Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Ishmael and Prayer

“And the angel also said, “You are now pregnant and will give birth to a son. You are to name him Ishmael (which means ‘God hears’), for the Lord has heard your cry of distress.” (Genesis 16:11)

“Do not be afraid! God has heard the boy crying…” (Genesis 21:17)
There are many ways to dig into the story of Hagar and Ishmael, but the part that leapt out at me this week is that Ishmael’s name means God hears.  We do see that in action in this story.  God takes care of Hagar out in the desert twice.  God hears.  And so we pray.

The idea that God hears isn’t restricted to just this story.  Throughout the Bible, we see God responding, and the psalms echo the expectation of a response.

1.       God sends Moses to rescue Israel from slavery in Egypt and says, “I have heard their cries.” (Ex. 3, 6)

2.       Throughout their wandering in the desert, God hears the Israelites’ complaints and responds.

3.       In the book of Samuel we read about Hannah who cried out to God and God heard her cries and gave her a son. (1 Sam. 1)

4.       King Hezekiah trusts that God has heard the words of the King of Assyria who mocked God, and asks God to rescue them.  God heard and they were saved.  (2 Kings 19-20)

5.       Many of the psalms include the words “God hears”

a.       “God keeps an eye on his friends, his ears pick up every moan and groan.” (Psalm 34:15)  

b.      “I love the Lord for he heard my voice.” (Psalm 116:1)

6.       John’s first letter ends with the assurance that God hears us. (1 John 5:14)

Prayer isn’t just a crisis intervention request line, though.  Jesus taught us to pray “give us this day our daily bread,” words that indicate a regular ongoing pattern of prayer.  There are many ways to pray, an infinite number, actually!  Here are some ideas for prayer in the midst of the mundane.  The words of the prayer could be as simple as, “God, bless this person/these people today.”

1.       Driving

a.       If you are on a two-lane road, pray for the people in the cars you pass, and in the car in front of or behind you. 

b.      On a freeway, pray for the people in cars around you, or say a blanket prayer for all those on the road with you.

c.       Pray for the people in the houses and/or businesses you pass.

d.      Ask God to keep you safe and to keep you from causing any other driver to be unsafe.

2.       Shopping

a.       Pray for the people you pass in the store aisles.

b.      Pray for the people waiting in line with you.

c.       Pray for the people who are helping you (cashiers, stockers, etc.)

3.       Eating

a.       Pray for the person serving you.

b.      Pray for the people making the food.

c.       Pray for the people at the tables around you.

4.       Computing

a.       Pray for the people you are reading about on social media sites.

b.      Pray for the people to whom you are sending email.

The possibilities are endless.  How do you pray throughout your day?  Please share your ideas!

1 comment:

  1. I forgot one--at the office praying for those you work with. I had a friend who used to get to the office early so she could pray in each person's office before they got there!