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An Answer to Prayer or Simply a Coincidence Eliezer's Task
Intuition, Coincidence, or Real Answers to Prayers
Have you ever had an experience where you have been guided or directed in some way to an unimagined end result and you just can't figure out exactly how it happened? Or possibly, have you felt some outside guidance in the form of direction, and then just dismissed the prompting as simply a great idea you came up with, when you knew that by yourself you would have never come up with it?
Some may explain this phenomenon as just plain intuition, while others may dismiss it as a mere coincidence. Looking with an outsider's perspective can sometimes give us evidence that there is more to it than these explanations alone. I found this to be the case as I studied the story of the Old Testament prophet Abraham's servant, Eliezer of Damascus.
Abraham is in need of service from his servant Eliezar.
The story that I am referring to is found in the 24th Chapter of the Book of Genesis in the Old Testament. I believe this could be among one of the greatest examples to be studied to illustrate this exact "phenomenon".
At this point in the life of the great prophet Abraham, he is "old and well stricken with age." Similar to each of us, he as already lived through some tough challenges and has received some incredible blessings. One of the great blessings he receives is the promise of continued posterity through his sons, Ishmael and Isaac, unfortunately Isaac is still single and in need of a proper spouse for this blessing to continue through him.
With his understanding of the importance of marrying within the covenant bloodline, Abraham seeks for his son to marry from the daughters of one of his own kindred in the city of Nahor; (this is the place where his brother Nahor and his wife Milcah remained after their flight from Egypt). In an effort to have this important event happen, Abraham asks his trusted servant Eliezer to go to this city and find a suitable wife for his beloved son, Isaac.
How the whole process unfolds is an incredible story of the pattern of "ask and it shall be given unto you."
This is the text of the 24th Chapter in the Book of Genesis, in the King James version of the Bible.
Prayer As An Essential Tool
Eliezer makes a promise, or swears by an oath, that he will give his best effort to the task at hand. He has some concerns right at the beginning of the assignment as to whether the woman he is going to retrieve will be inclined to come with him, but Abraham assures him, that if he gives it his best effort, and the woman still chooses not to return with him, he would be clear of his promise. With that stipulated Eliezer sets out on the journey, with ten camels and all the provisions he would need.
Eliezer is a man of God, and as he comes to his destination before he enters the city, he takes time to pray.
When we are given a challenging task, or face an important decision in our lives prayer is a tool that is always available to us, just as it was to him. By looking at the prayer Eliezer gives, we find a perfect example of how we should request help from the Lord.
With the realization that his responsibility is to make sure his best effort is given to the task, Eliezer specifically sets forth a plan, and then waits for a confirmation from the Spirit as to the correctness of his course. Many times we rely solely on the Lord to tell us every move we should make when he has given us our own intelligence to try to figure things out for ourselves, then wait for that confirmation that He gives. This allows us to use the wonderful gift of agency that He has given us to choose the course of our life. It also gives us experience in problem solving, one of the greatest assets we can gain.
The plan Eliezer comes up with is very specific, and he also has specific requests. He asks for the Lord's help to make it happen and make it happen quick, from the very beginning,
"O Lord God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send me good speed this day, and shew kindness unto my master Abraham."
He then sets out with a detailed plan of action so that he can recognize the Lords' will as it is accomplished.
THE PLAN that Eliezer comes up with in his prayer.
"Behold, I stand here by the well of water; and the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water: And let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that thou hast shewed kindness unto my master."
Rebekah at the Well With Eliezer
Eliezer has his prayer answered with exactness
What happens next, according to the account in Genesis, is that "before he had done speaking" the Lord sends a confirmation to his plan. He answers Eliezer's plea in the exact order of its petition:
- 1) Rebekah comes to the well with her pitcher on her shoulder
- 2) Eliezer has an exchange in conversation with her requesting water to drink
- 3) She gives him to drink
- 4) She then volunteers to draw water for all of his camels to drink
- 5) And, proceeds to fill the trough and gives them water until they are full. (And by the way, that is a heck of a lot of water!)
I love the recorded response that Eliezer has concerning this experience...
"And the man wondering at her held his peace, to wit whether the LORD had made his journey prosperous or not."
I can almost hear the wheels turning in Eliezer's head as he may have thought to himself, "Wow! That was sure a coincidence!"
How many times do we have direct answers to our prayers and then neglect to consider the Lord's hand in our lives?
Sometimes our prayers are not answered within the time limit we would like, and sometimes they are not always answered in the way we would like, but they are always answered.
Think to Thank- is the next prayer Eliezer shows us to do.
The lesson does not end here. I think one of the most important things that we can learn from, and about Eliezer, is demonstrated by his physical response as soon as he realizes just how directly he has been given the answer to his prayer.
"The man bowed down his head, and worshipped the LORD."
In this process of realization that Eliezer exhibits, the reminder of a force much greater than he comes into view, and he takes the time to thank the Lord for His influence in his life. He understands that the Lord had heard his plea and answered his prayer..
I have come to understand that there is most certainly an outside force that directs my life in ways that only He can understand fully. That force is the Spirit who whispers to my mind thoughts, inspirations, and pure revelation from my Father in Heaven.
My best effort is given when I humble myself, put off my pride, and submit my will to conform to His will. One of the greatest ways to understand life and its challenges is to learn from the example and experience of others.
As a Christian, and member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I have learned that many of life's lessons can be learned by turning to the Bible. I am thankful for the example recorded in scripture that can guide me in my life and help me to reach the potential that I have been given.
Food for Thought Concerning Prayer
An answer to prayer, or simply one of life's coincidences, what do you think?