Michael Youssef - Life-Changing Prayers - Part 3
Charles Spurgeon, one of my great heroes, said the following, and I'm going to quote him. He said, "Though grace does not run in the blood, and regeneration is neither in the blood nor birth, yet it does very frequently happen that God, by means of one of the household, draws the rest to himself. It is not surprising, therefore, that you'll always see in the Bible that faithful prayer, persistent prayer plus unconditional obedience spells an answer to the prayer".
Let this sink in, okay. That's our formula for today, all right. Persistent, faithful prayer plus unconditional obedience equal answers to prayer. If you got that, say amen. This is part b of the message I started last week. When you come to a fork in the road in your life, and you're praying, what do you do? We saw in that last message how Abraham's servant Eliezer, who is really the chief of staff, how he was commissioned by Abraham to go and find a wife for his son Isaac, the son of promise, the son of the covenant. And we saw how Eliezer bathed his journey in prayer. We saw how he followed and obeyed his master's instructions. We saw how he traveled along obedience highway until he got to his destination, and today we're going to see God answering that prayer. Verse 27 of chapter 24 in the book of Genesis.
If you have your Bible, underline it. Eliezer was testifying to the future in-laws of Isaac, and he said, "God guided my steps". Let's say that together. God guided my steps. Eliezer's prayer was very simple. "Lord, help me to recognize the right woman that you already have prepared for Isaac". It's very simple. Eliezer was utterly and completely dependent on God as he traveled to the Ur of Chaldeans. He was utterly dependent on God to guide all of his steps, not just some of them. He did not pray for a miracle, as I mentioned in the last message. He prayed for an indication, for a sign. What does a sign say? When a sign says "to Atlanta," it's just an indication. It says this is the way you get to Atlanta, right? And a sign is very different from a miracle. I'm going to explain that in a minute.
Listen to me carefully. He just said, "I want an indication to be absolutely certain that she's the one". Here he is, a stranger in a strange land, strange place, with a mission. He did have time to work out his strategy papers, all right. He did not have time to work out the pros and the cons. He did not have time to try to figure out the assets and the liabilities. He did not try to use his own judgment and his clever thinking. And I'm not against clever thinking, don't misunderstand me, but he did not do any of that. He fully trusted in the judgment of God, and he threw himself totally on the sovereignty of God, utterly, completely. He just threw himself on the sovereign Lord. How many of you believe that that kind of prayer honors God? Amen, amen.
Eliezer did not ask for a vision. He did ask for supernatural manifestations. He did not ask for angelic appearances, and nothing wrong with that. There is a time and place for that, but that's not what he asked for here. He just trusted the Lord and placed a sign. He said, "If I ask a woman to give me a drink of water, and she voluntarily says, 'Here is water for you. Let me also give water to your camels,' then I will know she's the one. She is the one you have prepared for Isaac". Very simple, isn't it? Very simple. Right, wait until I explain this to you, because I'm gonna come back to this. It's very important you understand what that means, what commitment she's making.
You know, we often talk about putting out a fleece, and we take that from Gideon and say, "Well, you know, you put out a fleece, and say, well, God, you know, what happened"? When we put our fleece, sometimes we really are asking for a supernatural intervention. We're asking for a miracle, not just an indication, and they're two different things. When Gideon put that fleece, and he said, "Well, you know, it's got to get wet. Everything else is dry". Then even when God did it supernaturally, he still, in his doubt, said, "Okay, it gotta be dry. Everything else is wet". I forgot which one comes first, but you get what I mean. He was asking for a miracle. He was asking for supernatural intervention. But an indication or a sign is not a miracle. A sign, or an indication, or a confirmation that you are at the center of the will of God is different.
Now the big question. I raised it last message, and I said I'll answer it in the next message. Is it wrong to place a sign, or to seek confirmation, or to seek an indication whether you're in the will of God or not, or this way is the way of God, or you stand up before the fork, and you say, "Lord, which way"? I've been there several times. Is it wrong? Most often, we are in the New Testament, the Holy Spirit dwells in us, and we pray. And I stood before that fork several times, and I said, "Lord, which way"? And there are times when you hear that beautiful precious voice of the Holy Spirit, where the Bible talks about that small voice, saying, "This is the way. Walk ye in it".
