I heard a great sermon recently about Abraham and his situation with Abimelech in Genesis 20. (Read the passage HERE) There’s so much that happens in that story, good and bad and suspenseful and noteworthy. It’s worth a read!
What struck me most about this story is what happens at the end. After the whole debacle with Sarah and the king, Abraham is instructed by God to pray for Abimelech, specifically, “Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech, and also healed his wife and female slaves so that they bore children. For the Lord had closed all the wombs of the house of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abraham's wife.” (Genesis 20:17-18)
This may not seem interesting or noteworthy at first glance, but think about this in the context of Abraham’s life. God promised him a son TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AGO and Abraham still hasn’t seen that promise come to life. And yet, here, God instructs him to pray for specifically that for this king, Abimelech, for the blessing of conceiving children in his household.
God instructs Abraham to pray for that thing he wants most... but for someone else!
Can you imagine what this felt like for Abraham? I haven’t been around long enough to want anything for 25 years, and here he is, having received a promise straight from God for a son that hasn’t happened yet, and instead, he’s being instructed to pray for that blessing on someone he’s in conflict with.
It would be easy to think, “How cruel of God to ask Abraham to do this!” And surely it was so difficult for Abraham. But when you read his story, you see that God has been preparing Abraham, one thing at a time, for his whole life. He’s been giving him thing after thing to be faithful in, and God has not abandoned him when he screwed up. And Abraham is obedient, prays, and the king receives the blessing Abraham asks for him.
Y’all, this rocked my world, and totally turned my unhealthy habits of comparison upside-down.
Imagine! What would it look like if every time we looked at another person, another leader, another mother or wife, and thought about what they have that we don’t, we prayed for that for them? What if we prayed for blessing and re-route that bitter root of jealousy that can so easily take hold of us? What would change about our lives and relationships?
After all, Colossians 3:14 instructs us to put on a garment of love, and 1 Corinthians 13:4 assures us that love cares more for others than for self and it doesn’t want what others have. Can you imagine the unity that could be formed, and the divisiveness avoided, if we prayed and viewed others this way?
As I’ve begun to practice these prayers in replacement of my tendency toward comparison and envy, it has begun to melt away those insecurities in light of the way God has richly blessed me and those around me. It has helped me learn about myself and the things that I deeply desire, and turned my focus from what others have to what I have in the Lord.
May we all be women who overflow with gratitude for the individual stories and gifts we have each been given, and may our prayers request abundant blessings for those around us.