I have been receiving short excerpts on the word of God from e-Manna daily, and the title “Being Forced to Pray” got my attention when I was browsing through my email.
The Bible reference was from Genesis 32. In this chapter, Jacob was already expecting that his brother Esau, whom he stole the birthright from, would attack him, as indicated by his prayer (v. 9). This was the only time recorded in Genesis that Jacob prayed.
After making [his] arrangements, Jacob probably was still not at peace. Thus, he did something unusual—he prayed. This is the first record of Jacob’s praying in his entire life. (In 28:20-22 it was his vow, not his prayer to God.) During the twenty years Jacob was under the squeezing hand of Laban, there is no record that he prayed. Although Laban changed his wages ten times, Jacob did not pray. In principle, we all are
Jacobs. We have received the promise of God and we have come to know God, but still we do not pray. Instead of exercising our spirit to pray, we exercise our mind to consider and our natural strength to face every problem.
Are we not like Jacob? When a situation arises, what do we usually do? We usually exhaust all options before we would even pray. We are so accustomed to using our mind and our strength to consider and to deal with things. In the case of Jacob, at a certain point in his life, he was forced to pray.
Jacob did not pray when he was with Laban; instead, he employed his natural strength to manage the situation. But now, being about to face Esau, he was brought to a place where he had no more skill. All his skill, technique, ability, and strength had been exhausted. When he learned that Esau was coming with four hundred men, he was frightened. The most he could do was divide his people into two groups, thinking that if the first were sacrificed, the second might be spared. Because this was the best Jacob could do, he was forced to pray.
This got me thinking…Do we only pray when we really are in trouble and have no more hope and no one else to rely on? For more on prayer, you can check this link by Bro. Tom Smith. He spoke much on developing our prayer life with the Lord.
- Life-study of Genesis, p. 951