Hayyei Sarah
For the week of November 10, 2012 / 25 Heshvan 5773
Torah: Bereshit / Genesis 23:1 - 25:18
Haftarah: 1 Melachim / 1 Kings 1:1-31


The Key to Answered Prayer

He said, "Adonai, God of my master Avraham, please let me succeed today; and show your grace to my master Avraham." (Bereshit / Genesis 24:12; CJB)

I wonder how many people would start praying if it was guaranteed God would grant their requests. And if you already pray, would you adjust your prayer methods if you possessed the secret to answered prayer? This week's Torah portion may just contain the hidden key to unlock heaven's infinite resources.

Abraham sent his servant to the land of his relatives to acquire, if possible, a wife for his son Isaac. Upon arriving outside the city wall of Nahor in Mesopotamia, he prayed. He prayed a prayer of occurrence. A prayer of occurrence, according to my own definition, is a prayer where we expect an occurrence of something to indicate the will of God. In the book of Shoftim (English: Judges) for example, Gideon twice seeks to confirm God's will based on the particular conditions of a fleece and the morning dew (see Shoftim / Judges 6:36-40). It's interesting that Gideon already knew what God wanted him to do. He only went through this procedure because he was scared. Yet God cooperated with Gideon's requests. In the case of Abraham's servant, he asked God that if the woman to whom he asks a particular question answers in a particular way, then let her be Isaac's future wife.

And she shows up! He set the prepared question before God, and as if reading a script Rebekah answers exactly as requested. Moreover, we read that she appeared on the scene "Before he had finished speaking" (Genesis / Bereshit 24:15; CJB). Not only did God answer his prayer, he hadn't even finished praying before the answer began to materialize before his eyes. Who would not want to learn how to pray like that!

Many years later Isaiah prophesied that the day would come when God's people would experience answers to prayer in this same fashion. He writes, "Before they call, I will answer; while they are still speaking, I will hear." (Isaiah 65:24; CJB). Perhaps we are in that day, the day when God is so anxious to answer our prayers that he grants our requests before we can hardly get the words out of our mouths. But what do we need to do to get God to respond to us in this way? Abraham's servant holds the key. His prayer demonstrates an essential spiritual principle that if we follow it, there is no limit to what God will do for us.

Heaven's resources were at the disposal of Abraham's servant because he was living out God's plan. He didn't travel all that way to satisfy the whim of his master. Abraham's desire for his son was rooted in God's will. We too can expect God to answer our prayers when we pray his will.

We have to stop praying like we are making lists for Santa; long list of trinkets to satisfy our selfish desires. On the other hand, we need to start praying in the way Yeshua calls us to; for God's will to be done (see Matthew 6:10). That kind of prayer will include desires, but not selfish ones. For those who truly love God often desire the will of God. If we, like Abraham's servant, are living lives committed to fulfilling God's will, then our hearts will long for all sorts of things that have not yet come to pass, but that God himself desires. For some reason we don't understand, God has designed life in such a way that praying for the things he wants is an essential aspect of his accomplishing his work in the world. This is the prayer he longs to answer.

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