And Ishmael? Yes, I heard your prayer for him. I’ll also bless him; I’ll make sure he has plenty of children – a huge family. He’ll father twelve princes; I’ll make him a great nation. Genesis 17:20
I LOVE this passage from the first book of the Christian Bible! It points out what we in the community of believers know, but many of our unsaved loved ones and friends have yet to discover–our God is infinitely gracious! Not only did God answer Abraham’s prayer for his son, Isaac, from whose loins a great nation would grow and flourish, but he also honored Abraham’s hope and prayer for his son, Ishmael, who had been driven from the homestead and left for dead after Abraham’s lawful wife, Sarah, gave birth to a son at an advanced age. Right, God was, to provide that blessing. For it was not Ishmael’s fault that he was born to the handmaiden of his master’s wife. It wasn’t his fault that he was denied the right of the first born, which went to Isaac. Others made decisions that Ishmael had nothing to do with and no power to change. He was forced to live with those decisions, like it or not. How awesome is it than that in this pitiful state Ishmael was remembered by God?
Sometimes, as we face a world divided and warring, we lose hope that anything can be done for the Ishmaels around us. We see families falling apart, children being aborted, father’s in jail or dead, mother’s working two jobs just to make ends meet and we wonder, has God forgotten the lost Ishmaels? Has he turned His face away from the abused ones? Has He grown insensitive? Has his interest strayed to others things, leaving us to fix our broken lives and mend our shattered homes alone? If God is not willing, we wonder, how will the situation change; how can it change?
PRAYER CHANGES THINGS!
Prayer changes hearts. Prayer heals marriages. Prayer recovers financial disasters. Prayer softens the blow. Prayer brings insight we never could have possessed on our own. Prayer lessens burdens. Prayer binds up wounds. Prayer brings unity. Prayer saves the Ishmaels of this world and gives them a fighting chance. In some cases, the only chance they have ever had.
We pray because God commands it of his children, and because prayer facilitates and foreshadows change.
I cannot overemphasize the importance of prayer in moving the hand of God! People, the lost are everywhere. Ishmaels are all around us; we need only open our eyes to see them. And we need only reflect upon the lost for a moment to remember that we are God’s feet in this place. We are His hands. We are His heart longing to save a dying world. We can make a difference. Together, we can do what we could never do alone. Through prayer and God’s power, we can! The only question left to answer is, will we?
Today, say YES to God. Then get moving, remembering, Prayer Changes Things!