Genesis 32:11-12 “Please deliver me from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau, for I fear him, that he may come and attack me, the mothers with the children. But you said, ‘I will surely do you good, and make your offspring as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.’”
What is the basis of your prayers? Do you just say whatever comes to your mind, or do you resort to some guidance when you talk to God? In the example above from Jacob’s life, we see a fundamental truth regarding this issue. In this example, Jacob’s fear of his brother Esau is the reason he is praying. He is brutally honest with God as he cries out to Him, “I fear him.” God knows what we’re thinking anyway, so we might as well confess what He already knows. But then Jacob speaks the following words: “But you said . . .” With these words the fearful Jacob reached out to the one thing that gave him confidence: the Word of God.
That’s the way it should be for every one of us. “What has God said?” should always be compared to “how do things look?” The believer has the wonderful privilege of walking by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). That faith must always be based on what God said. It’s a pattern God has set for us, i.e., that we keep in mind what He’s told us in His Word whenever we pray to Him. This will always assure prayer that is done in the Spirit (Ephesians 6:18), for it is His Spirit that gave us these words.
The Lord has told us to not be anxious about anything, but to pray. But immediately after this command in Philippians 4 he tells us this: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” So where do we find such things? Perhaps the best place to find them is in God’s Word, for its pages are filled with the things in this list. In prayer, we are free to confess (which means to say the same thing) these truths back to God. Truth resonates with truth, if you will, and God loves us to recount to Him what He has said. It is “out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks (Luke 6:45).” We know that God’s heart is filled with Truth and from that heart He has spoken to us. His truth should also fill our hearts, so that that same truth flows from our mouths to Him in prayer.
May God teach us to always base our prayers on such words as “But you said” as we speak to our Heavenly Father, especially as a follow-up to how anything, no matter how desperate, may look, sound, or feel to us at that time. This is the example of Jacob; an example God has given us for our benefit.