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Jacob’s vow: making a deal with God

In times of uncertainty or doubt, many of us have prayed, “Lord, IF You will ___(fill in the blank), THEN I will ___(fill in the blank.)” That’s what Jacob did. This son of Isaac and twin brother of Esau didn't know if God would be with him the way He had been with Jacob’s grandfather Abraham. He’d undoubtedly heard his family’s stories of faith, but maybe he thought that tricking his brother and his father had put him on the outs with God. Now on the run from his brother’s wrath, Jacob fled toward his mother’s family many, many miles away. Alone and in new terrain, he made a vow to God in this prayer: Genesis 28:20-22 from the  King James Version  of the Bible and  the Book of KJV prayers And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, So that I come again to my father's house in peace; then shall the Lord be my God: And this stone, which

A servant’s prayer

The aging Abraham must have completely trusted his eldest servant to send the man on such a long journey and important mission: To travel to Abraham and Sarah’s homeland to get a wife for their son Isaac. Genesis 24:12 – a prayer of Abraham’s servant from the King James Version of the Bible and the Book of KJV prayers "And he said O Lord God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send me good speed this day, and shew kindness unto my master Abraham." Genesis 24:12 prayer paraphrased from the Book of Bible Prayers   "Oh, Lord God of my master, please grant me success today and show Your steadfast love!" Today, the Lord Himself is our Master! So we can be sure of His positive response to us as we pray this servant’s prayer and go about, doing God’s will. Mary Harwell Sayler , ©2019 …

The prayer of Hagar: God sees!

Year after year, Abraham and Sarah waited for the child God had promised to them, but when nothing happened, they decided to take matters into their own hands. Sarah offered her Egyptian maid to her husband as a means of having a child, and Abraham obliged! Once Hagar knew a baby was on the way, she treated her mistress with contempt. This undoubtedly burdened Sarah even more, knowing she’d failed to give Abraham a child, while her maid had not. With Hagar’s haughtiness more than Sarah could bear, she, in essence, gave her husband an ultimatum. Abraham responded by telling his wife to do as she pleased. Sarah did. She treated Hagar so harshly, the woman ran away. As Hagar wandered alone in the wilderness, an Angel of the Lord appeared and   told her she would have a son, whom she was to name Ishmael. Meanwhile, the Lord wanted Hagar to return to her mistress and be respectful to Sarah. Realizing she was not alone and the Lord was with her, Hagar expressed her joy and

Prayers of Abraham

When God called to him, Abraham heard and responded, “Here I am, Lord.”   When God asked him to intercede for a man he had wronged, Abraham obeyed. This patriarch of God’s people is lauded as an example of true faith and closeness to God, but few of his actual prayers have been recorded. Genesis 15:2 O Lord God, what will You give me? Will I need an inheritance if I have no child? Genesis 17:18 Oh, that my child might live in Your presence, Lord, and be under Your blessing! Genesis 18:23, 32 Lord, would You really sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if ten honorable people are found? And God answered: For the sake of ten, I will not destroy the town. Paraphrased by Mary Harwell Sayler , ©2019, in     the Book of Bible Prayers . …

Praying with Abraham for our children

Abraham, the great patriarch of three major religions, talked with God often, but the Bible records very few of his actual prayers. Here’s one we, too, might pray for our children. Genesis 17:18 – a prayer of Abraham Oh, that my child might live in Your presence, Lord, and be under Your blessing! paraphrased by Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2019 from the Book of Bible Prayers: actual Bible prayers  collected and prayer-a-phrased from God’s Word …

Blessing, vow, pledge, and promise

“Isaac called for Jacob, blessed him, and said, “Do not marry a Canaanite woman but hurry to the house of your grandfather in Paddan-aram and marry one of your uncle Laban’s daughters. May God Almighty bless you with many children, and may your descendants become many nations. May God pass on to you and your descendants the blessings promised to Abraham, and may you possess this land where you now live as a stranger, for God gave this land to Abraham,” Genesis 28:1-4. After getting the family blessing he had deceptively wangled from his twin brother Esau, Jacob obeyed his father and set off on a journey of a few hundred lonely miles to find a wife. And so, “Jacob left Beersheba and traveled toward Haran. Before sunset he arrived at a good place to stop for the night and set up camp. When he found a stone for a pillow, Jacob lay down to sleep, and as he slept, he dreamed of a ladder (or stairway) reaching from earth to heaven with angels of God going up and down. At the top of the

Praying for purpose, praying for peace

“This records the family of Isaac, the son of Abraham: When Isaac was forty years old, he married Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean from Paddan-aram and sister of Laban the Aramean. Isaac pleaded with the Lord on behalf of his wife because she had no children. The Lord answered Isaac’s prayer, and Rebekah became pregnant with twins. When the two children struggled in her womb, she asked the Lord why this was happening, and the Lord told her, ‘The sons in your womb will become two rival nations. One nation will be stronger than the other, and your older child will serve the younger,” Genesis 25:19-23. Questions: With whom or what do you struggle? Is your old self struggling with your new self in God? Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, looking back at old ways and looking forward to new is like carrying twin thoughts that fight within me! Help me, Lord, to move forward into Your plan and purpose for my life with no fears and no regrets. Thank You for giving Your prayers, Yo

