The Prayer of Eliezer

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It should be a familiar story, but let’s call it Mission Impossible: The Bachelor. It’s the one where Abraham sends his trusted servant to find a wife for Isaac (Genesis 24). Abraham doesn’t want Isaac to marry a local Canaanite so he sends his servant on a mission to his hometown some 600 miles away. From a modern perspective it’s simply outrageous. How does a beautiful young lady (Rebekah) leave her family, and everything she’s ever known, to take off on a camel caravan across the desert to marry a man she’s never met? Yet, we know that’s exactly what happens. It’s all part of God’s plan and the story of the servant reveals much more.

The Faithful Servant
So who is this servant fellow? He’s not actually named in the passage, but he’s described very well. He’s the oldest servant in Abraham’s household and he’s in charge of all that he had. In today’s language, he would be the top employee, power of attorney, executor of his estate, and trusted advisor. Many scholars believe it’s Eliezer, mentioned in Genesis 15:2 as Eliezer of Damascus, the only heir of Abraham’s house (before Isaac was born). His name means: God is help.

Now, it’s time for the mission and he accepts it by swearing to do all that Abraham asked. It’s a mission Abraham believes God will bless and even send an angel before him, but also one where Abraham acknowledges that if she doesn’t come back his oath would be fulfilled. Eliezer’s name is no accident, he would need God’s help. It’s only the lineage of the Messiah at stake, no pressure!  

The Obedient Servant
In verse 10 Eliezer makes plans like an elderly wise man would. He prepares to go with gifts and a small caravan of camels. Since he’s from Damascus, he most likely never traveled to Abraham’s hometown in Mesopotamia. He must have become a servant when Abraham first arrived in the land of Canaan, not long after God called Abraham to leave his country and his kindred. If true, he has little knowledge of the terrain of where he’s going, but I imagine he researched it and planned it out in incredible detail, keeping in mind he had to bring a young lady back safely.  

From the plans in verse 10 to the destination in verse 11, the story progresses quickly, completely skipping his journey details, to where the camels are kneeling near a well outside the City of Nahor. However, let’s pause and consider that long journey, can you imagine the obstacles faced, the adversity overcome? Can you sense his relief of finally arriving at the target city, exhausted and thirsty, expectant, knowing the time of day the daughters would come to draw water, but unsure of what would happen? He made it in faithful obedience, but we only have one verse to know he made it.

The Prayerful Servant
Then we come to verse 12 and find Eliezer’s unique prayer, where he’s not kneeling like the camels, instead, he’s standing, eyes open, watching. This is the first recorded prayer in the Bible. There are other conversations between God and man, other visions noted, but this is the first prayer. It may seem odd that the first prayer is not from a well known character, but it’s not really that strange because we know that God chooses the humble and less obvious characters throughout the Bible to accomplish His purposes.

Another thing the writer (Moses) doesn’t tell us is how frequent Eliezer prayed during the mission, or if he was a prayer warrior. I imagine he prayed many, many times on the way, but what sticks out in the absence of this knowledge is that his faithful, obedient action precedes his specific prayer for guidance.

And he said, “O LORD, God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today and show steadfast love to my master Abraham. Behold, I am standing by the spring of water, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water. Let the young woman to whom I shall say, ‘Please let down your jar that I may drink,’ and who shall say, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels’—let her be the one whom you have appointed for your servant Isaac. By this I shall know that you have shown steadfast love to my master.” (Genesis 24:12-14).

And here we must ask, is this a legitimate way for us to pray? Isn’t he asking for a sign and putting God to the test? What if this isn’t God’s will?

The Bible contains many prayers where God honors specific requests. One that comes to mind is Samson’s prayer in the Book of Judges where he asked for strength one last time (16:28). Of course, God, in His wisdom, may not grant our specific requests. For instance, Paul’s request to remove the thorn in his flesh (2 Corinthians 12:8). Thus, God may answer prayers exactly how we pray them, may not answer them (but like Paul – His grace is sufficient), or may answer them in a way that we don’t expect, but we should not be afraid to be very specific when we pray. In fact, we’re encouraged to go boldly before the throne of grace to find Help in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16). Like Eliezer, we should make plans, seek wisdom, and take action, all while seeking the Lord’s guidance in prayer. Then we must trust our Great God to direct our steps and trust Him with the outcome.

