The Lord answers prayer. The Bible teaches that God is a responsive God. When His children speak to Him, God responds in some way. The question is, as His children, can we recognize His response, and will we acknowledge His response as answered prayer? The Bible shows both sides of God's prayer - the massively miraculous, and simply subtle. While it can be easier to acknowledge the massively miraculous responses of God to prayer, the Bible often shows that He will respond subtly more often. This means that as God's children, one must be willing to acknowledge the subtle ways of God's responses to prayer, and be prepared to move forward in faith when one recognizes His subtle responses.
For example, in Genesis 24:10-28 the Bible documents the journey of Abraham's servant that was sent out to find a bride of Abraham's son Isaac. The servant was sent into the land of Haran because it was Abraham's old hometown. Abraham did not desire for his son to marry a woman from the land of Canaan where they were living, but instead desired his son to marry someone from his hometown. This required Abraham's servant to journey into a land that he was unfamiliar with, to look for a woman that he never met, that had qualifications that he didn't know about. The servant was responsible for finding this mystery woman, and convincing her to leave her hometown in order to marry a man she had never seen or met, and live the rest of her life as a foreigner in the land of Canaan. These are really tough circumstances, yet these are the circumstances that the servant faced. However, the Bible reveals that when Abraham sent out his servant, he was confident that God would do all of the necessary work to put his servant in the right place at the right time, to meet the right woman that God had foreordained for Isaac as a wife.
Genesis 24:10-28 illustrates that Abraham's servant understood the difficulty of his task. The scriptures reveal that Abraham's servant took his job seriously and wanted to do well by finding the right bride for Isaac. The Bible explains that, upon recognizing the impossibility of his task, the servant prayed to God and asked for His favor. The servant asked God to give him success finding Isaac's bride on account of Abraham. The servant prayed in such a way that reflected his own understanding of God's promises to Abraham so that the servant was praying for God to fulfill His promises. The servant ensured that his prayer was in line with God's will so that his measure of "success" was equal to the desire of God. The servant understood that if he wanted a favorable response from God, he had to ensure that his definition of "success" was in line with God's will. Since the servant understood Abraham's relationship with God, understood God's promises to Abraham, and trusted in God's ability to provide to Abraham, the servant defined "success" as "showing kindness to Abraham."
The servant understood his position as a servant and was focused on submitting his comforts in work in order that the will of his master was done. This servant desired his master to be pleased. Nevertheless, knowing the difficulty of his task, the servant asked God to help identify the woman that his master would desire for Isaac. Needing to stop and rest, when the servant finally got to the region that Abraham mentioned, the servant stopped at a well to get water for himself and his camels. The scriptures mentioned that the servant stopped at the time that was typical for the women to go to the wells to draw water. Genesis 24:10-28 explains that the servant asked God for help in identifying the woman for Isaac in that, if she agreed to give him water, then freely offered extra water for his camels, that would be the woman.
The help that Abraham's servant asked for wasn't much. The servant simply wanted to be able to recognize the woman God had prepared by her kindness and her outgoing desire to serve. Though the servant had specific criteria that he was asking for, the criteria would have only reflected the kind and compassionate temperament of any woman. Yet the Bible explains that God sent Rebekah to the well as the first woman that the servant saw. When the servant saw Rebekah at the well, the scriptures say that he ran over and asked her for water. Rebekah gave him water. The scriptures then say that Rebekah offered the servant water for his camels also - just as Abraham's servant had prayed. The servant received the offer and then responded in faith.
Genesis 24:10-28 explains that when Rebekah offered the water to the camels of Abraham's servant, that he asked if there was room at her father's house to stay the night. The Bible explains that the servant pulled out a gold ring and two giant gold bracelets to give to Rebekah to offer on behalf of Abraham and Isaac. However, the servant was not in need to offer those things yet because God had already been working things out. The Bible explains that Rebekah identified that there was plenty of room and food to stay at her father's house, then identified her father. The Bible then explains that Abraham's servant bowed down to the floor to worship God. When the servant recognized that God had led him to Abraham's relatives, he rejoiced. The servant had asked for success in finding a bride for Abraham's son, and God had led him to Abraham's extended family. The servant knew he couldn't have been more successful and recognized the favor of God!
God's answered prayer is very subtle in this portion of scripture. The servant of Abraham asked God to identify the future wife of Isaac so that the woman who offered water to him and his camels would be the woman. This could have been any woman! Yet the servant trusted that when Rebekah showed up and offered him and his camels water, that was the woman God had in mind of Isaac. The servant didn't ask for more qualifiers. The servant recognized that God had answered his request, and so made efforts to take the next stop to pursue Rebekah as a wife for Isaac. The way that God answered the servant's prayer was nothing spectacular. However, the answered prayer of God facilitated forward movement in the direction that God desired the servant to God. The hospitality of Rebekah allowed the servant to request lodging, which would then allow the servant to make the request to Rebekah's parents to take her back to Isaac. The answered prayer of God did not resemble the work of God to part the Red Sea in terms of magnitude, but God's response was equally powerful and beneficial towards the fulfillment of His promises since God brought the future wife of the patriarch Isaac to the servant. The servant was able to recognize God's favor, responded to God's favor, and rejoiced in His favor, regardless of how spectacular God's favor and response appeared to be. Abraham's servant did as Abraham - he recognized the work and response of God and just moved forward trusting in God, rejoicing along the way!