Pray and Pray AgainNovember 13, 2023 - 12:00 am
Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was childless. The LORD answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant. — Genesis 25:21
Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Toldot, which means “offspring,” from Genesis 25:19—28:9.
In the beginning of this week’s Torah portion, Scripture tells us that Isaac prayed for his childless wife Rebekah, and she then became pregnant. However, according to Jewish tradition, it wasn’t as easy as it might sound. In fact, Isaac and Rebekah had been praying that same prayer for nineteen years! Now, after nearly two decades of waiting, their prayer was answered. This was a prayer marathon, and it was no easy sprint to the finish line.
I find this teaching so inspiring because this is often how prayer works in our own lives. Sometimes, we pray to God, and our prayers are answered immediately. But, often, we don’t get an instant response to our prayers. It’s easy to give up after praying for the same thing over and over again. The powerful lesson that we learn from Isaac and Rebekah is that we must press on and keep praying. The very next prayer may be the last one—the one that opens the door.
The Hebrew word in our verse that means “to pray” can also mean “to dig.” This is because praying can be like digging. Praying hollows out a tunnel between us and what we are praying for. Just because we haven’t reached our goal yet, doesn’t mean that we haven’t made progress—we’re just not there yet.
The image that comes to my mind is of my sisters and me building sandcastles on the beach. After we built our castle, we would dig a tunnel going through it. I would start digging on one end, and my sister on the other. We kept digging, even when it took a long time, knowing that at any moment we would break through and reach each other. And we always did.
I want to encourage us all to keep praying, no matter how long we’ve been praying or how impossible our situation might seem. According to tradition, Rebekah was physically incapable of having children. Yet, after nineteen years of prayer, of digging through the impossibilities, God made a way for her to give birth to twins.
Friends, we must pray and pray again. Some things require only a few prayers, and some require many. Keep digging through until your breakthrough.
Your turn: Choose one thing that you have been praying for and make it a focus of your prayers every day, even multiple times a day, knowing that every sincere prayer brings you closer to your breakthrough.