Genesis 17:18-22: How good of God
“18 And Abraham said to God, ‘If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!’ 19 Then God said, ‘Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. 20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation. 21 But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year.’ 22 When he had finished speaking with Abraham, God went up from him.” NIVUK
Abraham wanted to re-visit his own ‘plan B’ – a strategy which had already caused him and Sarah much grief. But he just couldn’t see how he could father a child at the age of a hundred, and Sarah at 90. So his prayer was:
‘’If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!’ (18).
It was understandable that Abraham loved his boy, but it was the wrong prayer. How good of God to answer it though:
‘’And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers’’ (20).
What an insight into the power of prayer. I wonder how many of our prayers are ‘wrong’ in a sense – we’re not quite asking the right thing – yet God still graciously, mercifully answers them, and He is able to fulfil His purposes through them.
(Note: The first baby in the Bible to be named before his birth was Ishmael, Gn. 16:11: the second was Isaac.)
PRAYER: Thank you Lord that you can sort out the tangled threads of good prayers interlaced with bad ones. It’s not that we want to ask amiss, but we often do. I marvel that you can still answer prayers that may not be the best, but somehow bring your purposes to pass through them. This is amazing grace.