It amazes me how the 2021 theme “Build on a Strong Foundation,’’ is so beautifully interwoven with the WDP motto ‘Informed prayer, prayerful action.’ The theme has been foremost on my mind, and I began to question what my ‘foundation’ was like. Whilst preparing to speak at a fasting and prayer morning, I also realized how all-encompassing the WDPIC motto is - it is only as one prays that God opens our eyes (informed) and then…. action is the natural outcome! Keeping this in mind, I was led to examine the lives of two women in the Old Testament. Their lives helped me to be ‘informed’ and to realize what a powerful tool prayer is. They are Rebekah (Isaac’s wife) and Hannah. Their prayerful or prayerless attitudes reflect the impact not only in their lives, but also in the lives of their family and even an entire nation.
When we first meet Rebekah in Genesis 24, she is a vibrant, adventurous, helpful, happy person who was willing to take risks. If you observe our young girls, it will not be difficult to identify a young Rebekah – so happy, content, and full of life. Rebekah was not only blessed with a loving, caring family (Genesis 24:49-50), she also married into a family that loved her and welcomed her with open arms (Genesis 24:67).
On the other hand, our first encounter with Hannah in 1 Samuel 1 is quite the opposite and we meet a ‘deeply troubled,’ barren woman whose rival was constantly provoking her (1 Samuel 1:6). When comparing them, one would expect Hannah to be the ‘loser.’ However, this was not so.
Rebekah turned her blessings into a curse. To me the saddest verse in the Bible is found in Genesis 27:13 when Rebekah encouraged her favourite son Jacob to deceive his father and brother. Even when Jacob voiced his reservations (Genesis 27:11-12), she arrogantly told him ‘Let the curse fall on me!’ The greatest blessing for any mother is to see her children not only living righteous lives, but also to be united. Rebekah unfortunately traded these blessings for curses. Her deceit led to disastrous results: Jacob fled from home; and when he returned from Mesopotamia twenty years later, his mother lay buried in the cave of Machpelah, (Genesis 49:31) and Rebekah did not even have the joy of seeing Jacob’s children! Is this not a sad ending to a family that was greatly blessed by God?
In contrast, Hannah chose to seek the Lord in her time of distress and transformed her life into a blessing. Her agonizing prayer to her God (1 Samuel 1:13-16) and her faithfulness (1 Samuel 1:20) transformed her from being deeply troubled to a woman greatly blessed (1 Samuel 2:21). She kept her promise and dedicated her first born to God (1 Samuel 1:27-28). A difficult decision, as she knew she could see Samuel only once a year. Hannah was able to experience the blessing of watching her son become a great prophet who went on to influence an entire nation. An amazing woman. Is it surprising that the Lord blessed her?
Do you want to act like Hannah or a Rebekah? Are you going to pray intelligently and take prayerful action just like Hannah did? Or will you choose to act like Rebekah? The Lord has left the choice to you! May you make life’s choices prayerfully and thereafter take prayerful action!
- Vino Schubert, WDPIC Regional Representative Asia