Jacob’s Prayer

Claim God’s Promises

“I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant.” Genesis 32:10

Jacob was in trouble. Again. He’d been entangled in some sort of trouble most of his life. He manipulated his older brother, Esau, then deceived their father, Isaac. He escaped Esau’s murderous rage by fleeing to Haran, where his Uncle Laban lived. Laban tricked Jacob into marrying Leah, his older daughter, before allowing Jacob to marry the beloved younger daughter, Rachel. Two sisters married to the same man? We can only imagine the dysfunction in that household.

But in Genesis 32, after twenty tumultuous years in Haran, Jacob packed up his wives, children, herds, and possessions. He was determined to return home and face Esau. Understandably, Jacob was afraid; wisely, he turned to God for help.

“Save me, I pray”

Jacob isn’t known for stellar faith like his grandfather, Abraham; nor do we praise him for the steadfast faith of his father, Isaac. But in Genesis 32:9–12, Jacob voices a prayer that is a model for us all, no matter what circumstances we face.

First, Jacob acknowledged to whom he was speaking: “O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac.” Then he used the covenant name for God—LORD, or Yahweh. Jacob depended on the covenant relationship between God and Abraham’s descendants.

Second, Jacob reminds God of his personal promise to him: “O LORD, who said to me, ‘Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper.’” Jacob is saying, “This was your idea, not mine. I’m following instructions, so I claim your protection.”

Third, Jacob humbled himself. He admitted his unworthiness of all the blessings God had given him and recognized God was the source of all he had (v. 10). Finally, Jacob repeated the promise God gave him twenty years previous at Bethel (Genesis 28:13–15).

God answered Jacob’s prayer. The reunion between the two brothers was peaceful and constructive. Although they may never have been best friends, the Bible records no further disharmony between the brothers or their families during their lifetimes.

When we face difficulty, we can depend on God’s aid if we, like Jacob, claim God’s promises and humbly ask him to honor them. What promise do you need to claim in your current circumstances?

DIG DEEPER

Read Genesis 28:10–15 and 31:3. What had God promised Jacob? How should those promises have alleviated the fears Jacob expressed in 32:11?

What relationship do you see between Jacob’s prayer in Genesis 32:9–12 and what occurred in verses 22–30? What do you think God was demonstrating to Jacob?

Read Jacob’s affirmation of God’s faithfulness in Genesis 48:15–16. Could you make a similar statement to your children or grandchildren? Why?

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