Isaac. Meditation. Genesis 24:63

It’s easy to make the case that prayer, as an active representation of relationship with God, is a central theme of Scripture. Prayer permeates the Old Testament stories, underpins the Psalms, is foundational to the prophets, and is front and centre of the development of the early Church. And of course, Jesus often looked for quiet places to pray (Luke 5:16).

I’m often told that contemplative prayer doesn’t appear in Scripture. I’m not convinced. I tend to disagree. Here’s one of the first instances which attracts my attention.

In Genesis 24, we read the story of Isaac meeting his wife, Rebekkah, for the first time. There is a moment when Isaac, sitting quietly out in the fields, looks up and sees the approaching camels bringing the servant of his father, Abraham, and Isaac’s new wife, Rebekkah. 

In verse 63, there is a Hebrew word לָשׂ֥וּחַ. Don’t worry about how to pronounce the word! Your Bible will probably have a footnote next to this word, telling you that the word is difficult to translate from the Hebrew. That means that we can never be completely sure exactly what meaning was intended by the writer of Genesis. The nearest translation we can get is ‘meditate’, and this is reflected in English and most modern language translations.

So, here’s the picture. Just before Rebekkah arrived at her new home, Isaac went out to the field to meditate. Isaac went out in the evening, away from his tents, away from his people, away from his animals, away from his responsibilities, to be on his own in the pasture. There is the sense of being alone. There is the sense of thoughtfulness. There is the sense of contemplation.  

62 Now Isaac had come from Beer Lahai Roi, for he was living in the Negev. 63 He went out to the field one evening to meditate,f] and as he looked up, he saw camels approaching. 

Richard Jackson is the former Executive Director of Christian charity Family Foundations Trust, and an international coach for CCI Worldwide