Prayer for Guidance

And he said, “O LORD, God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today and show steadfast love to my master Abraham. Behold, I am standing by the spring of water, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water. Let the young woman to whom I shall say, ‘Please let down your jar that I may drink,’ and who shall say, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels’ — let her be the one whom you have appointed for your servant Isaac. By this I shall know that you have shown steadfast love to my master.
— Genesis 24:12-14 (ESV)

Eliezer prayed this prayer. This is the first recorded prayer in the bible, and it is a prayer for divine guidance.

Eliezer is a trusted servant of Abraham. He is an ordinary person like us. He is so ordinary that his name is not even mentioned in the entire story in Genesis chapter 24. We know his name from an earlier reference in Genesis 15:2. Eliezer prayed a simple prayer, and it was effective. God answered his prayer.

Abraham entrusted Eliezer with an important task. Eliezer was to find a wife for his master’s son, Isaac. Abraham gave very specific instructions. The woman must not be from among the Canaanites. Eliezer had to go back to Abraham’s homeland in Mesopotamia and find a suitable young woman from among his relatives. The distance was long, and the journey arduous. To find an attractive woman is easy, but to find one with good character in such a short time is a tall order.

“How am I going to find the right woman for Isaac?” Eliezer must have thought to himself as he took the hazardous journey with a few other servants and ten camels loaded with expensive gifts. Eliezer is probably a resourceful person for Abraham to send him on such an important mission. But Eliezer knows the difficulty of the task. Even if he could find a good woman, she might not be willing to follow him back to Canaan.

Eliezer prayed a simple prayer, and it was effective. God answered his prayer.

What did Eliezer do? He prayed and sought God to help him. He knows the power of prayer. His name is a testimony to that. Eliezer means ‘my God is help.’

There are three precious lessons that we can learn here concerning praying to God for guidance.

First, put your trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6). That was what Eliezer did. Though he was a capable and resourceful man, he did not rely solely on his own judgement. He committed the matter to the LORD. He prayed earnestly to God to show steadfast love to his master and grant him success in his endeavour. Then, he waited for God to help him.

So often, we put our trust in our own abilities. We might not be consciously aware of it, but our action betrays us. Unless we are desperate, we do not pray seriously. We merely go through the motion of prayer. It is both necessary and helpful for us to cultivate a spiritual posture of trust and utter dependence on God if we want to enjoy God’s guidance and the blessing of answered prayer.

Second, Eliezer was specific in his prayer. He was looking for a kind and hospitable young woman. So, he prayed that the woman would not only give him a drink as requested but also volunteer to draw water for his camels.

If you know anything about camels at all, you would see that it is not easy to find such a woman. Conservatively, a camel can drink up to 100 litres of water in just 10 minutes, and Eliezer had ten thirsty camels. Let us assume that just 20 litres of water is enough for each camel. Ten camels times 20 litres equal 200 litres. If each water jar can hold 5 litres, that woman must draw water from the well, walk to the trough and pour into it 40 times. That is a lot of work.

So often, we put our trust in our own abilities. We might not be consciously aware of it, but our action betrays us.

Eliezer was specific with his request because he wanted to be sure that he had selected the right woman for his master’s son. And God answered his prayer by sending Rebekah, who did exactly as he had prayed. That is amazing.

It is not a problem for us to be specific in our prayers. But we must be open if God chooses to answer our prayers differently. Just know that God is good, and He wants to give us the best. But His best may not quite fit our desires. Sometimes, God answers us according to what we ask. Sometimes, He does not. Either way. It is for our good.

Finally, reflect on God’s answer. Do not be too quick to jump to conclusion especially if it is something we want so badly. Most people tend to interpret things according to the desire of their hearts. Therefore, you want to be sure by carefully considering if God has spoken.

Eliezer did not jump to conclusion hastily despite Rebekah doing precisely what he had prayed. He observed her silently until Rebekah had finished watering his camels (Genesis 24:21-22). That took a while. Eliezer was patient because he wanted to be sure that Rebekah was God’s choice. He is a wise man.

Pastors Leslie & Adeline Chua