And Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was barren; and the LORD answered him and Rebekah his wife conceived.
As I read this verse this morning, I was struck by how different the story is when Rebekah is barren versus when Rachel is barren. The Bible says simply that Isaac prayed for Rebekah. There is no account of arguments or chastisements; no record of Rebekah telling Isaac to give her children or she would die; no other woman in the house for Rebekah to be jealous of or fight with. The house of Isaac and Rebekah is very different from the house of Jacob and Rachel and Leah and their maids.
Regardless of any difference in the structure of the home, the man’s response is where I was struck. See, Isaac prays for his wife’s barrenness and she conceives. Isaac goes to God on behalf of his wife and her desires. Jacob’s wife, Rachel, will tell him to give her children lest she die and Jacob says that he’s not God, in essence dismissing her desire to have children as out of his control.
While there are many things which are out of my control and many of these are things my wife would like a particular outcome in, I cannot simply dismiss her desires if I am to be a good husband or have a happy home. I love my wife and want the very best for her. Since I do not always know what “the best” is, it then behooves me to take my limited understanding of “the best” to my God and present both my wife’s requests and my own to Him.
What all this rambly verbiage boils down to is this: I think this verse is dispensing indispensable marriage advice for husbands and that advice is that we husbands take our wives’ concerns to God. If my wife is feeling short-tempered and easily-angered then I need to be on my knees before God on her behalf. Not because I’m losing my own temper, but because part of what God’s Spirit gives to us is peace. When she feels unattractive or, as she has sometimes claimed, downright ugly, I should be in prayer. Not because she can’t be, but because I love her and want her to feel as beautiful as she is to me. When she’s losing it because our daughter is being a pill, I should be on my knees in prayer – preferably with our daughter in my arms so my wife has some down time. In all these things where my wife craves my support and needs the intervention of God, I can support best from my knees and can, from that same place, invite our God to intervene on her behalf.
For the sake of clarity, I am not some brow-beaten husband trying to make amends. I am an imperfect husband to an imperfect wife who just saw in God’s Word an invitation for me to intercede on behalf of my wife. Will she or I always receive our petitions? I certainly hope not. But He cannot answer a prayer I have not prayed.