The Prayer of Obedience
Scripture: Genesis 24:1-50
Over the years, I have prayed with countless people a simple prayer for decision-making wisdom: “Lord, which way should Your servant take?” That prayer is based on a prayer found in Genesis 24—the first prayer ever recorded in the Bible. (There are earlier conversations recorded between Adam and God and Abraham and God, but this is the first instance of an individual praying to God in the same way you and I pray to Him.) It was offered by a man so ordinary that his name doesn’t even appear in the chapter. We only know his name because he was briefly mentioned in Genesis 15:2: Eliezer of Damascus, the senior servant in Abraham’s household.
When Abraham is very old, he commissions Eliezer to go to the city of Nahor in Mesopotamia where Abraham’s relatives live. There Eliezer is to find a bride for Abraham’s son, Isaac.
In Genesis 24:12-14, we read that this servant stops on his travels to pray for God to guide him. The fact that Eliezer is not named in this passage suggests that he is a genuinely humble servant who does not seek to glorify himself. And God answers his prayer even “before he had finished praying” (v. 15).
Some people say you should never pray specifically because you may be praying outside of the will of God. But the Bible contains many examples of people praying very specific prayers, like this one, and God honors those prayers. Of course, we need to be flexible when God gives us His answer. He may answer our prayer in a different way than we expect. But we should not fear to be specific when we pray.
Eliezer also understood that prayer is no substitute for action. He prayed—but he kept traveling. He prayed—but he kept his eye on the destination. He prayed—but he kept following the map.
The prayer of Abraham’s faithful servant Eliezer was a prayer for guidance in a decision that would impact the lineage of Jesus the Messiah. The example of Eliezer teaches us this all-important principle: faithful prayer + unconditional obedience = answered prayer.
When you need God’s guidance, when you need answered prayer, pray with a heart of unconditional obedience. Then watch faithfully to see His answer.
When has God answered a very specific prayer in your life?