Summary: Abraham's servant didn't pray to his god... he prayed to Abraham's God. Why did he do that, and what can that servant's appeal to God teach us about prayer?
OPEN: A woman was telling about her brother and wife were expecting another baby. Hoping to get her 4 year old niece to talk about it… she asked her "What do you want, a baby brother or a baby sister?” “Aunt Donna,” she chided, “sometimes you just gots to take what God gives ya.” (Donna Patton, Hillsboro, OH. Christian Reader, "Lite Fare.")
A lot of people approach prayer that way. They don’t think it matters what you pray because God’s gonna give ya, what God gonna give ya anyway, so why bother? It’s not going to make any difference!
But the Bible has a different take on prayer. Psalm 81:10 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.”
James puts it this way “You do not have, because you do not ask.” James 4:2
In other words: God’s wants to give ya… what YOU want Him to give ya. So pray! Ask! Seek! Knock on the door! Or, as Jesus said it: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7
The Bible is filled with passages like the one we read today that tell of God answering very specific prayers in a very specific ways. Now, we all know there are several reasons why God might not answer our prayers: If it’s not in God’s Will; If it’s not God’s Timing; If we ask with wrong motives; OR if we have Sin in our lives, and on and on. There’s no question, there are qualifiers as to whether our prayers get answered. But today, we’re not going to focus on why some prayers don’t work or aren’t answered. Instead, we’re going to focus on why THIS prayer did work and was answered.
A LITTLE BACKGROUND: Abraham is an old man, and his only son Isaac is about 30 years old. The time has come for Isaac to take a bride… but there’s a problem. Abraham knows what the girls are like in Palestine, and he’s not pleased. He makes his servant “… swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and God of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites” He knows what these girls are like and he doesn’t want his son dating any of them.
So Abraham makes his servant promise to go back to where Abraham grew up and find a girl for his son. Because - back there - he’s pretty sure there are good girls who have grown up the right way.
Now, what happens next is interesting. The servant saddles up 10 camels, loaded them with gifts and baggage and he makes a 600-mile trip to Haran (the city of Nahor). The journey would have taken him about a week and half. But I was a little surprised to discover that he doesn’t seem to pray before he leaves. And he doesn’t seem to pray while he’s on his way. He doesn’t seem to pray… until he gets there. He gets to Haran and THEN he prays. How come? Why does he wait so long?
Well, I suspect he’s a lot like you and me. Prayer can sometimes be… a kind of an afterthought. He’s been given a mission. He knows his objectives. He hasn’t really given any thought about HOW he’d find a bride for Isaac. But he’s thinking “I’ll worry about that when I get there!” So he doesn’t even think about praying. He knows he’s got a job to do… and he just DOES IT!
Have you ever done that? You’ve got stuff to do… and you just do it. You don’t think about praying because it doesn’t seem necessary. I know I have.
But now, the servant is in Haran and it suddenly occurs to him – he has no idea how he’s going to find a woman that’s the right fit for Isaac, let alone one that would be willing to go 600 miles back home with him. I sense that this servant is overwhelmed by the enormity of his task and he realizes he just might fail Abraham because he really hadn’t thought this thing through. How’s he EVER find a bride for Isaac?
Then he remembers watching Abraham pray. Notice how the servant prays: "O LORD, God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today and show steadfast love to my master Abraham.” Genesis 24:12
Notice how he starts the prayer. He doesn’t say “MY LORD and MY God.” He says “O LORD, God OF MY MASTER Abraham.” He’s not praying to HIS God, he’s praying to Abraham’s God. Why? Because he’s watched Abraham do that in the past and he’s convinced that Abraham’s God is powerful.