One of my least favorite stories in the Bible is Abraham’s servant finding a wife for Isaac. I don’t mind the story in and of itself, but it’s one of the most repetitive passages in the Bible. Each portion of the story is told at least twice; it’s like listening to someone tell a story who isn’t very good at telling a story. Every time I read Genesis 24 I find myself thinking, “All right, get on with it.”
I know that biblical writers often repeated phrases or stories to offer emphasis. I understand this in other portions of scripture, but in this story it just seems extraneous. I just read about how the servant prayed to God; I don’t need to hear him recount the prayer word-for-word to Laban. The Bible doesn’t tell us how the Trinity works or give us a scientific dissertation on the creation of the universe, but we get to read the servant’s story and then hear him tell the same exact story.
As little affinity as I have for this story, something did stick out to me as I was reading it recently. I didn’t enjoy hearing the servant’s prayer twice, but I did enjoy his prayer. He wasn’t shy about asking God for what he wanted. He wanted the right woman for Isaac to give him some water and then water the camels as well. He made that very specific prayer request and, when it was answered, he was overjoyed.
God revealed his faithfulness in that situation by answering the servant’s prayer. How great is it that God has always been showing his faithfulness by answering prayer, even back to the beginning? And even though I don’t really need to hear the recap, the servant’s excitement is palpable as he speaks about God answering his prayer.
That’s one of the reasons why we should bring our requests to God. Our prayer lives should consist of more than just asking for stuff; God isn’t Santa Claus and he wants more from us than a list of desires. However, God wants us to make petitions; he cares for us and when we ask for a loaf of bread he’s not going to give us a stone. Though if I asked for a loaf of bread and God gave me a loaf-sized diamond I probably wouldn’t turn it down.
Beyond wanting to bring his goodness into our lives, making requests of God can also deepen our trust. When we ask for something and God delivers, it’s a reminder of his faithfulness. If Abraham’s servant hadn’t made that specific prayer then, when Rebekah showed up and everything happened, he could have written it off as coincidence. However, because he was clear and specific in his requests of God, he was clearly able to see that God was present and had answered his prayers.
IF we never ask God for anything, we can just assume that all of the good that happens in our live is a coincidence. I asked God for a wife who would love himself more than she loved me. I found Alycia and know that God answered that prayer. Had I not been asking for someone like her, I might have assumed the universe or karma was smiling on me. But the universe doesn’t care about my well-being and karma doesn’t exist. God, however, wants what’s best for me and his providence and sovereignty are definitely real.
God doesn’t always choose to reveal his faithfulness in answered prayer requests. Sometimes we ask God for something, but it doesn’t come to pass. That doesn’t make God any less faithful, it just gives us a different way to trust in him. Instead of trusting in him because he gave us what we want, we can trust in him because he didn’t, believing that he knows what’s best for us.