Are You Serious When You Pray?
(Some thoughts drawn from Eliezer's quest to find a wife for Isaac)
“Now let it be that the young woman to whom I say, ‘Please let down your pitcher that I may drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I will also give your camels a drink’-let her be the one You have appointed for Your servant Isaac….” Gen. 24:14
“Therefore the LORD will wait, that He may be gracious to you….” Isa. 30:18
I’ve often marveled at the way God answered Eliezer’s prayer when he was seeking a spouse for Isaac. Two things are worth noting: (1) He speciﬁcally answered Eliezer’s prayer, and (2) He immediately brought the person-while he was STILL praying Rebekah came along. Eliezer soon realized that God had answered his prayer. That was a fast answer to prayer. I am grateful God is both willing and able to answer our prayers.
Do you wish God answered your prayers as speciﬁcally and quickly? I think He wants to do the same for us in our day, but I don’t think most of us are prepared to receive such a speciﬁc answer, at least we are not prepared to receive it so quickly.
Reviewing the story found in Genesis 24, Abraham seems to have sensed the need of a godly spouse for Isaac. Isaac was of a kind and compliant nature; having a godly wife would strengthen his spiritual resolve and would be a blessing-Yes, marriage contracted in the fear of the Lord is a good thing and I often pray for young adults who seek marriage partners.
Abraham was very speciﬁc when instructing Eliezer about the person he was to return with: (1) she was to come from his family; and (2) she was to return to the land of Canaan. Regardless of how wonderful or spiritual she might be, regardless of her beauty or intelligence, if these two criteria were not met, she could not be the one! These were so important, in fact, that Eliezer was released from bringing anyone back if no one was willing to return-apparently there are times when being single is better than being married.
Eliezer made his preparations, and headed off-Isaac trusted this godly man even though Isaac was 40 at the time probably.
Arriving in Mesopotamia, the land where Abraham was from, Eliezer made his way to the well where the local people came to draw water. It was a good place for Eliezer to come to, since he would be able to mingle with the local people and his camels were also thirsty-apparently some places can be more suitable than others to receive God’s answer.
There he prayed. “Behold, here I stand by the well of water, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water. Now let it be that the young woman to whom I say, ‘Please let down your pitcher that I may drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I will also give your camels a drink’-let her be the one You have appointed for Your servant Isaac.” Gen. 24:13,14
Before he even ﬁnished praying, God responded: “And it happened, before he had ﬁnished speaking, that behold, Rebekah, … came out with her pitcher on her shoulder” (Gen. 24:15) Of a hospitable and generous nature, she offered to not only bring water to Eliezer, but also fetched water for all of his camels-a good place to ﬁnd God’s choice is where others are being served. His prayer was perfectly answered!
Eliezer asked about her family, soon realized God had answered his prayer, and proceeded to praise God before he did anything else-he never forgot that he was on a mission for God!
When he met with Rebekah’s family, he was able to share all the ways God had led up to the moment-when God works His providential leadings are easy to follow, and the family could neither respond yay or nay because it was so obvious that God was in charge-when God is leading there won’t need to be a lot of convincing of others.
Rebekah agreed to return to Canaan, they traveled back, Isaac received her, and there was love at ﬁrst sight-since God is the author of love, the marriages He brings about are the sweetest.
Returning to my original question, I ask: Why was God able to answer Eliezer’s prayer so speciﬁcally and quickly? Because Eliezer was prepared to IMMEDIATELY accept GOD’S SPECIFIC CHOICE!
When it comes to serious things in life, like marriage, most people want TIME to consider possibilities, want MULTIPLE prospects to choose from, and the LAST WORD on the ﬁnal choice. Yes, we seek God’s blessings, but in the end we want what we want, and often leave God out of the decision process.
For example, as I travel around the world I often speak with young adults who are working for God. Many of these conversations are about their prayerful quest for a godly marriage partner. As a result I pray for many of them and am pleased when I hear that God has brought the much prayed for partner.
95% of the godly young adults who attend my meetings are single. 99% of the young women of this group are praying for God to lead them to a godly man who they can safely give their hearts to. Some of the young women have joined other young women to seek God’s help in ﬁnding a godly husband.
