Today is the last Sunday and we will spend some time together to pray. So to prepare for that, I will want us this morning to consider something briefly about prayer. Here is what we will consider, Our title is Praying With Eliezer. Eliezer is the name of the only mentioned servant of Abraham we know by name so it is safe to say the servant in the text is Eliezer (Genesis 15:2).What Is Prayer? How Are We To Pray? Why Must We Pray?
In this chapter, Abraham is presented to us as an old man who God has blessed. (v.1). These opening words are like a summary of Abraham’s life. The first time we heard of Abraham in the Bible, he was a younger man living with his father. ( We can see this in Genesis 11:27-31. We won’t read, just note it ). And By the time we got to Chapter 24, he was an old man. In fact, before Chapter 24, he has buried Sarah (Chapter 23:19-20).
The text also points us to the faithfulness of God to his Covenant with Abraham. “And the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things” (v.1). Tracing back the path of Abraham, God called him in Genesis Chapter 12, made a covenant with him, promised him blessings from which the world will be blessed. This covenant is fully spelt out in Genesis 15 where the Bible tells us Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness. This Covenant also actually points forward to God’s salvation through Jesus Christ. Paul shows us this clearly in Galatians
“Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith (Galatians 3:7-9)
And what is this blessing? Paul again says “so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.” The blessing is simply salvation or regeneration to all who will believe in Jesus. But brethren, I know we are careful not to fall in the error of the prosperity gospel. So we tend to shy away from speaking about blessings materially. Look at what Genesis 24:1 says again “And the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things.” Material blessings is also from God. In his providence, he cares for his own. So this morning we will ask God for success in Prayers.
Now after burying Sarah, Abraham perhaps prepares for his own departure. And he ensures he puts his family in order. So he sent Eliezer on a mission to find a wife for Isaac. In this mission, Abraham gives some clear instructions and puts his servant under oath (vv.1-4). The instructions given were two-fold; (i) a wife shouldn’t be chosen from the Canaanites among whom Abraham dwells (vv.2-3), rather, (ii) a wife should be chosen from Abraham’s family or country(v.4). The reason may be what the Canaanites were known for. They were a people under a curse and Abraham will not want marriage from amongst them. Also, it’s part of the land Abraham has been promised to possess. They are to us a picture of the world to which we should not be unequally yoked. (Genesis 9:25;Genesis 15:18-21). Also, I personally think this instruction not to choose a wife from among the Canaanites for Isaac foreshadows Christian marriage. We are not to be yoked together with unbelievers in marriage. But most importantly, this is a picture of a man careful to keep the covenant God made with him.
This holy man was careful of the purity of his family; he knew what an ill-effect a Canaanite wife might have upon his son, and also upon his offspring. He was, therefore, particularly careful here. I would that all parents were the same. C. H. Spurgeon
Now the servant sets forth on his mission and under oath. From the vv.12-26, we see a prayer recorded and from this prayer, we will pick some lessons
What Is Prayer?
This might appear like an irrelevant question. Shouldn’t I assume everyone knows what prayer is. The Bible indeed has a lot to say about prayer. (Luke 18:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:17; Philippians 4:6; James 1:5; Jeremiah 33:3). These verses are not exhaustive, but they give us a picture of the necessity of prayer in the Bible. In fact majority of the Psalms, if not all of it are prayers. So what is Prayer? Basically, prayer is communication with God. That means talking to God. Now lets approach a more technical definition for prayer (WestMinster Shorter Catechism Question 98)
Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God,1 for things agreeable to his will,2 in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgment of his mercies.
How Must We Pray
Prayer Is To Be Directed To God (v.12)
Every true prayer offered must be offered to God. And we see this clearly in the text. The prayer was directed to God. The servant addressed the God of Abraham. That leaves no room for doubt here is being prayed to. The object of our prayer is God. We don’t pray to dead saints. We don’t pray to dead relatives or ancestors. We pray to God. Jesus taught his disciples and by extension us to pray to “Our Father in heaven”.
Prayer Is A Plea (v.12)
“Please grant me ”. These words point us to one who is making a plea to God. We all know what the word “Please” is. It is commonly a sign of respect and a request. In the original language, it carries with it the idea of making entreaties, beseeching or begging. And when we come to God in prayer, we plead, we entreat him. Nowadays many people have turned prayer into “decreeing and declaring” which is no prayer at all.
Prayer Makes Specific Request
We listen to the prayers of the servant and he was specific in his prayer. He requested specifically for success in the mission he has been sent on. When you and I come to God, we must be prepared in our hearts and mind to entreat God of our desires. The catechism tells us “Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God”. That’s what this servant did. He was specific: “Grant me success.” Do we ask God for success in our endeavours? Do we ask God to bless our work? Do we ask God to grant us success in life? We must
Prayer Is An Acknowledgement of God’s Sovereignty
The servant didn’t just pray, but he prayed for guidance that God will lead him to the one he has appointed for Isaac. This is instructional. In all of our prayers, we should acknowledge God has the final say in the answer to our prayers. He is the Almighty, Sovereign God. Should we ask God for signs? I think this was the practise of the culture then which is popularly called laying a fleece which is taken from Judges 6. Are we also to ask signs from God for our prayers? No. rather what this will teach us in principle is Faith in God.
Prayer Must Be Offered In Faith (vv.15-17)
Prayer must be offered in faith knowing that God hears us. This faith must lead us to take action where action is required. Note that after the servant had prayed, he approached Rebekah and made specific requests of her; those things on which he has prayed to God. Now this faith, for the believer must be in the person of Jesus Christ for he is the mediator through whom our prayer will be offered to God.
Prayer Must Be Offered With Thanksgiving (v.26-27).
After everything has unfolded, the servant praised God. In our prayers, we must be thankful and acknowledge the hand of God. Perhaps, we must also watch and thank God when our prayers are answered. Prayer is important in our Christian walk and we must endeavour indeed to make prayer a daily part of our lives. Let’s pray that we will not only talk about the ideals of prayer but rather, we would pray.
Why Must We Pray?
- Because prayer is required of God (Philippians 4:6).
- Because God answers prayers (v.27).
After everything, this servant will acknowledge that God has answered his prayer