Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Jul 20 2011 - E100.10a – Gen 32:1-21, Jacob's prayer

Twenty years have passed and Jacob is now returning from Haran. He has become a wealthy man with large flocks and herds and servants and with eleven sons born to him by his two wives and their two handmaids. On his way home we read that the angels of God met him (Genesis 32:1). The angels who had accompanied him when he left home are with him also on his return journey to ensure that he is kept safe in accordance with God's promises.

But Jacob is afraid, afraid that his brother Esau will still be angry with him and intent on doing him harm. So he sends messengers to his brother to inform him of his imminent return and to find out Esau's reaction. The news is not good. The messengers return with the report that Esau is coming to meet Jacob with 400 men (32:6). Jacob is now very afraid.

First he takes practical action in dividing all that he has between two camps so that if Esau comes and destroys one, the other will be left to him. Jacob then turns to God in prayer saying, "O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O LORD who said to me, 'Return to your country and to your kindred, that I may do you good,' 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. 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, and the mothers with the children. But you said, 'I will surely do you good, and make your offspring as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.'" (32:9-12).

Note that Jacob knows that he has nothing to plead with God except the promises that God has given him. Tricky Jacob has run out of ideas and knows that he cannot save himself. Furthermore, he knows that he is not deserving of God's blessing. But God has promised to bless him, and Jacob clings to these promises and lays them out before God. He places all his confidence in the unfailing love and faithfulness of his covenant making and covenant keeping God.

God of Jacob, thank you for those times when you bring me to the end of my own devices, for you have taught me that when I am weak, then I am strong – for I am dependent upon your help. Thank you for your many great and precious promises. Teach me to make your promises the foundation of my prayers, confident that you will never fail to be faithful to your word.

Peter Misselbrook