Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father’s house, then the LORD will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.”
It is an unwise thing to attempt to bargain with God. To put it simply, we have nothing to offer Him except our praise and thanksgiving which should be His regardless of our circumstances. But many times we find ourselves trying to make a deal with God. “God, if you’ll just see me through this sickness, I promise that I’ll come to church every Sunday and live a better life.”
We can’t be sure if God ever accepts such agreements or if a person is healed as a result of God’s will apart from the prayer bargain. But one thing is certain, if we make such a prayer, we better follow through with our side of it.
Jacob’s vow is not that of a desperate man looking for rescue from a bad situation. And it isn’t even conditional even though it is phrased as such. Jacob knows that God will hold up His end of the bargain as He has promised many times, not just to Jacob but also Abraham and Isaac. He has seen God at work before and knows that He will continue to watch over him.
Jacob’s agreement could be phrased another way. “God, I know you’re going to continue to watch out for me and because of that, I’m going to continue to worship you.” Instead of trying to make desperate bargains with God that we may not follow through on, why not live every day in worship of God to begin with? When problems come about, we’ll be much better equipped to handle them.