Then Jacob prayed, “O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, Lord, you who said to me, ‘Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper,’ I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan, but now I have become two camps. Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, and also the mothers with their children. But you have said, ‘I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.’”
Do you make promises to your friends and family? Are you always able to keep those promises? There are few things worse than a broken promise; they can leave the person who was made the promise feeling upset, let down and angry. A broken promise has the potential to really damage a relationship.
Today’s verses, which are a prayer prayed by Jacob as he approaches his homeland, deal with God’s promises to Jacob. Jacob left his homeland on bad terms with his brother, Esau, not least because he had cheated him out of his father’s dying blessing. He doesn’t know how safe it will be for him to return, and so he turns to God in prayer. His prayer is an interesting one, and we can certainly learn from it. Jacob begins by making a statement of the promise that God made to him when God told him to “‘go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper’.” Next he affirms his faith that God keeps his promises, by praising him for keeping previous promises: God told him that he would prosper, and, despite the fact that when he left, he had practically nothing, now he has great wealth, and has “become two camps.” Thirdly, having stressed that he knows God keeps his promises, he asks for God’s protection: “save me from the hand of my brother Esau.” Fourthly, he stresses that he makes this request of God in order that God’s promise to him to make him prosper and give him many descendants is fulfilled.
I wonder if you’ve ever prayed a prayer like this? I’m not sure I’ve ever done so quite as effectively as Jacob. Perhaps we could try and pray a similar prayer today. Why not jot down some of the promises that God has made to us? Maybe you could read through some favourite Bible passages and underline God’s promises to us? Then perhaps we could try praising God for keeping his promises. Next we could petition God for something that we feel that we need or desire in order for God’s promise to be fulfilled. By no means an easy feat, but surely worth a go!