Getting very specific in prayer

Background: Long after Abraham prayed for God to favor Ishmael, he and his wife Sarah brought up their son Isaac to become the heir whom God had named. Sometime before the young man turned thirty, his mother died and was buried in a cave that Abraham had purchased at full price near Mamre (also known as Hebron) in the land of Canaan. Despite the family ties to that area, Abraham did not want his son to marry a Canaanite woman. He was so adamant in fact that he made his chief servant swear to go to Abraham’s homeland and find Isaac a wife among their own kin. The servant gave no objection to the request but showed concern for the success of his mission. When he asked Abraham what to do if no woman wanted to come home with him to meet Isaac, his master said, “The LORD God of heaven will send an angel before you,” Genesis 24:7-8. Abraham further assured the man that, if God did not take care of everything, the chief servant would be released from his oath. The man promised to obey his

God tells Abraham to pray for the person he had wronged

Background: Abraham’s wife Sarah had the kind of beauty that turned heads. Since Abraham feared he would be killed on her account and Sarah taken, he told everyone she was his sister, which, like most lies, had some basis of truth. They did indeed have the same father but different mothers, and so they had gotten married. This meant, of course, that Sarah was no longer free to marry someone else, but Abraham left out that important piece of information. As they traveled into Gerar, Abraham introduced his wife to the king of the region as his sister. That night King Abimelech ordered the beautiful woman to be brought to his palace, but before anything could happen, God appeared to Abimelech in a dream, letting him know that Sarah was already married. Since the king had not slept with her yet, he protested, reminding God of his innocence and Abraham’s deception. In the dream, God responded, telling Abimelech to return Sarah to her husband and His prophet Abraham would pray for the k

Lot prays for a place to run and hide

Background: The people of Sodom had become so ungodly that God did not find even ten upright citizens throughout the entire city! Although Abraham’s nephew and family lived there, Lot may have sensed that he did not belong, or maybe he hoped to change the current conditions. Regardless of his reasons, he was sitting at the main gate – the traditional hang-out for city leaders – when he saw the approach of two of the angels who had just visited Abraham and Sarah. Immediately, Lot hopped up, eager to offer the visitors fresh water, food, and a place of rest as, unbeknown to him, his uncle Abraham had done earlier. The angelic beings agreed, but later that evening, all of the men in Sodom – young and old – gathered around Lot’s house and demanded that he send out the two visitors, but instead, Lot came out– one man against the whole crowd. Trying to reason with the unreasonable mob, he begged, “Oh, please, brothers! Do not give my visitors such terrible treatment!” “Man!” the angry

God and Abraham pray for Ishmael and Isaac

Background: Again and again, God promised Abram he would become the father of many nations, yet this usually strong man of faith and his wife, Sarai, made their own arrangements in order to make God’s promise come true! As Genesis 16 records the story, Sarai urged Abram to follow the custom of the day and have children with her maid Hagar so the couple would have an heir. When this had been accomplished and Hagar knew she had a child on the way, she began to look down on her mistress, which did not go over too well with Sarai. In Genesis 17 God gave Abram a new name – Abraham, which means the father of many. God also changed Sarai’s name to Sarah, which, interestingly, means princess. With the blessing of God resting on Abraham, however, God could not and did not forget Hagar. When Sarah mistreated the servant girl, Hagar ran away until an angel of the Lord came to her and told her to go home and submit to Sarah’s authority. “And the angel said, ‘You will give birth to a son, an

God and Abraham have a candid conversation

“The word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, ‘Fear not, Abram. I AM your shield, and your reward shall be exceeding great.’ "And Abram said, ‘Lord GOD, what will You give me, seeing I have no child but my steward, Eliezer of Damascus? Since You have given me no seed, the person born in my house is my only heir.’ "And the word of the LORD came again, saying, ‘This shall not be your heir, but he who comes from your own loins shall be your heir.’ Then the LORD brought Abram outdoors and said, ‘Look toward heaven and count the stars if you can number them. That’s how many descendants you will have.’ "And Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD counted this as righteousness. Then the LORD said, ‘I AM the LORD who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to inherit.’" Genesis 15:1-7. God talked with Abram and told him His plans, but even in a dream or vision, Abram would not have heard any of this unless he had listened. But he did

Melchizedek: A priest prays for Abraham

Background: When Abram heard that his nephew Lot had been captured by the joint forces of four kings, he rounded up 318 men from his servants and set out to rescue his brother’s son. Abram not only accomplished this military feat, he also freed the people and possessions taken from their homes in Sodom and Gomorrah. Afterward, the king of Sodom came out to greet the returning hero in the Kings’ Valley and told him to keep the things belonging to the people of his town, but Abram refused. As he explained, he did not want anyone thinking the king of Sodom had made him rich! At some point during this conversation, the Bible reports that the priest-king of Salem also came out to meet Abram, bringing bread and wine. No one knows anything about the ancestry of this priest-king to whom the fifth chapter of Hebrews later refers as “a priest forever.” Regardless, the man came from an area whose name stems from the Hebrew word “Shalom,” meaning “peace.” “Melchizedek, the king of Salem and