his sins making prayer possible.
And he went on his journey from the South as far as Bethel, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, 4 to the place of the altar which he had made there at first. And there Abram called on the name of the LORD.
Sometime after Abram built the altar near bethel and called on the Lord (Genesis 12:8) he journeyed to Egypt because there was a famine in the land. It is apparent by what happened there that he wasn’t fully trusting in the Lord (Read Genesis 12:9-20). But after being kicked out of Egypt (Gen. 12:20), he, along with his wife and Lot, came back to that same altar and was ready to go with God again. There he prepared a sacrifice upon the altar and again called on the name of the Lord. Apparently, after going so long without God’s guidance in Egypt he was eager to meet with God again and commune with Him.