I wish I could say as many young men are praying, praying as earnestly, or joining other young men to unite in praying about this important facet of life. I wish, but it doesn’t seem to be so. Some of the young men are also considering their options as they play the “friend” game-enjoying close friendships that are considered casual and come without obligations-at least in their minds. But what seems casual to them is far more than casual to the young woman they are friends with sometimes. Sadly breakups from “friendships” are confusing and hurt just as badly as when serious relationships break up.
Knowing of the godly desires of the young people, I am always keeping my eyes open for possible matches. Some time back I was speaking with a young man about a godly young woman who would make a wonderful partner for someone. He had formerly asked me to pray that God would help him ﬁnd a godly partner to serve God with him, and I thought I might have found such a person. He was please to hear of someone, but responded that he wanted an “organic” relationship-new term to me-explained with the following descriptors: “natural growth, makes things go smoother. Low expectations.” In pondering the response, seemed to me he wasn’t ready to make a decision in that area of his life and I shouldn’t have mentioned anyone to him until he was ready. To look at this spiritually, He wasn’t prepared to to get a fast answer to his prayer for a partner because he wasn’t ready to enter into a serious relationship, or he wasn’t prepared to accept God’s choice.
Is it possible my friend was wanting options to consider-perhaps even playing the ﬁeld? That is unfortunate since I am constantly talking with brokenhearted young adults who got into relationships where either one or the other of the parties wasn’t that serious yet, and broke things off eventually, little realizing the heartbreak that would result. I’ve also heard from more than one individual who has gone down the “tentative” relationship pathway, been disappointed multiple times, and has decided to no longer be part of such relationships-preferring to wait for the individual who is seriously seeking God’s choice, and is surrendered to accept God’s choice. Here’s some advice: don’t start a relationship unless you are prepared to court and get married.
And remember “just being friends” and spending lots of time with a member of the opposite sex is like being in a relationship after some time for a young woman. The guys may not realize this, but a woman’s heart responds to attention and time, even if the young man doesn’t intend for the relationship to be anything more than a friendship! Don’t play the “just friends” game. Those breakups hurt just as bad!
I am reminded of another young adult who once wrote asking that I pray that she get admitted to a particular college. So I prayed and was pleased to learn that she had been accepted-even received a scholarship. I was praising God. But she didn’t come! Inquiring what happened, I discovered she had changed her mind! I was left wondering if she had really sought God’s direction prior to asking me to pray. I wondered why I had prayed for her so speciﬁcally.
My prayers in both of these cases were misguided. Praying that they would become serious with God and seek whatever God wanted, would have been more appropriate. But praying for a speciﬁc person, and a speciﬁc college, was misguided. God didn’t answer my prayers, and I am realizing that I don’t want to waste time praying those prayers anymore. In the future, I will be very interested to know why the person making the request is so sure their request is God’s will? Lack of seeking after God, lack of surrendering to God’s direction, will preclude praying speciﬁcally, and will necessitate a general prayer for direction and surrender to the direction eventually given.
I have mentioned two young adult examples, but I think the same happens for adults whether single or married. We have a problem, we consider what is going on in our lives, come up with our own solution, and then beg God to grant whatever we have asked-even ask our friends to pray for whatever we want. We could save ourselves lots of time and frustration if we were to ask God what He wants, and how He wants us to pray. I believe those answers would come much faster.
So I ask: Are you serious when you pray? I believe many of the delays encountered when we pray, come because we are not serious with God-at least not serious about receiving HIS answer. As a result, God waits until we become so frustrated with our attempts-attempts which can go on for years, that we will ﬁnally surrender and accept HIS answer. Then He will quickly answer, according to His will, like He did for Eliezer.
A Prayer: Father in heaven, thank you for allowing me to go on the mission trip to Honduras. Thank you for guiding me as I selected planes, as I served you at the mission school, as I returned, etc.. Thank you for letting me serve you in teaching about great Christians here. Thank you that You have given us so many examples of individuals who surrendered their lives and what they had, and were used by You in a great way as a result. Father, bless my friend Dan. I don't know what is going on for Dan, but You do. Please grant the same blessings that you gave me, and continue to give me, as we seek to serve You. You know the prayers that are going up. You know to what degree Dan is serious about having prayers answered. Might you give Dan the willingness to seek Your answers, and the courage to accept Your Answers when they come. I ask this in Jesus' name, Amen.