21 Days Of Prayer Devotional - Genesis 32:9-12
Back in Genesis 31 the Lord had said to Jacob, 'Now arise, go out from this land and return to the land of your kindred.' On his way home Jacob had heard that his brother Esau was coming towards him with 400 men and he was greatly afraid. In that moment Jacob began to devise a plan to save his family and he divided his camp into two camps. Genesis 32:7 says, "Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed. He divided the people who were with him, and the flocks and the herds and camels, into two camps, thinking, 'If Esau comes to the one camp and attacks it, then the camp that is left will escape.'
This is not all that Jacob does to be prepared for what may lie ahead. More importantly he prays to the LORD. He begins his prayer by saying, "O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac..." Twenty years ago Jacob fled from his home and family after his father had died and Esau comforted himself by seeking to take revenge upon Jacob for obtaining the blessing and his inheritance. Yet, in all of that time he has never forgotten that his grandfather and his father worshipped the LORD.
Today Mindy cleaned out her office and found some pictures of me with my dad. It had been a long time since I saw these pictures and just the sight of them brought back loving memories of my dad. I think of him often but the thoughts that I had today were more special. These pictures brought back a lot more memories and emotion than I have had in quite some time.
The fact is, I can pray or read my bible or go to church and never have anything trigger thoughts of my dad. I never saw him pray or read his bible. And I never had the blessing of being taken to church with him unless we were visiting my grandmother and we went to her church which was the church that my dad grew up attending.
When Jacob prays he immediately remembers his grandfather and the promise that God had made with him. He remembers his own dad and how God had faithfully led him throughout his life. And as I consider these things I am grateful for so many fathers that I now know who are leading their families in prayer, in their devotions and in the faith. One day, when their kids are praying, doing devotions, or going to church they will remember how their parents lived out their faith and prayed to him often and even in times of crisis.
As Jacob prays he immediately confesses that God is the one who told him to return to his home. He says, "O LORD you said to me, 'Return to your country and to your kindred, that I may do you good." What a blessing it is when a crisis arises in our lives and we can pray the promises of God. When we can pray with a clear conscience because we had been willing to obey the LORD even if it was difficult and scary as it is now for Jacob. All too often it is a temptation to live our life according to our desires and then we are unable to pray with confidence when we need too.
It is also interesting that Jacob still finds it important to pray even though God had commanded him to go home so that He could bless him. Jacob is quick to pray and not simply assume that God's command and promise to him would negate the need for prayer.
Perhaps, part of this is reflected in what Jacob prays next, "I am not worthy of the least of all the deeds of steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant, for with only my staff I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two camps."
Jacob is humble and appreciative for all the goodness that God has displayed to him. He admits that he is not worthy of the least of these deeds of steadfast love and faithfulness. He calls him self a servant and claims no entitlement from God. Jacob has never forgotten that he was once homeless and penniless; but now he is rich and has been greatly blessed.
Jacob is humble and prays and this is contrasted with someone who admits that they are unworthy and then does not pray. A person who confesses their unworthiness and then is paralyzed in their prayers and in their Christian walk is not a healthy Christian. Jacob displays his faith in his confession and in this prayer.
Jacob also displays his faith when he makes his request. He says, "Please deliver me from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau, for I fear him, that he may come and attack me, the mothers with the children." Faith can pray for deliverance and it can admit that they are experiencing fear. not only for themselves but for others. Here Jacob confesses that he is afraid for himself and the mothers and the children. It seems to me that we ought to always seek to make sure our prayers include genuine concern for others. This may be easier for us to do with our own families like Jacob does here; but we also are called to be a neighbor to everyone else.
At the end of his prayer, Jacob again mentions what the LORD has told him. We read, "But you said, 'I will surly do good, and make your offspring as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude." Jacob begins and ends this prayer by speaking of the promise that God has made. It is far better to concentrate on the things that God has promised than to concentrate upon the thing that scares us. Jacob uses this moment to remember the promise to be blessed and he remembers the promise that has been given to Abraham and to Isaac.
There can be so much confidence in our hearts when we remember the faith that has been handed down since the beginning. Those whose faith is not grounded in the faith handed down cannot have the assurance that Jacob displays here. He remembers the promise given to Abraham, the promise given to Isaac and the promise that has now been given to him. 'New theologies' and 'new philosophies' in the end will give them very little comfort when it is needed. Those who trust in the Word already received will be blessed.