The Worshipful Servant
We know that Eliezer was ultimately successful in his mission. Verse 15 tells us that before he finished praying Rebekah came out with a water jar. Then she does everything that he prays to confirm – she’s the one! And what’s amazing is before he even started to pray she had to be on her way. What a faithful God! When we see God’s faithfulness through the lens of answered prayer what does it cause us to do? Worship! And that’s exactly what he did:

The man bowed his head and worshiped the LORD and said, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken his steadfast love and his faithfulness toward my master. As for me, the LORD has led me in the way to the house of my master’s kinsmen.” Then the young woman ran and told her mother’s household about these things (Genesis 24:26-28).

May we all be encouraged to be faithful, obedient, and prayerful in the service of our Master. The next time you face a seemingly impossible situation, remember how God has been faithful in the past, that He is faithful for today, and we can trust Him to be faithful in the future. Thus, we can act, pray, and cling to His promises. And when you see His faithfulness through answered prayer, worship!

 

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Look Away From Me

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Lord, teach me to number all of my days
My life is but a moment in Your mind
For I’m just a breathe that blows away
I’m a raindrop in the sea
Easily confused and so blind
Let me not complain about Your design

Where do I put my hope if it’s not in You?
Come rescue me from this rebellious land
For my punishment is ever renewed
I have no words of defense
Please stop the blows from Your hand
When you discipline me for my sin

Lord, hear my prayer and listen to my cry
Don’t ignore my tears falling on the floor
Look away so I can smile if I try
Kill the sin or leave me alone
Let me die and be no more
Look away, look away from me, LORD

Behind the lines

 

Psalm 39

“Hear my prayer, O LORD,
and give ear to my cry;
hold not your peace at my tears!
For I am a sojourner with you,
a guest, like all my fathers.
Look away from me, that I may smile again,
before I depart and am no more!”
(Psalm 39:12-13)

 

 

 

 

 

Waiting

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Do not rebuke me in anger
For who can stand when You’re jealous?
Do not discipline in vengeance
While I waive my guilty banner

I groan because I have been proud
My longing rises before You
I cannot hide my sighs from You
And my face is bowed to the ground

On You, LORD, I wait night and day
When will you provide an answer?
While my enemies have their laughter
My heart fails and I am afraid

I confess all my iniquity
Draw close to me in this distress
Do not forget your promises
Will you not come and rescue me?  

Do not forsake me now, O LORD
I hear my foe’s celebration
You alone are my salvation
My only hope is in Your Word

Behind the lines

Psalm 38

There is no soundness in my flesh
because of your indignation;
there is no health in my bones
because of my sin.
For my iniquities have gone over my head;
like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me.

My wounds stink and fester
because of my foolishness,
I am utterly bowed down and prostrate;
all the day I go about mourning.
For my sides are filled with burning,
and there is no soundness in my flesh.
I am feeble and crushed;
I groan because of the tumult of my heart.

O Lord, all my longing is before you;
my sighing is not hidden from you.
My heart throbs; my strength fails me,
and the light of my eyes—it also has gone from me.
(Psalm 38:3-10)

But for you, O LORD, do I wait;
it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer.
(Psalm 38:15)

 

Song of Joy

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Come clap your hands and sing a joyful song
For the Lord is King over all the earth
Let all nations bow before the throne
And all people have glory on their tongue

Song of Joy
Receive our words of praise
Song of Joy
Who called us from the grave
Song of Joy
The victory is won
Song of Joy
Death could not hold the Son

Sing for salvation with shouts of amen
Sing of great mercy again and again
For He has ascended with trumpet sound
Make a joyful noise in a psalm to Him

Seated supreme over heaven and earth
Reigning forever on His royal throne
Highly exalted let each one proclaim
Their own song of grace to describe His worth


Behind the lines

Psalm 47

Sing praises to God, sing praises!
Sing praises to our King, sing praises!
For God is the King of all the earth;
sing praises with a psalm!
(Psalm 47:6-7)

 

 

Groanings Too Deep For Words

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The Broken World

Have you ever had groanings that were too deep for words, where the details are so heavy and difficult to share, it’s hard to even breathe, much less talk about it? It may be a situation of abuse, abortion, addiction, bankruptcy, divorce, or the loss of a dear loved one to suicide. It may be the inability to have children, or perhaps you finally have a child, but your precious one has an unexpected terminal illness. It may be that you have a rebellious young adult causing tremendous heartache as a prodigal son or daughter. It may be that your eyes have finally been opened to your own sin and poor choices. Whatever it is, there’s a deep lingering sadness, and a time for grieving, sighs, and groaning.

