Hagar had a good life. God promised her that her son Ishmael would have descendants that will be too numerous to count. Then a quick turn of events caused her and her son to be kicked out of Abraham’s household, sending them blundering in the wilderness without enough food and water to sustain them. With their supplies running out and the boy getting very weak of the journey, Hagar laid Ishmael under a shrub to die while she went a little farther to give in to her despair.
Who’s gonna hear her there? No one. They were alone in the wilderness, her son was dying and she has resigned herself to the same fate. All she could do was cry. No, it wasn’t a prayer, just plain, hopeless bleating. She was weak, too weak to even see her son draw his last breath. She was waiting for grief and despair to claim her. But she forgot one thing: God’s promise that Ishmael would be great.
In his dying state, Ishmael did something he learned from his father- he prayed to the God of the Hebrews. He prayed hard, in fact, the Bible says he lifted up his voice and cried. I know most translations would say it was Hagar who prayed but in the original Hebrew, the voice that was lifted up was masculine, indicating that it was Ishmael who prayed. Gen. 21: 27 confirms it, it says that the Lord heard the voice of the lad.
Hagar’s deliverance came from an unexpected place. It was brought about by a genuine prayer of a dying boy and the faithfulness of the God who never forgets any of His promises. Just when her last strand of hope was about to snap, God stepped in and by miraculous providence, a spring of water appeared near them and sustained them in the dessert. They were not going to die after all. Even if Ishmael’s posterity would grow to be the fiercest enemy of Isaac’s children for generations, God simply doesn’t abandon those whom a promised is made to.
You might sometimes find yourself in a situation where you are too discouraged to even get up and breath. Don’t despair. Even the castaways are never forsaken. They live on and they find hope in God. They find help even in unexpected places. Yes, even a dying boy’s prayer can be your ticket to deliverance. Just hang on and say a prayer.