We can learn quite a bit about others, and ourselves, in the prayers uttered in times of distress. As night fell on Jacob and his family, his countenance fell with it. Jacob knew he would face Esau the following day, and he was afraid. Esau had the clear advantage, forcing Jacob into a defensive posture, something quite unusual for the schemer.
After dividing his family and possessions into two groups, Jacob did what may have been challenging for him—he prayed (vv. 9-12). At its core, prayer is an acknowledgement of our humility and God’s authority over our lives. That is not easy for someone like Jacob who likes to control his or her circumstances. But in this prayer, we see that God was at work in his life.
Jacob began by recounting his history with God. God was the faithful God of his fathers, Abraham and Isaac, the One who told Jacob to return to his family’s land so He might prosper him. It’s not hard to read between the lines. But then Jacob confessed his unworthiness of God’s kindness and asked God to deliver him. Jacob was where he needed to be; he was desperate and humbled before God. Then Jacob closed his prayer by once again reminding God of His promise to prosper him. And with that, Jacob prepared messengers to greet Esau and began to settle in to rest for the night, but he would not get any rest. God would take the seeds of humility and dependence and plant them even deeper in the patriarch’s heart.
What are your prayers to God like in times of distress and uncertainty?