Prayer will be a consistent topic for this blog as it is a way that the Lord blesses us and a way that we can be a blessing to others.
I ran across these notes in my journal from January 12, 2021, and they seemed so helpful today for friends in the middle of a crisis. Perhaps they will speak to you now, or you will bookmark this post for the future.
In Genesis 32, the story of Jacob continues. Jacob, the deceiver. Jacob, the twin that tricked his older brother out of his birthright. While we know that God had chosen Him to be the father of His chosen people, Jacob's methods were not sanctioned by the Lord.
As we pick up the story, Jacob is headed home after many years and is trepidatious about how the brother he tricked is going to receive him. The last he knew, Esau was intent on killing him.
As he gets close, he sends messengers to his brother and lets him know he is arriving. In that message, he includes statements indicating the wealth he has amassed, but also clearly states his desire that Esau will be friendly when he arrives. (Genesis 32:1-5)
The crisis (or Jacob's perception of a crisis) really begins when Esau's reply comes back. Jacob's messengers return, telling him that Esau is on his way to meet him and has 400 men with him. Now THAT'S a welcoming committee, isn't it? The New Living Translation uses the term army, and based on Jacob's reaction, I would say that's how he interpreted the number.
In verses 7 and 8, we see Jacob begin to formulate his plan to divide his entourage so that if Esau attacks one, he won't get the entire group. I don't know about you, but that is how I roll most often. I start making "plans."
Plans are comforting to me at any time, but especially in a crisis. Hopefully, early in the process, I realize that I really need to seek the Lord. And that is what Jacob did. His prayer is a great model for any prayer, but especially crisis prayer.
Then Jacob prayed, “O God of my grandfather Abraham, and God of my father, Isaac—O Lord, you told me, ‘Return to your own land and to your relatives.’ And you promised me, ‘I will treat you kindly.’10 I am not worthy of all the unfailing love and faithfulness you have shown to me, your servant. When I left home and crossed the Jordan River, I owned nothing except a walking stick. Now my household fills two large camps!11 O Lord, please rescue me from the hand of my brother, Esau. I am afraid that he is coming to attack me, along with my wives and children. 12 But you promised me, ‘I will surely treat you kindly, and I will multiply your descendants until they become as numerous as the sands along the seashore—too many to count.’ ” Genesis 32:9-12
1 - Recognize Who God Is (Worship)
Look at verses 9 and 10. Jacob acknowledges who God is.
Who is God to you?
- Creator and sustainer
- Ruler over all (sovereign)
- Faithful in past crises
2 - Recognize Who I'm Not (Humility and Repentance)
In verse 10 Jacob admits that he is unworthy while also listing more of God's attributes.
We can surely say with Jacob that we are unworthy of all of his lovingkindness (mercy, compassion) and the faithfulness He has shown us.
5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, Titus 3:5 (emphasis added)
Despite our unworthiness, we know we have been blessed by God’s grace - just as Jacob had. We have the entire record of Scripture to teach us about his faithfulness.
Take time to admit that all you have an are is because of God’s faithfulness despite your failures. Then call to mind his faithfulness to you personally. His faithfulness shows up in so many ways. Surely He has been with you, answered prayer, and provided Christian friendship and encouragement through other believers.
Take a few minutes to write down how God has shown mercy and faithfulness to you. Put the list somewhere that you can access when a crisis begins. I love the Notes app on my phone for this type of list.
3 - Admit How You Feel (Honesty)
Isn't it comforting when we see the "heroes" of the faith telling God how they feel? Here is Jacob plainly telling God in verse 11, "...I fear him, that he will come and attack me and the mothers with the children."
Several of David's psalms include his telling God He doesn't understand, that he is afraid or that he wants God to do something to defend him.
“What profit is there in my blood, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise You? Will it declare Your faithfulness? Psalms 30:9-10
Lord, how long will You look on? Rescue my soul from their ravages, My only life from the lions. Psalm 35:17
I will say to God my rock, “Why have You forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” As a shattering of my bones, my adversaries revile me, While they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” Psalms 42:9-10
Job questioned God extensively, yet the Bible is clear that he never cursed God. And ultimately, he proclaimed that God's ways were far above his own (Job 42:1-5).
Admit how you feel. God can take it.
4 & 5 - Ask For What You Need and Repeat His Words Back To Him (Praying in His will)
Look at verses 11 and 12.
11 Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, that he will come and attack me and the mothers with the children. 12 For You said, ‘I will surely prosper you and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which is too great to be numbered.’ Genesis 32:11-12
Jacob needed protection and requested it specifically based on God's previous promises.
What do you need? Here's a quick list of things we often need and Biblical promises to go with them
- To sense His nearness - He has promised never to leave or forsake His children. Ask Him to help you recognize His presence.
5 .... for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” Hebrews 13:5
- Wisdom - even if we are typically grounded in biblical wisdom, we get muddled in a crisis. Ask for godly wisdom to be restored.
5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. James 1:5
- Healing - physical, spiritual, relational, emotional - there are so many types of healing needed, and the Lord is able.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,And all that is within me, bless His holy name.2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,And forget none of His benefits;3 Who pardons all your iniquities,Who heals all your diseases;4 Who redeems your life from the pit,Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion; Psalms 103:1-4
God's plan for healing may look different than ours. Surrender your will to His and ask for the healing you need.
10 ‘Your kingdom come.Your will be done,On earth as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:10
Scripture is full of examples of God’s faithfulness to do what He has promised. If you’ve walked with him very long at all, you have personal examples of His faithfulness. I pray that these tips will help you lean into that faithfulness for encouragement and comfort.
What helps you go to God in prayer in a crisis rather than seeking out distractions or worldly counsel?