How Jacob’s Humble Prayer can bring You Freedom from Addiction

The Prayer of Jacob

“The Prayer of Jacob,” by Gustav Doré

One of my favorite things about studying the Bible is how God can use a story I’ve read a dozen times to speak to me in a completely new way.

The most recent example of this came just the other day as I was reading the story of Jacob back in Genesis 32.

A bit of back story…

Jacob had just returned back to his homeland as the Lord had instructed him to do. As soon as he got there, he sent a few of his men to take a peace-offering to his brother, Esau, who lived nearby.

You see, there was some bad blood between Jacob and Esau, mainly because Jacob had cheated Esau out of both his birthright and his blessing. Jacob knew if he was going to live in close proximity to his brother again, it would be wise to attempt to reconcile their relationship.

Shortly after his men went out though, they returned with the following news:

“We met your brother, Esau, and he is already on his way to meet you—with an army of 400 men!” (Genesis 32:6)

Jacob was obviously freaked out by this. His first instinct—as it would be with many of us—was to protect himself and his family from the coming attack. He immediately took action and split his family into two camps so that “If Esau meets one group and attacks it, perhaps the other group can escape” (v. 7).

But then, once Jacob had done everything he could think of to protect himself (and probably recognized the futility of his efforts), he took his fear and concerns before God:

9 Jacob prayed, “O God of my grandfather Abraham, and God of my father, Isaac—O Lord, you told me, ‘Return to your own land and to your relatives.’ And you promised me, ‘I will treat you kindly.’ 10 I am not worthy of all the unfailing love and faithfulness you have shown to me, your servant. When I left home and crossed the Jordan River, I owned nothing except a walking stick. Now my household fills two large camps! 11 O Lord, please rescue me from the hand of my brother, Esau. I am afraid that he is coming to attack me, along with my wives and children. 12 But you promised me, ‘I will surely treat you kindly, and I will multiply your descendants until they become as numerous as the sands along the seashore—too many to count’” (Genesis 32:9-12).

Jacob’s Faith

Jacob begins his prayer by reflecting on the promises God has made to him:

Lord, you told me, “Return to your own land and to your relatives” (v. 9).

You promised me, “I will surely treat you kindly, and I will multiply your descendants until they become as numerous as the sands along the seashore—too many to count” (v. 12).

Jacob remembered how God had not only told him to move to this land, but He promised to take care of him and bless him with many descendants as well—neither of which would come to pass if he and his family were wiped out.

By reflecting back on, and choosing to believe the promises God made to him (faith), Jacob began to rest in the peace of trusting that God would surely get him through this upcoming trial.

Jacob’s Humility

Once Jacob focused his mind onto God’s faithfulness, he began to look back on all the ways God had come through for him already. He reflects on how God has blessed him far beyond what he ever deserved—not because he earned it, but because of God’s unfailing love and faithfulness.

By recognizing how all these blessings in his life had been undeserved gifts of God’s grace, it took his own worthiness, acceptance, and ability out of the equation.

This perspective of humility allowed Jacob to look toward the battle knowing it would be God’s power that would get him through. And trusting God’s strength is far more comforting than relying on his own.

Jacob’s Request

Finally, after pausing to reflect on God’s perfect track record, Jacob reached out to Him for help. He came to a point where he could truly say “Yes Lord, I believe,” and then asks God to save him as He has promised.

Jacob doesn’t sugar-coat his fear or minimize the situation. He doesn’t use big, fancy, ceremonial words. He doesn’t put on his nicest suit or light some incense. No, he simply comes before God and says, “Lord… Help. I’m scared. I don’t now what to do. I can’t handle this on my own…but You can. Help me… Please.”

And how did God respond? Well, let’s just say He came through on His promises.

How does this help me today?

You may not be facing an invading army, but if you’re hanging around this blog you’re probably being tempted by an enemy who’s just as powerful. The good news though, is the proper response remains the same: When trials come, run to God in prayer.

Remember the promises He has made to you, and the promises you have already seen Him fulfill.

Humbly recognize your brokenness and admit how much you need the power of Christ to get you through your struggles.

If you use Jacob’s prayer as a template, your prayer might look something like this:

Lord, you have promised me that You will never leave me and that You will never condemn me. You have declared that I am now a new creation—no longer a slave to the sin that is tempting me. You have also instructed me to “flee from sexual immorality,” and gave me the power to do so by placing your Spirit within me.

I recognize that I am not worthy of the unfailing love and kindness You have shown me. The gifts You have blessed me with—forgiveness, sonship, eternal life—are far beyond anything I deserve. I am incapable of winning this battle on my own. I need your strength, Lord.

Father, please rescue me from this addiction. Allow me to walk in the freedom you have promised me. Break these chains on me by Your power.

I give this battle to You, Lord. I trust You to lead me into victory as you have promised.

Thank You, Father. Amen.


In the end, Jacob didn’t even have to fight the battle after all. God delivered him so completely it transformed his biggest fear into a celebration.

How great would it be if He did the same for you in your battle?

I, for one, believe that He can.

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