Yet, our fast paced world doesn’t allow us to grieve properly. You know, the one of self-esteem and you can get through anything so get up and get going. The one where you must keep up that perfect public image, because let’s face it, who has time for reflection or grief? Who wants to be around that kind of sadness? However, sadness, as the Disney movie, Inside Out, vividly portrays, is a very helpful emotion. Sadness is a gift from God given to help us deal with the difficulties we face in a fallen world. Sadness brings tears of healing in the present, while making us long for a better world in the future. A world restored to the original intent of God dwelling with man in perfect relationship, where there’s no more suffering, no more tears, no more pain, and no more death.

No Words

Grievous circumstances are often when our words fall short and we can’t even begin to describe the spiritual and emotional turmoil we’re feeling. This is where the Christian clichés, and the token, often out of context, Bible verses given by friends, though meant to be encouraging and kind, may seem empty, unwanted and even cruel.

It is in the these life moments where words need to be few and where love needs to be shown with much patience and kindness. There’s not a quick fix – just snap out of it, solution, and our actions during these times will prove much stronger than our words. This is when just being there to serve out of love and support is the best thing we can do for one another before we speak words based on the “truth in love” principle. This is a time for weeping with those who weep. A time for listening. A time for reflection. “What is God teaching me?” It’s a place for hugs, a time for praying, – not just saying, “I’m praying for you”, but actually praying with someone. It’s also a time where we should ask for permission to speak. “I’m so sorry for what you’re going through, is it okay if I share something?”

How Long?

The grieving period really depends on the circumstances and the people involved, but eventually the sadness gives way to an opportunity to express joy in the hope of Christ. And here we must acknowledge that people grieve in different ways. This may take days, weeks, months, or even years. There will be good days and bad days, but there’s a Living Hope that we must turn to, in order to help us better understand why there is suffering. It’s a hope that may have never been completely lost, but we, or our friends, were unable to fully rejoice in it during the season of grief.

Paul, who was no stranger to suffering, wrote these inspired words of hope, a hope which cannot be seen, yet a hope we patiently wait for. It’s a hope that we must learn to embrace.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience (Romans 8:18-25 ESV).

Peter, who denied Christ three times, and who had to be terribly grieved by his denial throughout his life, also reminds those who are born again of our Living Hope. You see heartaches often have reminders that trigger renewed periods of grief. Can you imagine him hearing a rooster crow each morning or just seeing one wander by? Some days it may not be too difficult, others it may be like a fresh crushing blow. Like Peter, we must constantly remind ourselves of this hope:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:3-7 ESV).

Our Helper When There Are No Words

Going to back Romans 8, Paul writes where our Help comes from, and then writes one of the most quoted scripture verses for encouraging other believers. However, we must be careful when we use it. For instance, don’t jump to v28 when you should start with v26. Stay there for a while in weakness and be comforted, knowing that when we have no words to pray, the Holy Spirit knows, and He’s interceding for us with groanings too deep for words…

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:26-28 ESV).

 

You’re Gracious To Me

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Who am I compared to You
Why should You even think of me?
All the sin and trouble I’ve caused
I have no integrity…

You’re gracious to me
You’re gracious to me
You’re gracious to me, O LORD

For I am a sinner
I’ve sinned against You
I’m not worthy to bear Your name
Yet You raised me up and redeemed my life
To praise You imperfectly
You’re gracious to me

My enemies taunt me
They remind me of my troubles
They whisper that I’m not Yours
But it’s only empty words…

O Blessed be the LORD
My hope is restored
For You beat my enemies
And You delight in me
My spirit is renewed
As I delight in You


Behind the lines

Psalm 41

As for me, I said, “O LORD, be gracious to me;
heal me, for I have sinned against you!”
My enemies say of me in malice,
“When will he die, and his name perish?”
And when one comes to see me, he utters empty words,
while his heart gathers iniquity;
when he goes out, he tells it abroad.
All who hate me whisper together about me;
they imagine the worst for me.
(Psalm 41:4-7)

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