"And when her (Rebekah) days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb… and Isaac was threescore years old when she (Rebekah) bare them."
Genesis 25: 24, 26
King James Version
The Answer to Isaac and Rebekah's Prayers
"God will either give you what you ask, or something far better."
Robert Murray M'Cheyne
What in my life am I still praying for and waiting for God's answer to my prayer request?
"Beware in your prayers, above everything else, of limiting God, not only by unbelief, but by fancying that you know what He can do. Expect unexpected things, 'above all that we ask or think.' Each time, before you intercede, be quiet first, and worship God in His glory. Think of what He can do, and how He delights to hear the prayers of His people. Think of your place and privilege in Christ, and expect great things!"
"For every one that asketh receiveth; and (she) that seeketh findeth…."
Matthew 7: 8
King James Version
For twenty years they prayed. They wanted a baby. They longed for a baby. They had been promised a baby. But no baby came. After the first year, they waited. But they didn't wait in silence. Isaac and Rebekah talked to God about their longing. They laid before Him their desire to have a child.
After year two they still prayed. And they didn't give up after year five or ten or fifteen. Rebekah and Isaac prayed as Abraham of Nathpar advises us: "If God is slow in answering your request, and you ask but do not promptly receive anything, do not be upset, for you are not wiser than God."
This is exactly what Rebekah and Isaac learned from Abraham and Sarah. So they didn't give up, and in twenty years – that's right – two decades, their prayer was answered, and not with just one baby but two!
So often, in our own prayer lives, we make two big mistakes.
Mistake #1: We are impatient because our prayer isn't answered in the time line we have designed. Like a child we stamp our feet saying, "I want this now!" I like what Harry Fosdick said: "God is not a cosmic bell-boy for whom we can press a button to get things." It's not like I punch a button and say, "Now, God!" Even if, as in the lives of Isaac and Rebekah, we feel we are waiting in the dark and for a long time, we can "reconcile (ourselves) to wait in this darkness as long as is necessary." All the while seeking Him whose answer we long for.
Mistake #2: We are unhappy because we don't get the specific answer we want to our prayer. I think we can all recall times when we felt we didn't receive the answer we wanted to our prayer. I know that my mother, riding in a police car behind an ambulance speeding to the closest hospital with my dad fighting for his life, was praying over and over again that my dad would survive the heart attack that had struck him down. But even with the best medical care and over an hour of doctors trying everything possible, my father died. You could say my mother's prayer was not answered. However, over time, she had the courage and strength from heaven to believe that "God in His great mercy decides what is best for each one." It takes a lot of faith to believe God does what is best for us, especially in our most devastating moments. Jeanne Guyon points out that we should not, "Turn to prayer hoping to enjoy spiritual delights; rather come to prayer totally content to receive nothing or to receive great blessing from God's hand, whichever should be your heavenly Father's will for you at that time." I happen to agree with the words penned by Hannah More: "Did not God, sometimes withhold in mercy what we ask, we should be ruined at our own request."
Rebekah and Isaac waited, persisted and relied on God's timing and God's plan – and their prayer was answered.
May we learn to persist in our prayers – even if we wait for 20 years or more. And may we, while living within God's timing also rely on God's view of what is best for our lives.
"God often gives in one brief moment that which He has for a long time denied."
Thomas á Kempis
"I asked for Peace-
My sins arose,
And bound me close,
I could not find release.
I asked for Truth –
My doubts came in,
And with their din
They wearied all my youth.
I asked for Love –
My lovers failed,
And griefs assailed
Around, beneath, above.
I asked for Thee-
And Thou didst come
To take me home
Within Thy heart to be."