Promise and Prayer

“This is the account of the family line of Abraham’s son Isaac. Abraham became the father of Isaac, and Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah daughter of Bethuel the Aramean from Paddan Aram and sister of Laban the Aramean. Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was childless. The Lord answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant.”—Genesis 25:19-21 (NIV)

In passages of Scripture like today’s verses that deal with genealogies and family lineage, it can be easy to gloss over them and treat them as background information. Admittedly, there are portions of the Bible which can be difficult to uncover the application for us today—but this isn’t one of them. So, let’s dig in and see what the Lord has to say in this account of Isaac’s family. 

Most of us are familiar with the story of Abraham and Sarah, and how God had promised them a son through whom He would create an entire nation. What’s important about their experience is the fact that Sarah was barren for about thirty years before they saw the fulfillment of God’s promise with the birth of Isaac. Now, we see in Isaac’s story that his wife, Rebekah, was also barren for nearly twenty years. 

It’s important to pause here and rewind for a minute and consider the fact that Isaac was a miracle baby. His parents were way past childbearing age when he was born. So, it’s easy to believe that once Isaac arrived, things would go smoothly for him because he was the embodiment of God’s faithfulness to His Word. However, life doesn’t necessarily get easier even after God comes through for us. 

In fact, not only was Isaac nearly sacrificed on the altar when he was younger, but now he is faced with the same dilemma as his father: How can God establish the nation of Israel if his wife is barren? As commentator David Guzik notes in the Blue Letter Study Bible, “Even the son of promise does not come into the promise easily. It only comes through waiting and prayer.” 

We see this same truth in the Book of Joshua when the Israelites entered the Promised Land where there were still many enemies to fight. In other words, even though we can count on God to fulfill His promises, it doesn’t mean they come without struggle or require patience on our part.

Barnes’ Notes on the Bible points out that Rebekah’s barrenness “drew forth the prayer of Isaac in regard to his wife. The heir of promise was to be a child of prayer, and accordingly when the prayer ascended the fruit of the womb was given.”

The same holds true for us: While we are people of promise, we also need to be people of prayer and wait faithfully for God to answer in His way and His timing. 

DIG: What does Isaac’s family lineage tell us about God and His faithfulness to fulfill His promises?

DISCOVER: Why do you think God allows us to wait and wrestle with difficult circumstances before answering our prayers? What characteristics do you think He wants to produce in you? (Read James 1:2-4 and Romans 5:3-5.)

DO: If you have been waiting on God to answer a prayer—perhaps for a prodigal son or daughter to return home, a marriage to be restored, or like Abraham and Isaac for a child to be born—don’t give up. It may seem like God has forgotten you, but He hasn’t. He sees you and knows your pain. Ask Him to meet you in it and to carry you through until the day He answers. 

About the Author

Rob Nieminen

Rob Nieminen is a seasoned writer and editor who has written devotionals for Calvary since 2015. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, FL. He serves in the Worship Ministry at Calvary Boynton Beach and is an avid reader, an erratic golfer, and an aspiring photographer who loves to cook and spend time with his family.