Prayer Saves Time
By Charles F. Stanley
Have you ever come to the end of a day and asked yourself, “Where did the time go?” Most people in our busy culture can relate. Modern life is full of tasks and all kinds of distractions. Knowing how to wisely manage our time and priorities can be difficult.
Genesis 24:1-67 tells the story of someone who lived efficiently. This man—one of Abraham’s servants—was probably a personal assistant of high rank within the household. He may have been Eliezer, the steward who had managed everything Abraham owned 60 years before (Gen. 15:2). Regardless of who he was, the servant was trustworthy and God-fearing. He was given the task of selecting a wife for Isaac, something a groom’s father would normally do.
After a long journey to his master’s homeland, Mesopotamia, the servant was anxious to find a bride and take her without delay to Canaan, where her new family lived.
The Servant and Rebekah
Read Genesis 24:1-67.
- As an act of obedience, Abraham and Sarah had left their homeland many years before this story takes place. How did Abraham know to find a bride for Isaac among his relatives (v. 7)?
In those days, a dowry was given in exchange for a wife, not received along with her. The offering demonstrated to the bride’s family that the groom could provide for her financially. That’s why the servant took along expensive gifts (vv. 10, 22, 53).
The servant turned to prayer for guidance in his search for the right woman, asking God for a sign (v. 12). He chose something that could happen naturally but would be unusual. Because of his pure motives and the significance of his mission, the Lord honored his request. However, such prayers can be presumptuous, especially if we demand a particular outcome. They also have the potential to weaken our faith if we don’t allow God to guide us in what to ask.
- What specifically did he ask the Lord to use as a sign (vv. 13-14)?
- What attributes did Rebekah possess that made her attractive as a potential wife (v. 16)?
Notice that Rebekah’s father Bethuel and Isaac were first cousins (v. 15). Marriage between cousins was not uncommon in ancient times. Also, since Abraham had fathered Isaac very late in life, it makes sense that his son would need to marry someone of the next generation.
Rebekah not only gave the servant a drink, but also offered to water his ten camels (vv. 18-19). One camel can drink up to 20 gallons of water, so her offer wasn’t made lightly. She demonstrated exceptional hospitality, kindness, and humility toward Abraham’s servant, a complete stranger.
- Abraham’s servant told Laban and Bethuel his story (vv. 35-49). How did Rebekah’s kinsmen react (vv. 50-51)?
- What did their reaction reveal about the general spiritual condition of Abraham’s relatives?
- Rebekah’s mother and brother asked for a waiting period of ten days (vv. 55-56). While this is perfectly understandable from a human perspective, what might their request have indicated about their willingness to follow the Lord’s instructions?
- Her mother and brother probably expected Rebekah to desire a delay as well. What might the girl’s response have indicated about her (v. 58)?
Before she met her groom, Rebekah covered herself with a veil, which was symbol of purity, modesty, and submission.
- According to verse 67, in what ways was she a blessing to Isaac?
Abraham’s ambassador could have wasted time looking for his master’s relatives in Mesopotamia before trying to select the right bride from among the many cousins. Prayer allowed his journey to be as short and effective as possible.
- What occupies most of your time right now? How could committing it to the Lord help you be more productive?
Often, we worry about decisions we have to make and end up trying to make the best choice without God’s help. Abraham’s servant relied on the Lord’s guidance rather than his own wisdom.
- Do you have a difficult decision to make right now? If so, what is it?
Abraham’s servant traveled for many days to find Isaac’s bride. He may have preferred to find an eligible woman in Canaan, but he obeyed Abraham, who had been given divine instructions. God may direct us to do something that seems unusual or even foolish. He does not require us to understand His will, but expects us to obey it.
- What has the Lord asked you to do that seemed ill-advised from a worldly perspective, but later turned out to be a wise choice?
The servant stopped to pray silently before trying to find a wife for Isaac.
- How could asking God each morning to establish your priorities for the day help you be more fruitful for His kingdom?
- How would you respond to someone who says, “I just don’t have time to pray”?
Prayer: As you finish this study, turn your worries over to the Lord in prayer. Ask Him to reveal His will for your life, in both large decisions and smaller, time-consuming ones.
How many times have you ever said – I just don’t have time? We may not realize it, but we are all governed by that ticking clock. In Prayer: Our Time-Saver, Dr. Stanley shares with us one of his 30 Life Principles that will help us live life to the fullest every single day. (Watch Prayer--Our Time Saver.)
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