…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. And Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife, because she was barren. And the Lord granted his prayer, and Rebekah his wife conceived… When her days to give birth were completed, behold, there were twins in her womb. The first came out red, all his body like a hairy cloak, so they called his name Esau. Afterward his brother came out with his hand holding Esau’s heel, so his name was called Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.
I am not a patient person.
The abundance of instant access technology has not fixed things for me either.
It’s no wonder then that I feel so little connection to the passage above. In Genesis 26, Isaac prays for his wife for 20 years before she bears him any children. That’s two thirds of my lifetime; much, much longer than I have persistently prayed for anything.
I want instant gratification. I want my food right away. I want my streaming videos loading at break-neck speeds. I want to get to where I’m going faster than I did last time. I want my Christmas presents now. I want to know whether my new baby is a boy or a girl well before I meet them.
I do not pray persistently because I do not live with patience and faith. It’s something of a Christian cliché to say that God’s timing is not our own, but it’s also very true. God is love, and love is always patient (That’s in the Bible somewhere). He works and moves outside of the confines of time, while we are bound by its power. This means that He has already worked out every detail of our lives and is waiting patiently for us to experience them. We are told to wait on the Lord, not because He’s catching up to us, but because we don’t know his plans, His timing, or his ways.
Impatiently thinking that all our problems and troubles will be instantaneously fixed is naive. Isaac’s example challenges us to think of things as happening in God’s scope of time. To pray consistently and persistently for years on end displays a faith in God’s power and a surrendering of our imperfect desires.
This is not to say that God does not answer prayers quickly. He often does. But He also has a long view of our lives. Very long. like, eternity long. And when we can bring our perspective in line with his, we will experience the joy of God’s power displayed in our lives through our persistent and faithful prayers.