The AMI QT Devotionals from December 4-10 are written by Andy Kim. Andy, a graduate of Northwestern University and Fuller Theological Seminary (M.Div.) currently serves as a staff at Radiance Christian Church in San Francisco. And this past November Andy got married . . . to Jane. Congratulations.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
These are the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham fathered Isaac, 20 and Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, the sister of Laban the Aramean, to be his wife. 21 And Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife, because she was barren. And the Lord granted his prayer, and Rebekah his wife conceived.
Over Thanksgiving, we laughed over past memories of my silly childhood and one stood out in particular. My mom would take me to prayer meetings and leave me in the back with the other kids to run around. In one service, the pastor went around praying and laying hands on the heads of the people. The next morning while my mom was praying, she suddenly felt a hand on her head. She had thought it was Jesus! But when she looked up, she was shocked to see her four-year-old son passionately jerking her head yelling gibberish! For many of us, we’ve learned to pray ever since we were young. But over time, such learned prayers can become repetitive and mundane. The danger is that these once faith-driven prayers can become mere afterthoughts.
Our passage today shows a familiar story for Isaac and us. Surely Abraham had told his son the stories of his miraculous birth and the incredible journey of faith God had taken them on. Except this time it was no longer just a story; it was now Isaac’s reality. Like his parents, Isaac and Rebekah were barren. And our passage clearly tells us that Isaac responds in prayer. A prayer that persevered for 20 years until the age of 60, where the Lord finally “grants his prayer.” There is no mention of another Ishmael incident or Isaac taking matters into his own hands. Perhaps Isaac thought that if God could give my 100-year-old parents a child, then surely he would deliver me. If the covenant between God and his father (something he probably had heard all of his life) were true, then God would be faithful to him and Rebekah. And so, Isaac prayed for a child and 20 years later God had finally answered his prayer.
In times of waiting, we are easily tempted to act on our own. Sometimes praying may seem ineffective especially when answers seem delayed and distant. As a result, our focus becomes fixated on the outcome of our prayers and we lose sight of the one we are praying to. But as Eugene Peterson says, “waiting in prayer is a disciplined refusal to act before God acts.” Prayer is our way of trusting that the Lord will move in His perfect way and timing even in the most impossible situations. May prayer always be our first and last response. Whether it is your career or your family, may we learn to pray unceasingly regardless of the outcome. Let us restore our belief in the power of prayer this day.
Prayer: Father, we confess that often times we focus more on the things You can do for us rather than in who You are. Help us to remember that You are God, who is faithful and knows what’s best for us. Give us the strength in our prayers to trust that You will move in your perfect timing and way.
Bible Reading for Today: Jeremiah 38
Lunch Break Study
Read Luke 18:1-8: And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. 2 He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. 3 And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ 4 For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” 6 And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. 7 And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8 I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
Questions to Consider
- Why does the judge give into the woman’s plea?
- What does this parable say about the character of God? Why is prayer important?
- Is there a prayer that you have stopped praying because of the lack of fruit? May this persistent widow’s heart encourage you to pray for that person or situation once again.
- Surprisingly, the judge listens to the woman’s plea because of her persistence. Rather than looking at the situation and judging the situation at hand, the judge is moved by the woman’s persistent heart. In the same way, God looks at the heart of the persistent prayer more than the circumstance. But unlike the judge who doesn’t care, God is a judge who does care and will answer the cries of his people.
- The context of the parable comes right after Jesus teaches on the coming of the Kingdom of God. In essence Jesus is saying that people will be come desensitized to God’s kingdom. John Piper said, “the good things in life can make us just as insensitive to the reality of God as the gross things in life can.” And so, Jesus is teaching his disciple that persistent prayer is what prevents us from losing heart and keeps us sensitive to the things of God.
- Personal Response.
C.S. Lewis has shaped and touched the minds of many through his works. But what is not often told is the difficult and tragic personal life he lived, particularly the story of his wife Joy Gresham. After meeting later in their years, tragedy strikes as Joy is diagnosed with cancer right before they are to marry. This touching story was later created into a movie where one of Lewis’ friends tries to reassure his persistent prayers for the hopeless situation of his wife. To this Lewis replies, “That’s not why I pray, Harry. I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God, it changes me.”
May this be a good reminder for us this evening. It is not wrong to expect God to move in our prayers. However, may our prayers tonight be more than a list of requests; but an expectation for us to be changed first. May we ask God to give us eyes to see whatever situation or circumstance through His eyes, to see that He has a far greater plan than we could ever imagine.