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Isaac Intreated The Lord

"And Isaac intreated the LORD for his wife, because she was barren: and the LORD was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived." (Genesis 25:21)

As Sarah before her, Rebekah was barren and unable to conceive a child. But there is a remarkable distinction between Abraham’s response to Sarah’s infertility and Isaac’s response to Rebekah’s infertility. Back in Genesis 16 we read about Sarah’s scheme to employ her handmaiden, Hagar, as a surrogate through which Abraham could produce offspring for their family:

“And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai.” (Genesis 16:2)

But what did Isaac do when his wife was unable to conceive? He went to the Lord in prayer. We know that Abraham was a great man of faith, so we naturally assume that he had prayed and petitioned God about his wife’s barrenness a great deal before resorting to the plan of using Hagar to bear a son. But perhaps we assume too much. We see in Genesis 15:2-3 that Abraham asked God about who his heir would be, but we do not see him asking God to give him a son by Sarah. Would this have made any difference in the time frame in which his son would be born? Only God knows. But we do know that it pleases the Lord when we specifically ask Him for those things which we desire.

How often do we neglect to ask the Lord for those things which we desire? We go about our daily lives without pausing to take the time to petition the Lord for those things of which we are in need. We know that of a certain God is not ignorant of those things which we need and desire, although we are also aware that He delights in our taking the time to acknowledge those needs to Him. And so we forgo the formality of bringing our requests to Him in prayer and hope that He will grant them anyway. It seems such a simple point to remember, but so often we overlook it. James penned a timeless axiom in regard to this reason for unmet needs:

“…ye have not, because ye ask not” (James 4:2)

Who can know but God what heartache, what suffering, what needless pain that Isaac avoided by going straight to the Lord in prayer when he and Rebekah were unable to conceive? Unlike his parents before him, Isaac did not seek to take matters into his own hands. We learned in the life of Abraham that God can cause His will to come to pass regardless of our own failures and frailties. Abraham’s mistake of going to Hagar in order to conceive a son in no way frustrated the plan of God to bring about a line of descendants through Isaac, a line through which the Lord Jesus Christ Himself would ultimately come. But at what cost was this mistake to Abraham? At what cost to his descendants? To this day, the sons of Ishmael (the Arabs) afflict the sons of Isaac (the Jews) and there is a never ending strife between them.

Without any doubt Abraham must have surely told Isaac of all that God had promised him. He must have related to him many times how a multitude of descendants would come from them and that their seed would be too vast to number. Yet when Rebekah was unable to conceive, Isaac did not sit idly by, supposing that his petition to the Lord was unnecessary. No, he took his request to God and intreated Him for her. What a great reminder that we should do the same.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6 ESV)

*English Standard Version (ESV)The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

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8 responses

  1. Thank you Loren, for teaching us again. :) I love how God works and through these words reminds me to come to Him with my needs. I get used to taking others needs to Him, then forget that He is wanting to hear about my needs that day too. I needed to hear this, to remember that it’s important and not selfish, in order to maintain that intimacy with Him. Thank you soooo much . . .and have a great day! deb

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  2. Well said Loren. I sometimes find myself “going it alone” and not asking God to guide me during prayer. I suppose my human mind still has trouble perceiving a God who is so loving and attentive to our needs. Or maybe I am just lazy at times. I do appreciate your post. May God continue to bless you.

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  3. Thanks, Deb, great points!

    I really needed to remind myself of this, too. Somehow we seem to feel like we are being selfish when we ask for the things that we need, but Jesus said: “Ask and ye shall receive.” I always have the tendency to think that, since God already knows what things I am in need of, why take the time to specifically ask? But like you mentioned, it helps to maintain our intimacy with Him and reminds us of Who it is that we have placed our trust.

    Awesome comments, Deb, thanks :)

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  4. Thanks, PaulFan, great observations.

    I think a lot of us tend to forget asking God to guide our prayers and bring to our remembrance those things which we ought to pray about. We believe that we will just automatically include everything on our own. But I believe that the very first part of any prayer should be: “Lord, show me what You would have me pray.” I think you’re right — sometimes we feel that the details are just too insignificant or mundane, sometimes pride rears its ugly head and we feel that we can work a certain situation out on our own, so why bother Him with it? And, like you said, sometimes we are just too rushed or lazy to take the time to really yield to His guidance in our prayer life.

    Great comments, thanks again :)

    “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit [Himself] maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” (Rom. 8:26)

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  5. Loren,
    I visited your blog for the first time today thanks to Debbie who has listed you on her blogroll. I praise God for the number of faithful servants he has placed on the online space to share the gospel truths and I am really blessed by your message today. Often enough in my life, I’m an Abraham in that I am a doer and not an asker like Isaac. This message is very pertinent to my present situation and I thank you for revealing something so basic, yet easily forgotten to us. Bless you and yours,
    Vineet

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  6. Thanks, Vineet, for the kind words. It is truly awesome how God is moving and getting the Gospel out Online :)

    I am honored that you visited this site and I praise our Lord that this message was a blessing to you. May God bless you.

    In Christ,

    Loren

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  7. Great thought. I have no idea how many times I have read the book of Genesis and never put those two together. I will admit that I am very often guilty of “trying to take things into my own hands” while not praying about them as I should. You closed with a perfect verse: “In everything…” Really working to pray about everything is something that I believe in my head but need to work on getting into my heart. Thanks for the reminder.
    God bless,
    Ben

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  8. I’m afraid that I react more like Abraham a lot of the time, rather than Isaac. I sometimes tend to think of prayer as a sort of last resort after all else fails. But God wants us to come to Him first. This passage was a great reminder for me to bring everything to Him in prayer. I, too, need to get it firmly in my heart and not just in my head.

    Thanks for the excellent comments, Ben, God bless you!

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