Saturday, January 7, 2017

January 7

Genesis 16:1-18:19; Matthew 6:1-24; Psalm 7:1-17; Proverbs 2:1-5

There are a lot of bad decisions happening in today’s Old Testament reading. Did you cringe a bit as you read along? First, Sarai grows impatient waiting for God’s promise and takes matters into her own hands. She gives her husband her servant so they can produce a child – let me say that another way – she tells her husband to have an affair in the hopes that affair will get her a baby. Granted, this was more common in ancient  times, the giving of a maidservant to produce children, but it is still clearly not what God wanted - definitely not according to his plan. Yet, you can also see her pain here. I haven’t struggled with long term infertility myself, but in conversations with friends who have yearned for years to have a child, this may not seem as crazy as it appears. She is longing for a child so deeply that her pain keeps her from seeing things clearly.

Sarai decides an affair is the answer and yet the second she gets what she thinks she wanted, things begin to unravel. Hagar lords her pregnancy over Sarai, Sarai blames Abram (though it was her idea), Abram takes no responsibility (for his part, for Hagar who is a servant in his house or for his unborn child), and Hagar is forced out on her own with a baby on the way. Yikes! But God is faithful to Hagar, during all these bad decisions. He protects her and tells her that her son will have a future.

Then things turn around for Abram and Sarai – God changes their names and promises them again the son they have longed for. More importantly, God establishes his covenant with Abraham, which will carry with his people all the way until Christ comes and establishes his new covenant. Listen to these historic words: “I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you” (Gen. 17:7). Such powerful words. And Abraham believes God, even though he and Sarah are both too old to have children. What an example Abraham is, of both patience (by this time, he and Sarah had been married for 75 childless years, and it had been 13 years since the first promise of a child) and of trust in God. That is a long time to believe God will do what he says he’s going to do! And what a reward he gets – offspring so numerous that they are like the stars (Gen. 15:15).

Now we turn to the New Testament reading, which gives instructions on how to pray.  If you’ve been around Christianity for a while, then these words are probably very familiar. But let’s try to slow down today and see afresh what Jesus is teaching us about prayer. He says, “Pray like this” (Mt. 6:9) and then tells us to:
  • Address God as our Father. He is the one to whom we pray. Not some mythical being, not some far off divinity, but our Father, who lives in heaven. 
  • Give praise to God. This reminds us of who God is (and by comparison, who we are). We set ourselves in right position to God and exalt His name.
  • We are to pray that God’s will would be done, in our lives and in the lives of those around us, and the world at large. This is a huge task, especially since there are times when we may feel like God’s will isn’t quite clear, but we are called to pray this over our world nonetheless.
  • It is right and natural that we would seek God for our daily needs – He is the great provider and He wants to give us what we need (and more!).
  • We also seek God for forgiveness, knowing He’s the only one who can deliver us from our wickedness.
  • Finally, we ask His protection as we go out into the world, that we would be in the light, spared from temptation.

Wouldn’t it be great, as we wrap up this first week of the new year, to commit to praying this every day? Or if that seems like too much, perhaps we could pray this every Sunday as we’re waking up, before we start our morning routine. Let’s see how our prayers are transformed as we pray this ancient prayer.

- Esther McCurry 

How did God speak to you in Scripture today? Click here to share your reflections on God's word or read past posts. We'd love to hear from you. 


  1. The Old covenant reading today reminds me how influential I am over my husband and how his desire to please me can throw caution to the wind! There is a lot to think about here.

  2. Thankful that Jesus teaches us how to pray. Afterall, Praying like that would prevent us from being like Sarai in her decision making....self suficient taking matters in our own hands. Then left to our consequences, blaming others. We people are like Sarai in ways, in His grace Jesus teaches us how to pray to depend on Him and saving us from ourselves (temptations) and our wills. Thanks for your insights, friend!

  3. Yes, I completely agree, Laura! Isn't it amazing how God's word all ties together? Thanks for chiming in!