Wow, you want to shout hallelujah, and it's wonderful, and it's great. But let me be realistic. There are times when believers are grieving the Holy Spirit within them because of disobedience. There are times when believers are quenching the Holy Spirit in their lives because of sin. And at that time, they are unable to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit, because when you quench him, and when you grieve him, you silence his voice. So what do you do? You go to a godly friend. That's why the Christian life is not supposed to lone rangers, lived alone. You go to a godly friend. And if he or she is a godly person, they will immediately discern the sin in your life, and encourage you to repent of it, so that the line of communication becomes clear again, so you can hear the voice of the Holy Spirit. But what happens when you are absolutely sure you have not grieved the Holy Spirit.
You have not quenched the Holy Spirit, but you're still unable to discern which way, which door, which direction. Two jobs, they all look wonderful. Which one to go to? And all of these things that happens in our lives, what do you do? Well, I recommend that you do what I do. I don't know which way to go. Will you please, in that simplicity, shut all the other doors. Keep one open. And I'm telling you, I testify to the Lord's faithfulness, and he had done that with me over and over and over again. So you can seek the will of God in a variety of ways.
I want you to hear me right on this one. God is not going to be offended when you genuinely want to know which way is his perfect will. That does not offend God at all. I'll tell you what offends God. What offends God is, knowing his will, you bulk about obeying it. That offends him. What offends God is that when your curiosity wants to know the will of God in the hope that he agrees with you, or that his will fits with yours. And Eliezer, while he was totally dependent on the sovereign choice of God, he had some criteria. He had some qualities that the wife of the son of the covenant must have. No, it was not one of those shallow things that most people look for. It was not one of those worldly things that a lot of people look for. It was basically according to Abraham's instruction, it has to be a God-fearing from Abraham's household, from his clan. Then secondly, the son of the covenant must marry a virtuous woman. She has to be a virtuous woman. And thirdly, that she has to have a servant's heart. A servant's heart.
Now let me digress just for a moment, just for a moment. This is an aside. It's a little bonus that for single people, you just take it, and you tuck it away in the brain. And whether you're young or old, if you are a teenager, just remember that when you get married ten years from now, all right? There is one statement when you are choosing a spouse, one phrase that you must never, never, never, never, never, never, never utter out of your lips. "Oh, he will change. Oh, she will change". You got it? You see, if Abraham's believes this foolish advice, he would have sent Eliezer across the street, not across the desert. You see, Abraham knew that the Canaanite women were hell raisers, and so did Eliezer, and that is why Eliezer's sign was that she has to have the beauty of holiness, not the beauty of Max Factor.
Please listen carefully. God overrules our foolishness, yes he does. He overrules our foolish mistakes, but that does not mean that you tempt God by going and being married unequally yoked, and then force God's hand to intervene in your situation. That is tempting God. That's presuming on God, amen? Remember the formula, because effectual prayer has to have absolute unconditional obedience. Faithful prayer plus unconditional obedience equals answered prayer. Now you must not miss the point that I'm going to make here. While Rebekah offered to give water to thirsty camels, she was actually committing herself to long hours of hard work and sweat. She really was.
Let me explain it to you. You see, a camel drinks 12 gallons of water. Back then, they carried, the jar they put down in the well, it was basically about a gallon size. There were ten camels. You can do the math. I flunked math, but I still can figure it out. A hundred and twenty times, pushing this thing down, pulling it back up. Feeding those miserably thirsty camel, and then back again, and pulling that thing, and putting it down, 120 times. Now single men, what does this say to you? Well, look for a woman who's not afraid to water camels. What does that mean? I have absolutely no idea, but sounds good. It sounded good at the time.
But listen to me. While I truly do not make light of the fact how hard that was, and believe me, that was hard work. That took hours. I don't want to make light of that, but there's something else that she did that was of uttermost importance, and it towers over her willingness to work hard. Do you know what it is? It was her willingness to go with Eliezer. That's an incredible thing. Think about it, think about it. She was not going to Alabama. I mean, this was not just, you know, east coast, west coast. No, no, no. Not on airplanes. At that time, for her, that meant that she might never see her family again. It meant that she might never go home again. It meant that she will never see her mother again. It meant that she will never celebrate holidays with the family again. This is a long, long way away.
