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Monday, August 13, 2012

Lord, Teach Us To Pray! Part 142

Prayers of the Old Testament
The Prayer of Jacob continued...

Even the best of us often times take it upon ourselves to spare ourselves or save ourselves in certain situations. The flesh revels in the notion that we can affect change, or that we are somehow captains of our own ships, masters of our own destinies, and determiners of our own fate.

Manmade plans fail because they are made by men. No matter how well we plan for every possible contingency, you can’t plan for everything, because our minds are not infinite as the mind of God is. We can see certain angles, foresee certain hardships, but we can’t see all the angles or all the hardships, and this is why we must trust in God.

God sees it all, from beginning to end, and everything in between.

More importantly God knows the why of it all, from why certain trials are allowed to come over us, to why we are told to stay in a certain place while others are being told to flee. God does not have a collective plan for His children. He is an intimate and individual God, and our place of refuge and safety is in His will, and nowhere else.

Around the fire, or through the fire, wherever God leads us, He will protect us, and we must do as Jacob did, and stand on His promise. We must overcome our fears, our reservations, our predisposition to thinking we know better than God, or that we can come up with a better plan, and obey Him. Go when He tells you to go, stay when He tells you to stay, and pray always, for it is the means by which we communicate with Him.

It took Jacob twenty years, a handful of heartaches, countless hardships, and numerous disappointments, but he is finally on the right path, humble enough to go before God with prayer and supplication and ask for His help.

So what was so special about Jacob’s prayer, and why is it worth discussing at this juncture?

First of all, Jacob’s prayer was the prayer of a man who knew God only partially. No, we can never know God in His fullness, but we can continually grow in the knowledge of Him. Growing in God is a natural and mandatory part of our relationship with Him.

So how did I come to the conclusion that Jacob knew God partially? I came to this conclusion by meditating on his prayer, and the phraseology thereof.

Jacob begins his prayer with the following words: ‘O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac.’ Although Jacob acknowledged God, and prayed to Him, he referred to God as the god of his father Abraham and Isaac. As yet, God was not personal to Jacob. He knew God only as the God of his forefathers, but not as Lord and King of his life.

As yet Jacob does not have the boldness to say ‘my God,’ but instead refers to Him as the God of his forefathers.

This is relevant, because although thousands of years have passed since Jacob’s prayer, many still walk about thinking of God as the God of those who came before them, and not their own personal God.

Many a soul adopts a certain denomination because their parents or their grandparents grew up in it, and they filter their faith through the prism of their forefathers’ faith.

Even though God had spoken to Jacob, he still thought of Him as being the God of his fathers.

Jacob even goes so far as to acknowledge the sovereignty of God, the omnipotence of God, but he does not personalize his reference to the Lordship of God. He does not say ‘my Lord,’ but rather ‘the Lord.’

‘But that’s just semantics isn’t it? You’re just grasping at straws…does it really matter?’

Yes, it matters. It really matters. Whether or not God is personal to you, whether He is your God or the God of your fathers matters a great deal.

John 20:26-28, “And after eight days His disciples were gain inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, ‘Peace to you!’ Then He said to Thomas, ‘Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.’ And Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’”

We see the marked difference between the wording of Jacob’s prayer, and Thomas’s reaction at seeing Jesus and touching Him. Thomas did not say, ‘God of my father,’ instead he made it personal and intimate by saying, ‘my Lord and my God!’

Know the God before whom you stand, not as some secondhand God, but as a personal God, one who knows you better than you know yourself, one who hears your prayers and petitions, and one who loves and cares for you.

In reading the history of Jacob we come to realize that God always looked out for him. God even revealed Himself to Jacob when he was fleeing the wrath of his brother Esau, going so far as to show him a ladder leading to heaven in a dream. God attempted, and repeatedly so to reach out to Jacob and establish a relationship with him.

Even with the promise that God would be with him, even with seeing an army of angels as he approached his homeland, Jacob still felt fearful and dreaded meeting up with his brother Esau. Even with all that God shows us on a daily basis, even with all the ways He reveals Himself to us continually, we, as Jacob, often doubt, grow fearful and despondent concerning things we have no control over to begin with.

We can take our fears, our doubts, our apprehensions, and our concerns to God in prayer and see Him work them out in a way only He can, or we can trust in our own wisdom and abilities and carry these burdens on our own. The choice is ours to make.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

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