You Promised

Posted by on Jul 15, 2014 in Faith Words |

Words of Faith

Rev. Rita S. Platt

July 13, 2014

“You Promised”

Scripture Reading: Genesis 25:19-34

What kinds of things do you pray for? Only the impossible stuff? Things over which you have absolutely no control? What about requests that are “safe”?

The things we pray for are usually influenced by our views on what’s actually happening during prayer. Why do we pray? To change God’s mind, to get results from heaven, or to grow in our faith and get closer to God?

Let’s go deeper…

Genesis 25:19-34 tells us the familiar story of Jacob and Esau, the fraternal twins who were such opposites that they didn’t even get along in the womb. Nothing about their lives was smooth sailing, even their conceptions.

Isaac didn’t get married until he was 40, and at some point it became apparent that Rebekah was having trouble getting pregnant. God had already promised Isaac’s father Abraham that he would have more descendants than there were stars in the sky or grains of sand on the beach. And Isaac, no doubt, knew that God’s promise was going to be fulfilled through him. I’m not sure whether Isaac thought the pressure was on him or on God to make sure the promise was fulfilled, but he apparently decided he was going to do more than just sit on his duff and wait.

Isaac knew better than to try to “help God out” by getting a female slave to have his child. (It probably took Sarah and Abraham a while to live down that little episode.) So Isaac did what we often do when things are beyond our ability. He prayed.

“Isaac prayed to the LORD for his wife, since she was unable to have children. The LORD was moved by his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant.” (Genesis 25:21 CEB)

We aren’t given every detail here.  We know that he and Rebekah had been childless for a long time. But we don’t know when Isaac started praying or how many times he had to pray before God took action. All we know for sure is that Isaac’s intercession moved God and brought fulfillment of the promise.

Isaac wasn’t just praying in vain – this passage portrays his prayers as pivotal. He knew what God had promised and still he prayed anyway. This is part of a seemingly paradoxical pattern in the Bible where God makes a promise but requires the beneficiary in some way to take possession of what’s promised.

Now I want to make sure we understand what the story does not say: it does not say if you pray hard enough you will have child; if you don’t get pregnant it’s because you didn’t pray hard enough. In biblical times not having a child was seen as you were cursed by God; today we understand there are medical reasons for infertility.  Often those couples pray long and hard, but they don’t get pregnant.

This story is about God’s heart being touched by Isaac’s prayer.

There’s a supposedly true story of a Welsh woman who lived in a remote valley in Wales. She went to a great deal of trouble and expense to have electrical power installed in her home. However, after a couple of months, the electric company noticed she didn’t seem to use very much electricity at all.  Thinking there might be a problem with the hookup, they sent a meter reader out to check on the matter. The man came to the door and said, “We’ve just checked your meter and it doesn’t seem that you’re using much electricity. Is there a problem?” “Oh no,” she said. “We’re quite satisfied. We turn on the electric lights every night to see how to light our lamps and then we switch them off again.”

Why didn’t this woman make more use of her electricity? She believed in electricity. She believed the promises of the electric company when they told her about it. She went to a great deal of trouble and expense to have her house wired for it BUT – she didn’t understand the potential of electricity in her home. AND SO, she used it’s power sparingly. I think sometimes  we think of prayer in the same way. We believe in prayer; we know of the promises God has made; we’ve even read and heard stories about answered prayers BUT we don’t use prayer to its full potential…

Another disclaimer: we can’t presume that we’ll get everything we want when we pray, but we also can’t take for granted that the will of God will be done automatically if we don’t pray.

The heart of God is touched by people who remember the promises God has made – people who aren’t afraid to remind God.

My granddaughter Savannah turned 16 in April – a big birthday. Her mom let her stay home from school..spend the day with her mom..go out to lunch.

Kyleigh will be 8 in October..she asked her mom if she could stay home from school on her birthday…her mom said yes. I told Melody she better write it on the calendar, because Kyleigh will remember. If Melody would happen to forget I am sure Kyleigh would say something like, “But mom, you promised.”

Our loving parent is touched

-when we remember those promises…”I will never leave you…I’ll never give you more    than you can handle..I will provide for all your needs.”

-when our prayers are a time of reminding God and ourselves the promises God has        made to us.

-when we trust God to fulfill each one, so we keep doing it as long as it takes.

Then we are using the power of prayer to its fullest potential.

Some persons here today might be feeling that God has forgotten some promises because you don’t see them being fulfilled. Those promises might be for yourself but they could also be for someone close to you..for the things you see happening  in the church..in the world.

I am going to ask you today to use this time of prayer to tell God about it. I invite you to begin by saying “You promised.”