As I was preparing this, and my mind wandered in gratitude to God for something that happened in my life. Back in 1969, I'll never forget that night. It was 3 a.m. at Cairo airport. The flight was at 5 a.m. Some of my siblings were with me at the airport, 3 a.m. The plane was fully booked, and 50 people waitlisted. And if I did not make it on that plane, I would probably be dead. Out of the 50 people waitlisted and waiting there, one seat cancellation. That was mine. I was called to that seat. And then when I hugged my siblings to say goodbye, it was very clear to all of us, I was barely not quite 20 years old, but it was very clear that if politics in the area have not changed, I most likely would never see them again.
And so that was it. They may never be able to get out, and I thought that was it. God was gracious, and eight years later, I got there by a special invitation, in fact. That's another long story. But at the time, all that mattered to me as I was reflecting is that I am going to fulfill God's purpose in my life, and that all that mattered. Now, to be sure, in Eliezer's case and in Rebekah's case, he had come in with ten camels, loaded with gifts from Isaac to his future mother-in-law. I mean, just think about it. He's a smart thinker, that Isaac guy, I'm telling you. You know, they say behind every successful man is a surprised mother-in-law? She was not surprised. She saw it right away.
I mean, in one of the greatest questions in the Bible, one of the greatest questions was asked, "Will you go with this man"? I'm guessing here, but I think probably Rebekah's mother saw all these camels loaded with gifts, standing right there behind her. She said, "You betcha. Get on that camel, honey". So single ladies, if he shows up repeatedly empty handed, dump him. There's a Youssef proverb here that goes something like this. "Empty hands, empty head".
Listen, I followed my own advice, and it worked. Verse 40. "Listen to the testimony of Abraham's faith, as it is repeated and announced to those future in-laws of Isaac by Eliezer." Mark verse 40. It's a magnificent verse. He as telling them what Abraham said to them before he left. He said, Abraham said, "The Lord before whom I walked will send his angels with you and make your journey a success, so that you can get a wife for my son from my own clan and my father's family". In the last message, I told you, Isaac is a type of Christ, and Rebekah is a type of the church. And when the question presented to her, "Will you go with this man," her faith willed up within her, and she said, "Yes, I'll go". Long journey ahead. "Yes, but I will go".
Uncertain future in a strange land. "Yes, but I will go". Uncertain in travel. "Yes, but I'll go". Uncertain of what kind of a man Isaac is. "Yes, but I will go". Uncertain of what kind of a life she's going to lead. "Yes, but I will go". I guess she figured out that a future husband who is so generous to send ten camels loaded with gifts will be all right. Beloved, listen to me. Those words, "I will go," have been repeated from the mouths of faithful wives of missionaries for hundreds of years, knowing the danger, knowing the difficulties, knowing the problems ahead and the harshness of the environment in which they go, but they said, "We'll go". But more importantly, these words have been uttered from the lips of millions of people around the globe.
Most people to whom "Leading the Way" ministers around the world, whenever they say yes to Jesus, they get thrown out of their homes. They get thrown out of their families. They get thrown out of their jobs. They get thrown out of society. They get thrown out of the circle of friends, and yet millions of them would say, "Yes, Jesus," every single day. Millions of people, when the question is asked of them, will you take Jesus as your only Savior and Lord? Will you obey him? Will you serve him? Will you love him with all your heart, or will you forsake old relationships? Will you forsake old sins? Will you forsake old habits? Or will you live under his authority and the authority of his word? Will you be faithful to him as he has been faithful to you? Will you honor him with your substance? Will you honor him with your time? Will you place him first and foremost in your life?
And many of them, every single day, say, "Yes, Lord, I will go". But then who wouldn't say yes to a loving, generous, kind, forgiving, merciful, and gracious bridegroom like this? This is the kind of husband who loved us so much that he lavished us with his gifts, that he gave everything for us. He sacrificed his life for us. He cares about every single detail of your life and mine. He makes you to be the object of his concern 24/7. Will you go with Jesus? Will you go with Jesus? Let the answer of everyone at the sound of my voice be yes. Yes, I'll go.