Surprised by answered prayer


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Sunday: 11:00am/6:30pm Wednesday: Prayer 7:30pm  

Gregg Street, Lisburn, BT27 5AW

Neuroscience has demonstrated that our brain likes surprises. This is how neuroscientist Gregory Berns from Emory University and Baylor College of Medicine explains it: "We find that so-called pleasure centers in the brain do not react equally to any pleasurable substance, but instead react more strongly when the pleasures are unexpected. This means that the brain finds unexpected pleasures more rewarding than expected ones, and it may have little to do with what people say they like."

I don't know if you life surprises or not, however it seems that a few people in the Bible were surprised by the way God answered their own prayer. When we pray, the Bible says, we should believe and expect an answer. However, we seem to be caught by surprise when God answers. Why? Well, maybe it's a matter of faith, or the lack of it. In any case, it's amazing to see that there are occasions when God surprises us by answering prayer. 

Reading through Genesis I came to chapter 24 where Abraham gives his trusted servant (most likely Eliezer, according top Genesis 15: 1, 2) the great task of finding a wife for Isaac. 

Genesis 24: 3, 4: "Swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and earth, that you will not allow my son to marry one of these local Canaanite women. Go instead to my homeland, to my relatives, and find a wife there for my son Isaac.”

I can only imagine how seriously Eliezer must have taken the task. The future of Abraham's name  are at stake. God said that Abraham's descendants will be as many as the stars in the sky and as many as the sand on the sea shore. That's a lot of people. However, Issac is not married yet. I wouldn't like to be in Isaac's shoes, knowing the great expectation from all those around me do my part in fulfilling God's promise. 

Isaac's wife was to be chosen carefully and she had to be connected to Abraham's family. It's most likely that Eliezer had never been to Lahore's house before. Abraham had said that an angel will go ahead of him and he will make sure Eliezer will find the right woman. But how do you know who is the right one. There is only one answer: prayer!

Eliezer prays one of the most difficult prayers in the Bible: “O Lord, God of my master, Abraham,” he prayed. “Please give me success today, and show unfailing love to my master, Abraham. See, I am standing here beside this spring, and the young women of the town are coming out to draw water. This is my request. I will ask one of them, ‘Please give me a drink from your jug.’ If she says, ‘Yes, have a drink, and I will water your camels, too!’—let her be the one you have selected as Isaac’s wife. This is how I will know that you have shown unfailing love to my master.”

What woman would be willing to draw water by hand using a clay jug and to draw enough to satisfy a group of men and 10 camels? Here is the amazing thing: the answer came "before he had finished praying." When the servant asked Rebekah for water here is what she said: “Yes, my lord,” she answered, “have a drink.” And she quickly lowered her jug from her shoulder and gave him a drink. When she had given him a drink, she said, “I’ll draw water for your camels, too, until they have had enough to drink.”

Let's think about this now. A camel usually needs around 40 gallons (181 litres) of water to be satisfied. You multiply that with 10 and you have 400 gallons (1810 litres) of water. That's nearly two tons of water!!! Waw! That's a lot of water. 

The only conclusion is this: incredible prayers will have incredible answers. There is no wonder why Eliezer was surprised by such an answer: The servant watched her in silence, wondering whether or not the Lord had given him success in his mission. I can picture Eliezer in complete silence thinking: is this really happening? Is this for real or am I imagining this? 

There you have it. Sometimes God surprises us by answering our prayers. Incredible prayers will have incredible answers. The questions remains: would you like to be surprised? 

Tags: surprise, answer, prayer

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