**I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast showed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands. ** Genesis 32:10
Any conversation about prayer can become a confusing jumble of do’s and don’ts. All the individual aspects of prayer are important to learn, and prayer is a tool that takes time to master. A carpenter does not build a house on his first day on the job. Chances are he will miss a few nails and construct some crooked frames during the learning process. The skill to use and understand each tool and it’s purpose and value in building a beautiful home, comes from daily practice, learning from the masters and personal trial and error over time. In order to become a Master Craftsman, he must apply all the principles of construction at the right time, in the right place and in the correct manner in order to build a safe and well-built home.
So much more is our need to develop our skill with the supernatural tool of prayer.
Too often, the forever expanding list of needs to pray about can make us robotic in our conversation with the Lord. We may be putting our requests before Him in the same way we shop on Amazon. –HMMMM—what do I need today?—a blanket, a plate, a sweater, curtains, sofa pillows, a cable for my computer…there we go….it’s all in the basket and it should all be here in a day or two. I’ve dealt with all my needs. Now, what else do I need to do today?
Our verse from Genesis shows us something crucial in the life of Jacob. Jacob is not a Bible character that I care to emulate. But in this brief window of his life in Genesis 32, he seems to have gotten something right. It is a quite different conversation than the one from Genesis 28 where he says…** (IF God) will be with me, and (IF HE) will keep me in this way that I go, and (IF HE) will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, so that I come to my father’s house in peace; THEN shall the LORD be my God: (emphasis mine)— how does Jacob approach the Lord? With a me complex—me x3—I x2—my x2.
Jacob ran from his family issues and had an encounter with God, yet his focus was completely on himself. His requests, the desires of his heart were all about his own well-being. What can the Lord do for him? He never mentions any of the damage he has done or the people that he has hurt. He brings an Amazon Wish List before the Lord, and gives himself a gift card to pay for all of it.
Then, a couple of decades later, enough time to develop better prayer skills, and have a better understanding of himself and his God, and to change his perspective on how to talk to Him. ..brings us to Genesis 32.
What a difference in how Jacob approaches the Lord this time.
**I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies,
and of all the truth, which thou hast showed unto thy servant;
for with my staff i passed over this Jordan;
and now I am become two bands. **
Jacob has learned a better way to approach the Lord, with humility and understanding of Who he is talking to.
He also has taken some time to reflect and evaluate on all the Lord has done for him EVEN THOUGH Jacob had a bad attitude and an ignorant understanding in the beginning of his journey of Who the Lord is and what He can do.
He has now experienced the Lord’s mercies.
He has seen His Truth and how it is so much better than Jacob’s lies and deceptions and trickery.
He recognizes that he fled a bad situation at home. In his first encounter with the Lord at Bethel, he was alone, poor and afraid but now is returning full, blessed, with 4 wives and 12 children and great possessions. And he is a prince of nations. The Lord is fulfilling Abraham’s promises through him. Not because Jacob has become an amazing follower of God, but because God made a promise and He always does what He says He will do.
Jacob’s first prayer was to a god that he expected would serve him.
In his second prayer, he declares himself a servant to the most High God. To the God of his fathers Abraham and Isaac. The One who passed the same promises on to him, though he now sees himself as unworthy instead of privileged and deserving.
Jacob isn’t a great model of good for us to learn from in most things. Except in this example of prayer.
He comes before the same god that he met in Bethel. But this time his conversation starts with humility. He recognizes that he is powerless without the Lord fighting for him. He understands that his battles can only be won with the Lord at his side. He realizes that the Lord answered that prideful, selfish prayer even though he didn’t deserve for Him to do it.
Jacob has pounded a lot of broken, mislaid nails in his life but, now, he is ready to put the hammer in the Lord’s hands. His desire is to be like the Master Carpenter. To follow Him. To learn from Him. To obey Him. To live for His glory.
Each of us can learn from Jacob’s conversion of heart and mind. Prayer is a time for us to reflect and dwell on the One we are talking to and less on why we need to talk to Him. Confession, honesty, humility. All are vital tools to build a strong, solid foundation for our spiritual home with the Lord.