|Theme: A Prayer When Afraid
|Focus on: Jacob
|Reading Portion(s): Genesis 32|
|– Important Background Information|
|– Helps you find strength in God|
|What this article teaches you|
| There is no man on earth who has never been afraid. Even the bravest and the strongest and the most fearless of men at times become afraid. Christians are no exception. There might come new challenges that we might never have anticipated. Till that point we might have managed on our own strength. But now it seems impossible.
When such situations come in life the best thing to do is to admit to God that we are afraid. At the same time we have to acknowledge the protection of God that we enjoyed in the past. It is sad that it takes a crisis to help us realize that God was our Guardian Angel all the way. Once that is acknowledged we have to step into the path of obedience that God is showing to us at that time. It is then that God shall answer our prayer. The answer will come even though it might take a lot of wrestling in prayer.
Jacob’s life till this point of time was a game of deception. He was named
Jacob which carries with it the meaning “deceiver.” As we watch his life we find that he lived a life true to the meaning of his name. He deceived his brother Esau twice; once regarding birthright and the next time regarding Isaac’s blessings.
As a result of these deceptions he had to flee to his mother’s house. But there Jacob found himself in a game of deception where he was the victim. So the role of him as deceiver changed and for some time he became the deceived. We find Laban, his mother’s brother, deceiving him in the case of Rachel and Leah and then changing Jacob’s wages ten times.
While Jacob had earlier fled from Esau to Laban’s home, we find God meeting with him in a dream at Bethel. In this dream God had repeated the promise given to Abraham and Isaac. God promised him protection and told him that he and his offspring will be a blessing to all the peoples on the earth. God also told him that He will bring him back to this land.
Now, God told Jacob to go back to his own land and he is fleeing from Laban and returning to where Esau lived. He was pursued by Laban because Jacob had deceived him by not telling him that he was running away. Yet God intervened by appearing to Laban in a dream at night and prevented any harm coming to Jacob. Jacob in his talk with Laban told him that it was only because God was with him that Laban could not do anything harmful or else he might have sent him away empty-handed.
After they had parted in peace the real drama started. Jacob send messengers to Esau. When they came back they gave this alarming message that Esau was coming with four hundred men to meet Jacob. He was put into real fear and distress by this news. He tries to scheme a way out of this. In that effort he splits the group into two thinking that if one group is attacked the other might escape.
Stop for a moment to think. Are we not like Jacob in much of our activities? Don’t we try to scheme out things for our own advantage? See, Jacob had God’s promise of protection and blessing. Yet he thought that he needed to help God with his clever and deceptive scheming. But there comes a time when we too like Jacob realize that it is not scheming that makes things work but God, who directs the events of our life. Here, at last, we find Jacob at this crucial turning point in his life. And he prays.
Jacob tells God that He is the God of his fathers, Abraham and Isaac. He adds that it was God who told him to go back to his own country and relatives. In effect Jacob was claiming the promise God had already given him and he expects God to prosper him now as he is obeying God’s command. The he confesses his utter unworthiness to receive God’s kindness and faithfulness. He recalls the fact that he had only his staff in his hand when he crossed the Jordan earlier; but now he has become two groups. Then he tells God very plainly that he is afraid! He prays to God to save him out of Esau’s hand. In this prayer he is actually counting on God’s blessing that gave him the promise that his descendants will be like sand on the seashore.
A few things needed to be noted in this prayer of Jacob. First of all we can be confident in our praying if we are obeying God’s command. Secondly, we have to realize that whatever blessing we have already got is not a result of our scheming but it is due to God’s kindness and faithfulness. And we should also remember how from absolutely nothing God has given us great increase. Thirdly, in prayer, it is better to tell God what you feel like in a straightforward and simple manner. Here, Jacob says, that he is afraid and he asks God to save him out of his brother’s hand. Lastly, we have to claim the promises that God has already given us and make it the basis for our prayers.
More importantly we have to realize that we have to stop scheming and start praying!
God heard Jacob’s prayer. At night when he was left alone a man wrestled with him till daybreak. And since he struggled with God and with men and overcame, his name was changed to Israel and there he was blessed.