Key verse: “Because Rebeca had no children, Isaac prayed to the LORD for her. The LORD answered his prayer, and Rebeca became pregnant” (Gen.25:21).
This verse here gives us a clear insight into the relationship between God’s promises and our prayers. This is a totally misunderstood subject as many well meaning believers think that God’s promises will automatically come true. They wait impatiently for God to fulfill His promises and some times even find fault with God for His callousness about His promises.
This verse here tells us the secret about the many unfulfilled promises of God. We know that God promised Abraham seed like the sand of the sea and like the stars of heaven (Gen.22:17). Yet it took quarter of a century before Abraham had the joy of seeing his promised son. There was a time when Abraham was willing to make a compromise and he was willing to accept Ishmael as his heir (Gen.17:18). We can imagine Abraham being fed up with waiting for the son of his promise. And in his conversation (prayer) with the Lord, Abraham was now making a negative suggestion; that he was willing to accept the seed of his flesh as the promised seed! But God would NOT compromise on His promise to Abraham. God said “No” to that suggestion of Abraham and God wanted Abraham to wait patiently for His promise to be fulfilled. We can well imagine Abraham asking God when that glorious day was going to be! Abraham was obviously waiting and praying that God would fulfill His promise soon. And at last Isaac was born as promised by God, in answer to long and patient wait and believing prayers of Abraham.
This truth is confirmed in the incident that followed. Now that Isaac is married, there is yet another problem for the promise to be fulfilled. We are told that Rebeca was barren! It was indeed the least expected thing. But this situation teaches us the fact that the promises of God would not come true in our lives in a natural process. It is absolutely true that God promised seed like the sand of the sea and that not one of the promises will ever fail either. It is also true that God will fulfill all His promises right in time (Acts.7:17). God is faithful and He will surely fulfill His promise with out fail. But the amazing truth is that God fulfills His promises ONLY in answer to the prayers of His people!
All the promises are written down for us in His Word (Rom.1:2) and all promises are for all who believe (Gal.3:22). We are told that the promises of God are to be obtained by faith and patience (Heb.6:12,15). And we are asked to perfect holiness since we have these promises (2Cor.7:1). With all the above, if we do NOT continue in fervent prayers, the promises of God will never come true in our lives. This truth is expressed through out the scriptures and we need to take heed to it to see that we obtain the promises of God in our lives.
Let us look at the life of Jacob as a clear example of this truth exemplified for us. Jacob comes to Bethel and there he receives the promises of God (Gen.28:10-22). Then in the life of Jacob there was that long gap of twenty years where he seeks all short cuts to make His life a blessing. But alas! Twenty years later, though he became a big number physically, yet he was more a miserable person than ever before. But at Peniel he wrestles the whole night and there he became the heir of his promises. His name was changed and he became a new person altogether. We see that though he got promises at Bethel, only after his Peniel experience, the promises got fulfilled in his life.
From Dan. 9:2-3 we learn that Daniel knew this truth as well. When Daniel learnt that the captivity was going to be for seventy years, knowing that he was living at the time when the promise is to be fulfilled, he turns to God in prayer and in supplication. And God reveals to Daniel the mystery behind seventy year captivity. In that most solemn passage of Scripture we have the exact date of the crucifixion of our Lord predicted (Dan.9:26)! Daniel was able to get that truth because he was willing to spend time praying that God would indeed fulfill His promise made by His prophet.
We often wonder why God is slack in fulfilling His many wonderful promises of His Precious Word. Once we get the grip of this truth, we know the real reason for this situation. It is not God rather we, His people, who are responsible for God’s promises not being fulfilled.
Does that mean that God’s promises will never come true in its appointed time? Read what the Lord says about His promises. ”The LORD gave me this answer: “Write down clearly on tablets what I reveal to you, so that it can be read at a glance. Put it in writing, because it is not yet time for it to come true. But the time is coming quickly, and what I show you will come true. It may seem slow in coming, but wait for it; it will certainly take place, and it will not be delayed” (Hab.2-3). And to Jeremiah the Lord said, “‘You are right’, the LORD said, ‘and I am watching to see that my words come true’” (Jer.1:12).
Surely God will fulfill all His promises in time with out fail. But because He does it ONLY in answer to prayers of His people, unless we pray, God will raise others who will pray and in answer to their prayers God will fulfill His promises in time! We can see this truth exemplified in history of the church again and again. Where ever there was a praying church, there was a mighty movement of the Spirit of God. If ever there was slackness in the Lord’s work, it is because the people of God failed to call on Him in prevailing prayers. Also we can see that before God begins to do a mighty work, He gets His people praying. Zechariah the prophet sees that in future there is going to be a mighty turning of the people of Israel to God. And before that happens the prophet says that God would pour on them the spirit of grace and supplication (Zech.12:10ff).
So, if there is an urge within us to pray, it is an indication that God’s grace is at work within us. When we feel an urge to pray let us put aside every thing else and be at His feet discerning His will and praying that He would accomplish His will for His glory. If we fail to do that, God will raise others who will pray and in answer to their prayers He will fulfill His promises. And we will be the ones who are the losers. We would have lost the privilege of being co-workers with the Almighty in bringing about His purposes on earth! May we be sensitive to the call of the Spirit of God and may we bring glory to His Holy Name by seeing that all His promises are fulfilled for His glory.
The Bible ends with last the promise of our Lord and John’s response to that promise in Rev.22:20. May we also make it our prayer as we wait for His coming in these very last days of the age of grace.
Let us always remember that the key to get a positive answer to our prayers is to take hold of the promise of God and make it our prayer. Once we know some thing is the will of God, we need to pray in perseverance till we receive our answer. May the Lord give us grace and may His name be glorified. Amen.