We are at a wonderful time in the dispensation of the fullness of time, there are temples dotting the earth, access to learning through the Come Follow Me course of study and many other resources, opportunities to serve on so many levels and the ability to become our best self. There are also famines, droughts, wars, and atrocities throughout the world as well. Yet, if we truly desire to give our best efforts in building, supporting, and strengthening God’s kingdom, we would be wise to discover how to best know God’s plan for us.
A key resource in discovering how we can best serve Heavenly Father and His children is through meaningful and purposeful prayer.
In Mark Batterson’s book, The Circle Maker, he explains how his prayers took a dramatic turn after he read what a pastor in a Seoul, Korea church once said,
“God doesn’t answer vague prayers.”
The scriptures are replete with examples of what specific prayers look like. Let’s see if we can learn from Eliezer’s approach and discover ways in which we can share these insights with those to whom we serve.
Gain a Personal Commitment to Your Work
In Genesis 24 we see how, Eliezer, Abraham’s eldest servant and steward of his house, cares deeply about his mission. He covenants with Abraham to find Isaac a wife among his kindred and not among the Canaanites. Eliezer truly desires to have a conversation with the woman that Father knows would best help Isaac continue the work of God which has been a part of his family.
Not only is Eliezer desirous to find a wife as specified by Abraham, but based upon his very specific prayer, it would also appear that he understands the role this woman will play in the continued, righteous progress of the covenant people. Thus, he is not looking for just any woman, but one who is appointed to truly be a help meet.
Prepare for Success
As we see in the narrative, Eliezer was prepared for success because he began his quest by bringing ten camels laden with his master’s goods. Thus, when he found her, and he was confident he would, he had the necessary resources to accomplish obtaining permission to bring her back to Isaac.
When we are striving to successfully accomplish a specific task for Father, do we prepare for success? As a leader, when we are working on getting to know members in our congregation, do we make ready for home visits by arranging an appointment where possible instead of just dropping in? If we are having to drop in because they are not a regular attender, do we prepare in advance with pondering on what would be a meaningful message of caring when they open the door? Do we ask for Father’s help in getting them to open the door and bring along a token of caring? Consider the abundance of yummy home-grown vegetables and tomatoes as an easy way to open doors. Plus, if they aren’t there, we can leave a handwritten note with our contact information, so they know we were thinking of them.
As we have the faith to expect success in doing Father’s work, we will find success. Oh, and as a side note, success may look differently than we expected. They may not open the door, or be home, but leaving a heartfelt written message can begin the journey of creating or strengthening a relationship with them. So be sure to have a plan when you go on visits, then people know you dropped by even if they weren’t home. (A note, text, call or card through the mail is a great way to follow up with a visit whether they were there or not.)
Finding them NOT at home may be part of Father’s plan to ease them into getting to know and trust you. Strive for inspiration on how to best let them know the intents of your heart. (Even if they were peering at you through the peep hole in their door but can’t bring themselves to open the door.) Plus, as you continue to make the effort to connect with them, it truly shows both them and Father the intents of your heart.
Be in the Right Place at the Right Time
Eliezer also knew that a woman who served and cared for her family would be going for water in the evening. He wisely placed himself in the right place at the right time to have full advantage of being in an area where Isaac’s future wife could be.
Following the example of visiting a member in their home, if we show up mid-day during the week, unless otherwise directed by Father, or if we know they work second shift, we will not catch them at home. Then this “visit” turns into just checking a box and not truly caring to connect with the person.
Being at the right place may mean going to a little league game when their child is playing or showing up at a school play where the youth you are trying to meet is performing. It may include, where appropriate, going to their work to visit with them. This works well with people who own their own business, but it is also easy to drop in at the local pizza restaurant where one of your youth work and strike up a conversation while they are making your pizza. At these unique events we don’t need to have a “lesson to share,” we just let them know we are there because we care. As we use the combined knowledge of the Ward Council or others who may know the person and their interests, we will have specific insights about that person or family that Father can guide us to use as we strive to develop a relationship with this person.
Ask for and Seek Specific Help
Eliezer then was very specific as he prayed to know how to recognize the woman who was appointed for Isaac. In Genesis 24:14 we read,
“14 And let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that thou hast shewed kindness unto my master.”
Before Eliezer even finished his prayer, Rebecca, arrived at the well and everything unfolded just as he had requested in his prayer.
These are the golden moments of serving God. The person is home and allows us in for a visit. Our preparation pays off and the message we were prompted to share is met with a peaceful understanding between all who are present.
But, if they aren’t there, or don’t open the door, seeking inspiration on what to write in that note AND planning to talk to Father about this person again will help us discover what best next steps they need.
Eliezer then gave all the glory and gratitude to God. He was specific, his prayer was answered specifically, and he didn’t go into puffed up mode, “Look at me, I’m so amazing because I was smart enough to be at the right well at the right time.” Instead, he responded as a grateful servant of God:
“26 And the man bowed down his head, and worshipped the LORD. 27 And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of my master Abraham…”
It is such a wonderful feeling to know we have been the hands of the Lord and it is natural to rejoice in that joy. It is also wonderful to celebrate with Father as we thank him for His inspired and inspiring help. Thus, as we report back to the Ward Council or our quorum or relief society president, we can share that joy with them. AND, if they comment on how great we are at getting in to visit people, it is easy to respond, “Father is great at getting us where we needed to be at a time when they would be open to our visit.” This also might be an appropriate time to teach them the “Eliezer Approach to Prayer.”
Being Courageously Bold
Like Eliezer Many years ago, when I first read the exchange of Eliezer in his prayer to God, I thought he was a bit presumptuous to be so specific. Now that I have had more experience in the importance of having specific prayers, I would say Eliezer knew Father well and could meekly and courageously ask for specific help in doing the work of the Lord, or other righteous endeavors.
As we strive to gain a testimony of our work, prepare for success, be specific in our prayers and show gratitude for Father’s successes, we will know with surety, that we are where we are supposed to be, doing what we are supposed to do. That, my friends, is a peaceful place to be.
Beth Young is a convert of 44 years; served a mission in North Carolina; has been married for 35 years to her sweetheart, Bob; has five adult children and two grandchildren. She raised her family in Texas for 25 years where she served in various capacities in church and in her community. She moved to Utah four years ago and loves writing, teaching and inspiring others to make changes to their physical, mental, and spiritual health. Beth is the owner of 5 Pillars of Health, is a certified Tai Chi Instructor, serves as the written content manager at Leading Saints, and is a master gardener.
My co-youth leader and I were brought to tears when one boy in our quorum prayed for another boy, who had decided to stop participating with the church, by name and prayed for God to help him on his path. We are so accustomed to very vague prayers at church, it was shocking and wonderful to hear a specific prayer for a specific person.
I appreciate the pattern for prayer you’ve shared here. Thanks.
Thanks, Adam. It is so powerful when we pray for a specific person with a specific need. That young boy in your quorum totally got it and will be a blessing to many.