Genesis 24 is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible.
Why would a random story about a servant from an ancient culture orchestrating an arranged marriage be one of my favorite Bible stories? Oh, let me explain. I would LOVE to explain! It’s so romantic. It’s the best of stories. The denouement is so satisfying. You just want to breathe a happy, “Ahh!” at the end of the chapter. And here’s this wonderful story at the beginning of the Bible that assures me that God is personally interested in the everyday, ordinary moments of my life, and He invites me to talk about those moments with Him.
Here’s the synopsis:
Abraham asked the manager of his household to travel back to his home country to find a wife for his son, Isaac. He was so serious about the importance of this task that he had the servant take an oath that he would procure a wife only from Abraham’s clan and that he would not take Isaac with him on the journey.
It must have sounded impossible to the servant. How was he supposed to figure out which pretty girl belonged to Abraham’s kin and which girl might have been a servant from one of those heathen countries?
So the servant prayed. He asked God for guidance. In fact, he was rather specific and to our ears, perhaps a bit hasty and very blunt. He prayed:
“This is my request. I will ask one of them, ‘Please give me a drink from your jug.’ If she says, ‘Yes, have a drink, and I will water your camels, too!’—let her be the one you have selected as Isaac’s wife. This is how I will know that you have shown unfailing love to my master.”Genesis 24:14
And God answered. Immediately. Before the servant finished praying, Isaac’s first cousin once removed walked up to the well to draw water for her flock of sheep. She was the very best choice for Isaac. She was also beautiful. And she was willing to go with the servant back to Canaan to marry a man she’d never met. Immediately, without waiting to finish her trousseau.
The “Ahh!” moment? Look at the last verse of Genesis 24:
And Isaac brought Rebekah into his mother Sarah’s tent, and she became his wife. He loved her deeply, and she was a special comfort to him after the death of his mother.Genesis 24:67
Read this wonderful story in its entirety here.
Why is this chapter special to me?
I grew up thinking prayer consisted of formal words that had to follow the strict outline of the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13). You had to use big words, pray in a pre-determined order, and never pray for yourself. Don’t bother God with small details because He’s got bigger things on His mind than your personal needs. And God only answers those kind of God intervention type of prayers when prayed by important, really spiritual people like missionaries, not ordinary pimple faced teenagers like me.
Then I read Genesis 24 and my misconceptions scooted themselves right out the door. Here’s a servant who prays for something very specific but equally improbable. And God does it! God answers a specific prayer! Didn’t God have more important world matters than a marriage partner? And if he did it for an unnamed servant, would He, could He do the same for me?
Marriage matters. So do many other parts of our ordinary days. God wants to be involved in every moment of our lives. But He wants us to ask for His involvement because He is a gentleman and He won’t force His ways upon our self-will. The beauty of specific prayer is that when we ask specifically and God answers in kind, we know the answer has come from Him. It’s a faith growing moment.
Why doesn’t God answer my specific prayers?
So many young believers have been deflated when they pray for something specific and it doesn’t happen. While God delights to answer our specific prayers, it’s a little more complex than, “I ask, God gives.” And each situation, each prayer request has its own context.
The servant’s prayer was more than the simple convenience of getting a job done. He wanted to honor Abraham and Abraham’s desire to follow God in faith. God had made it clear that He wanted Abraham to be obedient to God and teach his family and household the ways of the Lord as well. Finding a marriage partner with the same basic values as Abraham was crucial for passing on the torch of God’s calling and promises to Abraham’s descendants. By now, it was obvious they wouldn’t find such a woman in the pagan culture of the Canaanites. Traveling back to Haran to find a wife among Abraham’s family was the right thing to do. The servant shared those values. Because he had witnessed over and over God’s unfailing love to Abraham, he so wanted to get this right.
When we ask God for specific interventions, we can ask ourselves:
- Is my request in agreement with the will of God as outlined in Scripture?
- Am I asking for this out of my own greed or convenience, or because I am trying to do what is right?
- Has someone in authority given me a job to do that I’m not sure how I will accomplish it and I really want to honor them and God by my success?
If you hesitate to ask God for specific things, fearing He’ll say no, ask anyway. Whether His answer is yes, no, not now, or “I’ve got a better idea,” use His answer to grow in your understanding of how He operates. You can use this story of Abraham’s servant and Rebecca as your starting point. Start with the confident knowledge that God cares about the little stuff: marriage partners, people connections, finding what you are looking for, and so much more.
God cares about the ordinary parts of your life. He wants to work in partnership with you in every aspect of life. Most of all, He wants to hear from you. He wants to share what matters to you.
Want to know more about Abraham’s life of faith?
You can catch up on my blog series on my website. Look for any posts with the sub-title, “Becoming a Person of Faith” on my website blog.
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