Summary: This sermon looks at the lesson of prayer and patience.
If we took the time this morning to ask how each of us met our spouse I bet there would be some interesting stories. Some may have met at school or the work place. Some may have met through friends. Debbie and I met at Hardees where she was the store manager and I was her bread delivery guy. I jokingly tell others that she liked my buns.
Kids have a different approach. On a talk show where some ten year olds were being interviewed the question was asked, “ How do you know who to marry?” Here are some of their answers.
“ You got to find somebody who likes the same stuff. Like, if you like sports, she should like it that you like sports, and she should keep the chips and dips coming.”
“You flip a nickel, and heads means you stay with him and tails means you try the next one.”
Now this last one might have a bit of truth to it.
“No person really decides before they grow up who they’re going to marry. God decides it all way before, and you get to find out later who you’re stuck with.”
As we look at our next character in the lineage of Jesus we will see God’s handy work in choosing the perfect wife for Isaac. We will also discover how alike the walk of Abraham and his son were. We will discover if Isaac learned from his father’s mistakes.
The focus of the story has now shifted from Abraham to Isaac. The story is told in Genesis 24 of Abraham’s desire to be sure that his son Isaac married someone from his homeland of Ur and not a Canaanite woman. He called his most trusted servant, Eliezer, to accomplish the task. Abraham was very specific on the criteria for the task. One major point was under no circumstance was Isaac to return to Ur to find his own bride.
Eliezer set out with ten camels. In the town of Nahor he went to the community well. He had the camels knell down by the well. It was evening time when the young women of the town would come to the well to draw water.
So Eleizer prays in Genesis 24:12-14. “O Lord, God of my master, Abraham. Please give me success today, and show unfailing love to my master, Abraham. See, I am standing here beside this spring, and the young women of the town are coming out to draw water. 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.”
Let’s look at Genesis 25:15 “Before he had finished praying, he saw a young woman named Rebekah coming out with her water jug on her shoulder. She was the daughter of Bethuel, who was the son of Abraham’s brother Nahor and his wife, Milcah.”
Let’s set on “Before he had finished praying---” When we pray God’s will into our lives the action begins before we can finish the prayer. The problem is the most of our prayers are not centered on God’s will but rather our desires.
We have this promise found in 1 John 5:14-15. “And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.”
The problem with my prayers are they usually self-centered. For example, I have a financial burden. My prayer might be for an unexpected check or donation to relieve my burden. When it doesn’t happen I question God’s ability to keep his word. Perhaps my prayer should have been for wisdom to relieve my burden and wisdom to not continually allow myself to be trapped in my burden.
Often we might pray for the healing of others but our motivation might be to relieve us of the stress of their illness. We might pray for direction in a situation but really we are looking for a reason to do nothing while we wait.
I am not saying it’s wrong to pray for yourself. I am saying that languishing in self pity while waiting for answered prayer is not pleasing to God. If you want proof simply read the book of Job.
And notice also Eleizer is not praying for himself. He’s not at the well praying like I might have.
“Oh Lord. I have traveled so far through the dust and the dangers, caring for these ten camels. It’s been such a long journey and I am so tired. Please don’t let me return without a bride for Isaac. Abraham would be so disappointed in me and you. Give me a sign, oh God. Which one should I choose. I won’t say anything or do anything until I hear from you.”