When my children were small, I was often amazed at their confidence in me. While they were sure I could fix any broken thing they put in my hands, I knew that I couldn’t. God is a different matter. If the world were not broken, we would not need to pray. Prayer is needed because we will always face circumstances that go beyond our ability. The good news is that, unlike a human parent, God has the power to fix it.
The first explicit mention of prayer in the Bible does not come until sin had made its first serious inroads into human experience. In Genesis 4, we read that Cain murdered Abel and was sentenced to a life of restless wandering. Cain’s descendant Lamech became a polygamist (v. 19). Lamech’s boast in verse 23 suggests he had a violent nature. “Lamech’s short poem demonstrates the progress and magnification of sin among humans,” Old Testament commentator Andrew Steinmann observes.
Yet the news is not all bad. We see God’s common grace at work as Lamech’s son Jabal becomes the first to live in tents and raise livestock, and his brother Jubal is the first to play stringed instruments and pipes (vv. 20–21). Both were born of Lamech’s wife, Adah. Lamech’s other wife, Zillah, gave birth to Tubal-Cain, “who forged all kinds of tools out of bronze and iron” (v. 22).
However, the most important cultural development came after Eve gave birth to “another child in place of Abel, since Cain killed him” (v. 25). Seth became the father of Enosh, and “at that time people began to call on the name of the LORD” (v. 26).
>> As sin and the damage resulting from it spread, we see people divide into two basic categories. One group did not know God. The other called upon God by name. If we divided up the world today, to which group would you belong?
We call upon Your name, God—for provision, guidance, faith, and every good thing. You who have known humankind exhaustively from the beginning still love and care for us. For this we thank You!