June 14, 2018
12 Then he prayed, “Lord, God of my master Abraham, make me successful today, and show kindness to my master Abraham. 13 See, I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water.14 May it be that when I say to a young woman, ‘Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too’—let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac. By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master.”
Today’s text jumps us forward a stretch from yesterday’s incident of the near sacrifice of Isaac. While Isaac no doubt continued to recover from the most horrifying event of his life, Abraham sent a servant on a mission to find him a wife. It was a high pressure situation, requiring the servant to swear a rather awkward yet serious oath to Abraham.
The servant had a job to do and he wanted to do it well. He knew he needed help, so he made it a matter of prayer. Let’s examine the prayer.
Then he prayed, “Lord, God of my master Abraham, make me successful today, and show kindness to my master Abraham.
Here’s where the prayer gets pretty interesting.
See, I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water.14 May it be that when I say to a young woman, ‘Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too’—let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac.
This servant had no control over the situation yet he dared to visualize a quite specific outcome. It was not a miracle or some kind of sign or supernatural wonder he requested. Neither is it a random kind of confirmation. The servant was looking for a certain kind of extraordinary response which would perhaps signify an extraordinary kind of person.
It is speculative to suggest this, but I wonder if the servant knew what he would pray when he opened his mouth. Often when I pray I enter into a zone of interaction with God much like I enter a conversation with another person. In a conversation with someone I have a sense of what we will talk about but I don’t know exactly what I am going to say. It’s like that when I pray. I might begin by praying in a certain way but once I’m into it I find myself thinking and saying things I never imagined I would say. It’s because prayer takes me out of the driver’s seat and allows Jesus to take the wheel.
In my experience, the Holy Spirit shapes my prayers as I pray. I’m speculating, but I think this is what happened that day as Abraham’s servant prayed. In the act of praying he was led in how to pray.
Prayer creates a dynamic context for revelation in real time. It opens up a space for the working of the Holy Spirit to guide our understanding and discernment in ways they would not have gone otherwise. The letter to the Hebrews gets at what I am trying to convey.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, Hebrews 10:19-22
Prayer means confident movement into the Most Holy Place in this new and living way where new things can happen. More on this later as we enter the New Testament section of our study on prayer.
Most days we find ourselves in pressure-filled situations. We are out of our depth, beyond our resources, or up a creek without a paddle. We don’t know what to do. Too often, we turn inward and dwell on our anxiety, turning it over in our mind, and because we feel desperate before God we consider ourselves praying. What if we could walk into a new room, open up a new kind of conversation with God, and allow Jesus to take the wheel for a bit? He’s a great driver.
Lord Jesus, you are right here, right now. So often my prayer life is flat and even rote. It is like I am on the outside looking in. You, are the new and living way. Open my mind and heart to enter into your life of prayer. By your Spirit, usher me into the inside where I can see out clearly. Right here, Jesus. Right now, Jesus. Amen.
- What do you think of this speculation I am making about the servant’s prayer that day?
- How do you relate to this idea of the Holy Spirit shaping our prayers as we pray– leading us in directions we would not have otherwise gone?
- Do you remember a time when prayer came alive to you in a “new and living” way? What was that like?
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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. firstname.lastname@example.org.