Prayers of the Old Testament
The Prayer of Jacob continued...
Another aspect of Jacob’s prayer worthy of highlighting is that Jacob had a specific purpose to his prayer. There was nothing general about Jacob’s prayer, there was nothing ambiguous or veiled.
‘Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, lest he come and attack me and the mother with the children.’
That is a pretty direct prayer. Jacob knew exactly what he needed from God, and he minced no words in his prayers. The only thing Jacob could have said that would have been more concise is, ‘Lord help me! I fear Esau will kill me if You don’t.’
Even when the purpose and goal of your prayer is birthed out of fear as Jacob’s was, it is good to have a purpose when we pray. There are prayers of fellowship, wherein we commune with God, and speak to Him as to a loving Father, and then there are prayers of petition wherein we know exactly what it is we need, and focus on that particular thing.
Jacob was petitioning God for protection, asking God to save him from the hand of his brother Esau, because he feared him. That’s pretty specific, by any standard.
Jacob sees the danger, he sees he is helpless, he sees he has no one left to turn to, and he turns to God. His prayer is one of specificity, and purpose, one that does not suffer from a long introduction or an interlude. Jacob gets to the point, and he does so with urgency because he realizes the predicament he is in.
There is not a shadow of the pride or arrogance from twenty years ago – it has all been stripped and burned from him – and now humbly, meekly, he petitions God to intervene on his behalf.
Jacob is not afraid to admit that he’s afraid. There is no shame or reticence in Jacob’s prayer. He opens his heart to God, and reveals his innermost being, testifying of the fear he possesses in regards to his brother Esau.
I have known brothers in the Lord who thought it beneath them to admit they were afraid. They thought it something shameful or unbecoming to come before God and admit fear. Jacob, one of three Patriarchs, the spiritual and physical ancestors of Judaism, admitted to fear, he confessed it, and asked God for help in overcoming it.
We all have our fears. Whether we fear for our families, for our children, for our lives, for our health, whatever it is we fear for, we must confess before God, that He might intervene and deal with the root cause of our fear.
Yes, perfect love casts out fear, but in order for the fear to be cast out, it must be confessed that the perfect love of God might come in and do away with it.
Jacob didn’t just fear for himself, he feared for the mother and the children as well. It is in the small things, that we can more readily gauge change in an individual. Man can pretty well fake his way through the big things, but when it comes to the details, to the nuances, that is when you begin to see the true nature of a man.
Jacob the selfish, Jacob the proud, Jacob the deceiver, fears for someone else other than himself. He fears for the mother and the children. It is in this instant that we know Jacob has had a true change of heart, that he is not the man he was twenty years prior. He becomes selfless, and puts the lives and needs of others ahead of his own.
Yes, Jacob feared for himself as any man in his position would, for Esau had sworn vengeance, but he also remembers the mother and the children, fearing for them as well.
With all the emotions coursing through him, with all the fear, with all the doubt, with all the distress, Jacob still stood on the promises of God. No matter the fear he felt, Jacob would not be moved from the promises God had made to him, and he reminds God of these promises in his prayer.
Genesis 32:12, “For You said, ‘I will surely treat you well, and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.’”
Not only was Jacob aware of what God had promised him, he trusted in the promises of God.
If we, as believers, as children of God and bondservants of Christ would stand on the promises God has made to us, we would never again be anxious, fearful, or distressed.
If we not only acknowledged the existence of these promises but believed them with all our heart, we would live with the awareness that not a hair upon our head will come to harm, because He who created all things and in whom are all things, is the keeper of our souls.
The Lord is our protector. He is faithful, and He keeps His promises. The Lord promised he would make Jacob’s descendants as the sand of the sea, and Jacob reminded Him of that promise. At this juncture Jacob had no idea how this would come about, how his life would be spared form the wrath of his brother Esau, but he believed that God was able to fulfill His promise.
There is no denying the splash of doubt in Jacob’s actions. There is no denying that he attempted to save himself before going to God, but now that he stood before God, he remembered all God promised him and began to draw strength.
Not only can we learn practical lessons of what to do from the life and prayer of Jacob, we can also learn what not to do in certain instances, and learning from the mistakes of those who came before us will spare us much heartache in the long run.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.