“And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the Lord which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee: I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands. Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children. And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude” (Genesis 32:9-12).
Jacob provides one of the earliest examples of prayer in God’s Word. Here’s what I noticed:
- It is short, sincere, and straight (focused on getting an answer).
- It is considered one of the greatest prayers in Scripture.
- It was prayed by a man weak in faith.
- It was prayed in desperation and fear. Both should drive us to our knees.
- It was an appeal to God as standing in a covenant relationship.
- It rested totally in God’s character.
- It exposed his knowledge of God’s ways.
- It encouraged him through remembering what God had already done.
One of the merits of pleading the promises is “the best we can say to God in prayer is what He has said to us.” God’s promises “furnish us with the best petitions, so they are the firmest ground of our hopes” (Matthew Henry).