After 20-years, Jacob was heading home to the land God promised his grandfather Abraham. Jacob was obeying God’s command to return home, so he was in the will of God. But he was scared.
He had just been confronted by his father-in-law Laban, and the men with him. God had intervened by instructing Laban in a dream to not say anything good or evil to Jacob. So they had made a covenant not to harm each other, and Laban kissed his family good-bye.
But now Jacob was headed back home, back where his brother Esau lived, back to Esau who said he would kill him for stealing his blessing (Gen 27:41-42). And now Esau was approaching with 400 men. Jacob was afraid Esau would attack him and kill his family.
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.
Jacob did the right thing. When we are afraid, we need to trust in God. When we are afraid, we need to confess our fear to our Heavenly Father who loves us. When we are afraid we need to ask the Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth, for mercy and protection.
When he and his brother met,
“Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept” (Gen. 33:4 / KJV).
So in answer to Jacob’s prayer, instead of being attacked by Esau as he feared, his brother warmly welcomed him home in peace.
There is much to learn from Jacob’s Last Prayer. In fact, it can serve as a model prayer. Let us examine it more closely.
In Genesis 32:9, Jacob identified Who he was praying to:
In Genesis 32:9b, Jacob reminded God:
In Genesis 32:10, Jacob acknowledged the blessings that God had bestowed upon him, and confessed that He was NOT worthy of the mercies and Truth God had shown him.
In Genesis 32:11, Jacob made his request, but only after praising, reminding, and confessing. Jacob asked for safety. He prayed for deliverance from his brother Esau, who had said he would kill him and was now coming with 400 men.
In Genesis 32:12, Jacob gave God the reasons for his request and why God should answer his prayer:
This prayer model worked for Jacob. It should work for you too, as long as you pray in faith.
Since Esau did not kill Jacob, you might ask why this is called, “Jacob’s Last Prayer.” The reason is that the next day, before he met his brother Esau, God renamed him “Israel” (God prevails). So this was Jacob’s last prayer as Jacob. From then on, he prayed as “Israel.”
If you are interested in learning more about God renaming Jacob, you can read about it in Genesis 32:24-30. But elaborating on that story will have to wait for another post.