I confess that my morning devotionals are usually Word-heavy; if I can confess a weak link, it will be in the area of prayer. I don’t pray like I should. If I am going to short-change the balance between reading God’s Word and prayer, I’ll short-change prayer every time. It wasn’t always like that, though. When I was fighting cancer, I prayed quite diligently—and frequently. In times of crisis, I was constantly reminded of my powerlessness to rectify the situation, and I had to rely on the One Who could. Now that that crisis is past, on some level I have talked myself into believing that my spiritual growth and provision comes at my own hands: my ability to translate, study, interpret, and write about His word. I am out of balance. I need more prayer in my life.
In today’s readings, Abraham takes a second wife, has some more children, and dies. His property and blessing are transferred to Isaac, and the narrator lets us know what happened to Ishmael and his descendants. Then, the story seamlessly moves to the next generation of the promise of God: Isaac and Rebekah. Perhaps Isaac remembered, from having watched his father, that God answers prayer. He knew in Whom he was to place his faith. Like his father before him, Isaac faced a significant issue: his wife was barren. At this time in history, there was undoubtedly all kinds of holistic hippie medicine ideas to help with this problem. There were other gods to pray to, and other cultural paradigms that might have addressed it. But Isaac placed his faith in the One he remembered provided: perhaps the memory of the provided ram in his own place when he was a young lad was emblazoned in his consciousness. That was the day he had learned that יִרְאֶ֑ה יְהוָ֣ה–the LORD provides. And so he did what he had undoubtedly seen his father do on multiple occasions in his own life: he “entreated” (עָתַר—to pray or supplicate) the LORD—he prayed. He knew he was powerless to change this situation, but he knew Who could do it. God answered Isaac’s prayer—He responded to his faith—and the next verse sees his wife dealing with her own issue. She is having twins, and the babies are struggling mightily with her. Troubled by this, she also has a wide array of options available to her in the Near Eastern culture—options that likely are still around in New Age hippie culture today. But rather than “cover all her bases,” Rebekah also goes straight to the one solution to all problems: she “went to inquire of the LORD” (25.22). God answers her, as well. So in this section, we see that both husband and wife have placed their faith in YHWH, as had Abraham and Sarah before them. We might also notice that God’s promise is continuing to be fulfilled—and that He does so through supernatural means in times of His choosing. He elects the younger ahead of the older for the conduit of His promises (Jacob over Esau). He is divine, and His choices are the right choices. But He still hears and answers prayer.
It seems almost counterintuitive any more to say “God answers prayer.” On the one hand, we sort of “know” this. That’s why we pray. On the other hand, we often don’t really believe this. That’s why we don’t pray more and harder. But halfway through this incredible narrative of the book of Genesis, if there is one thing we can say we’ve learned about YHWH, it is that He is a self-disclosing God Who wants you to know him and definitely listens to your prayers. He provides for your needs—all of them: financial, sexual, intellectual, professional, emotional, physical. He knows you, knows your future, and completely takes care of you. And He loves it when you invest time in getting to know Him. He likes it when you talk to Him. He is fond of the time you spend together, and is happy to speak to you through His word and the community of His saints. His promises are generally fulfilled through moments of adversity or impossibility: times when you know good and well that there is no other explanation for your blessing other than יִרְאֶ֑ה יְהוָ֣ה–the LORD provides.
So spend time praying today. Talk to your heavenly Father. He likes hearing from you. He takes care of you, and will do so all of your days. You think YOU love your loved ones? Not even a fraction of how much He loves them. Trust Him with them. Pray vigorously and often today.