Esau and Jacob had a contentious and tumultuous relationship that could rival any antagonistic relationship that we have experienced or known.

Twenty years had passed since Jacob deviously robbed his brother and Esau threatened and planned to kill Jacob. 

Then the two men were to meet again. Tensions ran high. Esau approached with four hundred men. Jacob did everything he could to protect his family from any attack. You can read the story in Genesis 32 and 33.

But, then Jacob prayed!

Here are two things we can learn from Jacob’s prayer as we pray and attempt to make reconciliation and find resolutions in our own difficult relationships.

1. Humility before God

First, and perhaps the hardest for a man like Jacob who was usually all out for himself, Jacob humbled himself before God.”I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant,” he said in his prayer. 

God had been good to Jacob and Jacob recognized that he had been undeserving of God’s goodness.

All of us are undeserving of God’s goodness. Where has God been good to you? Whether you have been wronged or done wrong, humility before God goes a long way.

2. Relying on God

Jacob pleaded with God to rescue him. Desperate to appease his brother, he knew that the gifts he offered Esau were not enough. He needed God’s intervention. At the crunch point of meeting Esau, Jacob could only rely on God and his promises. 

Are you at the point where you rely on God to bring about change and reconciliation in a relationship? Often we do what we think is best but need to recognize it is not enough. Humbly tell God your dependence on him.

The Outcome

When the two brothers met, Esau ran to Jacob and threw his arms around him. God answered Jacob’s prayer.

When we pray humbly, depending on and trusting God—and we step out not knowing the outcome to our prayer—we discover that God has been at work all along. 

God had been at work in both Jacob and Esau’s lives right up to the time of Jacob’s prayer. 

Jacob was a different man from when he robbed Esau. Esau didn’t know that. But, God knew it. God had changed Esau too. He was no longer a murderous, angry man but one who could forgive. God had changed both Esau and Jacob. 

It wasn’t an instant transformation in the moment the two men met, but God working out the answer to prayer from the beginning.

Jacob described the transformation as: “For to see your face,” said Jacob to Esau, “is like seeing the face of God, now that you have received me favorably” (Genesis 33:10).

Let’s not underestimate what God can do in difficult relationships, both in our lives and the lives of other people, so that we marvel and say we too got a glimpse of the face of God.


Photo by Lucas Ludwig on Unsplash

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