The Mystery of Prayer

by Lois Tverberg & Bruce Okkema

Now return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not return her, you may be sure that you and all yours will die. Genesis 20:7

The story above occurs while Abraham was living in Gerar, the land of King Abimelech. When the king’s eyes fell upon Sarah, he desired her and took her to be one of his wives. But before they had become intimate, God spoke to Abimelech in a dream and said that he was in great danger of Gods’ judgment because he had taken another man’s wife. Abimelech protested, claiming his innocence in that he had not known that she was a married woman. God told him because this was true, he was warning the king so he wouldn’t suffer for his offense.

One fascinating aspect of the story is that God told Abimelech that when Abraham would pray for the king, he would live. The implication is that God would wait to spare Abimelech until after Abraham had interceded. It seems like very odd logic that God himself would not release the king until Abraham prayed! We have a similar story at the end of book of Job. God was angry with Job’s counselors and said to them,

“I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has… My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. (Job 42:7-8)

Does it strike you as strange that God would bind himself to waiting on a person’s prayers? He even tells us to pray for someone else so that he can take action. The sins in these situations have been committed against both God and man, yet could it be that God desires forgiveness between his people so much, that he asks for evidence of their forgiveness before he shows his own?

It is a mystery to us that God in some way constrains himself to working in response to prayer. Why the creator would wait for mankind to ask, when he knows the outcome and certainly does not need our advice, is beyond our understanding. Yet, he wants us to pray, and we can conclude that he is waiting for us to pray in order to accomplish his purposes.

Let us continue to pray faithfully, and let us never cease to wonder at his mystery.

The Mystery of Prayer

by Lois Tverberg & Bruce Okkema

Now return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not return her, you may be sure that you and all yours will die. Genesis 20:7

The story above occurs while Abraham was living in Gerar, the land of King Abimelech. When the king’s eyes fell upon Sarah, he desired her and took her to be one of his wives. But before they had become intimate, God spoke to Abimelech in a dream and said that he was in great danger of Gods’ judgment because he had taken another man’s wife. Abimelech protested, claiming his innocence in that he had not known that she was a married woman. God told him because this was true, he was warning the king so he wouldn’t suffer for his offense.

Praying handsOne fascinating aspect of the story is that God told Abimelech that when Abraham would pray for the king, he would live. The implication is that God would wait to spare Abimelech until after Abraham had interceded. It seems like very odd logic that God himself would not release the king until Abraham prayed! We have a similar story at the end of book of Job. God was angry with Job’s counselors and said to them,

I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has… My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. (Job 42:7-8)

Does it strike you as strange that God would bind himself to waiting on a person’s prayers? He even tells us to pray for someone else so that he can take action. The sins in these situations have been committed against both God and man, yet could it be that God desires forgiveness between his people so much, that he asks for evidence of their forgiveness before he shows his own?

It is a mystery to us that God in some way constrains himself to working in response to prayer. Why the creator would wait for mankind to ask, when he knows the outcome and certainly does not need our advice, is beyond our understanding. Yet, he wants us to pray, and we can conclude that he is waiting for us to pray in order to accomplish his purposes.

Let us continue to pray faithfully, and let us never cease to wonder at his mystery.


Photocred: jill, jellidonut… whatever

Protection in Spite of Ourselves

Abraham and Sarah

by Bruce Okkema

There was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land. As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are.” If the Egyptians see you, and think, `She is his wife,’ they will kill me and let you live. Please say that you are my sister, that it may go well with me because of you, and that I may remain alive thanks to you.
– Genesis 12:10-13

There are some passages in the Bible that we find hard to deal with, and this would certainly qualify. What good can we learn from a story in which a man asks his wife to sacrifice herself to save himself? Perhaps you are tempted to skip over such stories and jump to the next one, as I was in this case. But when we think about why certain things might be included in the biblical narrative, we have to conclude they are there for a purpose and we should study them too.

Let’s take a look at some of the details of this story to see what conclusions we might draw from it. The reality is that Abraham, like all of us, failed sometimes; he was not always “faithful.” Neither do we read that he prayed about the problem of the famine or his decision to go to Egypt for food. Also, we see the foretelling of another story in which much trouble results when God’s people go to Egypt for food without consulting Him first.

Abraham and SarahAbraham definitely knew of the danger of going there with his beautiful wife because of the licentious culture. In the pagan lands around Canaan, men let their lusts drive their actions and tried to take anything that looked desireable to them. His fears were soon realized when Pharaoh took Sarah into his house as his wife. There are other similar stories in the book of Genesis; one involves Abraham and Sarah again (Genesis 20:1-7), another, their son Isaac and his wife Rebekah (Genesis 26:1-11), and also the theme is repeated in the story from Sodom with Lot (Genesis 19:4-8).

In all of these stories we can see the wonderful hand of God’s blessing in spite of ourselves. Abraham is given much wealth, the potential innocent victims are spared, and God afflicts the guilty parties – Pharaoh, Abimelech, the people of Sodom, with serious plagues.

God is so faithful, even when we are not, Bless His Holy Name!


Photocred: http://www.thejewishmuseum.org/onlinecollection/object_collection.php?objectid=26685&artistlist=1&an=James