A surprise encounter offers insights for how to pray for a good day.
Posted in , Feb 11, 2020
It might be surprising to think that my latest idea for an elevator prayer comes from an old Bible story.
First, what is an elevator prayer? It’s the prayer I make when I’m about to get to work. I’m taking the elevator up to the ninth floor, to our offices, and I have a quiet moment alone. What do I want? What should happen with my day?
I pray this: “Make something good happen for me today…” Or in another version: “Grant me success today.” Right out of Scripture.
It comes from the story about Isaac in Genesis. His beloved mother Sarah has died, he’s all of 37 years old, and he needs a wife. His father, Abraham, who is really ancient, says that the perfect woman should be found back in their homeland.
A servant is sent to seek her out, find her and bring her back. Whoever she might be.
You have to pity the servant. Talk about a tough job. How is he to find this woman? What criteria should he use to evaluate her?
He makes the trip and stops at the well where the women are drawing fresh spring water. He has 10 camels with him, and they surely need drink as much as he does. That’s when he says his prayer: “O Lord, God of my master Abraham, grant me success today, I pray thee…” (Genesis 24:12).
He goes on to acknowledge that the perfect woman will be the one who not only gets water for herself but shares some with him and the thirsty camels. In other words, his criteria isn’t beauty or wealth or family traits. It’s generosity.
Just then Rebekah appears. Yes, she’s comely and wellborn, but more importantly, when the lowly servant asks for a drink, she rushes to his aid. Not only that, on her own, she sees the camels and pours water in the trough for them.
Grant me success today. His prayer is answered.
Later when she is asked if she will return with this man to marry Isaac—a complete stranger—she somehow knows it is her calling. “I will go,” Rebekah says. She goes. Isaac marries her, and he finds comfort from the loss of his mother. She is the wife he is meant to have.
There is a lot more about Rebekah. (Wait till we meet her sons Jacob and Esau.) Like so many of the characters of the Bible, she’s not perfect. Her motives can be mixed. But when called, she goes. When judged, she shows her generosity.