When prayers seemingly go unanswered it can be tempting to stop bringing our requests to the Lord--to stop asking, and even stop believing. But the story of Isaac and Rebekah reminds us to keep praying, trusting in the goodness of God and the wisdom of his timing.
Twenty-six years ago, a young woman named Rebeka went to a doctor with symptoms of endometriosis, a uterine tissue disorder that can make it difficult for women to get pregnant. The doctor confirmed that she did indeed have endometriosis, but they also found something else: cancer. Thankfully, it was caught early, and a procedure was done to remove it. However, the damage caused would make it difficult for her to carry a baby in her womb. Doctors told Rebeka that she would likely not get pregnant, but if she did, there was only a small chance of carrying to term.
About five years later, Rebeka got married and tried getting pregnant, but as expected, there was no baby. The couple longed for a child for months without result, so they went to be prayed over by the elders of the church. That very weekend, she got pregnant. Nine months later, Rebeka gave birth to a healthy baby girl, and twenty years later that girl is honouring her with a devotion about the power of prayer.
My mother’s story is similar to that of another woman who lived thousands of years ago and was also named Rebekah. This Rebekah was also unable to get pregnant and longing for a child. When we meet her in Genesis 25, her husband, Isaac, is praying to the Lord on her behalf (v.21). Isaac knows that God can work miracles. Forty years earlier, the Lord had enabled his barren, elderly mother, Sarah, to give birth to him (Genesis 21:1-7), and he trusts that God will do it again. And He does—Rebekah becomes pregnant as a result of Isaac’s prayer and gives birth to twin boys (Genesis 25:24).
We are finite beings with limited power and limited control over what happens in our lives. But we serve an infinite, all-powerful, sovereign God who listens to our prayers and desires to give us good things (Matthew 7:11; James 1:17). Nothing is impossible with Him, for He is a miracle-working God (Matthew 19:26; Luke 1:37). He commands us to call out to Him about our needs, desires, concerns, and requests (Philippians 4:6). Our prayers change things! As James writes, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16b).
But it doesn’t always seem like it. Sometimes we pray and pray and pray, and nothing happens. However, just because we aren’t seeing the answer we prayed for doesn’t mean we should stop praying. Isaac was forty when he married Rebekah, and he is sixty when she gives birth (Genesis 25:20 & 26). He prays for his wife for twenty years before God finally gives them the children they have so longed for. Even if we’ve been praying for years, we must persist and heed Jesus’ guidance: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7). Prayers that are months, years, or even decades old are still effective and powerful, so we must keep praying!
Just because we pray for something—even if we pray for a very long time—it doesn’t mean we’re guaranteed the results we hope for. But we can trust that God is sovereign, that He has a good plan for each of us (Romans 8:28), and that, as we pray, He will continually change our desires to make them more like His own (Romans 12:2). Rebekah, Isaac, and my parents persisted in their prayers for a child and trusted the Lord’s timing, and their godly, righteous desires were finally met. Whatever is happening in your life, pray, pray, and pray some more. And trust that God knows what is best for you.
Is there anything or anyone that you have stopped praying for? Ask the Holy Spirit to kindle fresh hope to keep contending and spend some time right now praying for that situation.